Oswalt Park on the main four corners of Vicksburg’s downtown, once had a large group of imposing buildings that housed an A&P grocery store, a post office, a clothing store, offices on the second floor and the Sun Theater. The buildings were torn down in the early 1970s to create the park when the bank, at that time known as First National Bank, decided to raze the Stofflet Block.
Enter the Historic Footsteps Program an arm of the Vicksburg Historical Society. The Footprints committee has been working over the last five years to place bronze plaques on various buildings in the community to mark their historic significance. This plaque recently placed in Oswalt Park was years in the making. Mike Hardy the “artist in residence,” drawing of the buildings is the highlight of the newest plaque that has been erected. On the reverse side of the plaque are photos of the interior of the various retail establishments that were once housed in the Stofflet Block.
The large metal signs have a special coating that protect the painting and photographic images from fading and make the surface weather and vandal resistant. The original painting and text was digitized by Kal-Blue and the sign was made by Sign Art. Two village light poles were reclaimed from the Department of Public Works’ yard and incorporated into the sign frame which was engineered and painted by SignArt. Fred Reiner and fellow woodworkers made the finials for the top of the poles. The DPW dug the holes, poured the concrete and erected the sign in the park.
A dedication for this imposing plaque will take place on Sunday, November 12 at noon in the park according to Kristina Powers Aubry who has been the de facto leader of the plaque committee. Everyone is invited to celebrate what has turned out to be an imposing monument to the history of the village, Aubry said.
The Footsteps committee was introduced in 2013 by the Vicksburg Historical Society to identify buildings and locations in the Village of Vicksburg of historical significance. Twenty-five locations have been identified: eight have been completed and marked with bronze plaques, seven are in process and 13 more are planned to be finished by the end of 2019. All of the plaques were financed by private donations, Aubry said. Others serving on the committee were Ted Vliek, Bonnie Holmes, and Margaret Kerchief.