For a town that came into its own under the powerful influence of Southern planters and business owners, Columbus, Mississippi, matured into an aggressive, upscale city where the past is preserved and the future is welcomed. The future is not the only thing welcomed in Columbus; so are visitors who appreciate heritage tours and hot spot sites for outdoor sports. Columbus’ magnificent mansions stand resplendent after more than 150 years, and the Tennessee – Tombigbee Waterway has become a boon for recreation as well as commerce.
Columbus visitors will be hard-pressed to define the city in a few simple words, or to categorize it as a destination with one specific drawing card. The city on the bluff is much too diverse for categorization. Its attractions have mass appeal: history and antiques, sports and recreation, award-winning annual events and festivals, cultural events and more.
Long before Columbus native-Tennessee Williams wrote, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers,” in A Streetcar Named Desire, the town was recognized for its kindness to strangers. During the Civil War, residents tended to over 3,000 wounded soldiers in local homes. Shortly after the war, a group of Columbus women helped to start the nation’s healing process by honoring the war dead from both armies with bouquets of fresh flowers. This newspaper excerpt from April 26, 1866, recounts the deed: “We are glad to see that no distinction was made between our own Confederate dead and Federal soldiers who slept their last sleep by them. It proved the exalted, unselfish tone of the female character. Confederate and Federal “once enemies, now friends” receiving their tribute of respect.” Judge F.M. Finch of New York immortalized the gesture in a poem entitled The Blue and the Gray. Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day, has become a national holiday and Columbus is remembered as the city “where flowers healed a nation.”
In the old section of Columbus, you will find cohesive, well-preserved neighborhoods of architecturally and historically significant buildings, which visually illustrate the city’s pattern of development since the early 1800s. The area boasts one of the greatest concentrations of nineteenth-century residential structures in the state, a virtually complete record of American building styles from the 1820s through the 1900s. Additionally, there are significant examples of the adaptations and combinations of architectural designs, which are unique to Columbus, known as “Columbus Eclectic”. Several persons who played important roles in local, state and national history made their homes in historic Columbus. Columbus boasts three National Register Districts with around 650 properties: South Columbus Historic District, Columbus Central Commercial District, and Factory Hill Burn’s Bottom Historic District.