Columbus, Mississippi (population 26,000) is located on the Tombigbee River in east central Mississippi. The town was first settled in 1817.
Columbus is home to the first state-supported college for women in the nation, the Columbus Female Institute, founded in 1847, now the Mississippi University for Women. The first home of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams, built in 1875, has been preserved and today serves as a Mississippi welcome center.
Columbus contains three National Register Districts with approximately 650 properties, including the Blewett-Harrison-Lee Home, the 1847 Italianate home of General Stephen D. Lee, who fired the first shot of the Civil War upon Fort Sumter. The building is now a local history museum.
In addition to many antebellum and Victorian homes, the city has preserved Greek Revival houses from 1820-1860 and Italianate and Gothic structures from the 1940s and 1850s.
Every spring, the Columbus Historic Foundation conducts a two-week Pilgrimage to Historic Homes, attracting visitors from around the world. This 65-year old event focuses on tours of antebellum homes, gardens and churches. Many community volunteers dress in period costumes and serve as guides. A nighttime public tour of the cemetery, “Tales from the Crypt,” is a popular feature of the pilgrimage.
Another attraction in Columbus is the May Market Street Festival, which showcases the town’s many historic resources. The Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes is held each September.
Designated a Preserve America Community in November 2005.