Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Pascagoula (population 26,000) is an important port and the county seat of Jackson County, Mississippi. Its rich history goes back more than 300 years, with settlement by French, English, and Spanish colonists. Its earliest surviving structure, the Old Spanish Fort (1718), is believed to be the oldest in the Mississippi Valley.
Pascagoula has three historic districts and more than 30 individual structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Architecturally, many 19th-century styles are represented, including Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Creole style, Greek Revival, and Italianate. Reflecting the area's hot, rainy climate, many of the historic buildings have wrap-around galleries, steep roofs, and full-length windows.
Annually, as part of National Historic Preservation Week, the city sponsors an Architectural Treasure Hunt, a contest where photographs of features from historic buildings are printed in the local paper and citizens are challenged to identify the historic properties.
Pascagoula's commercial downtown is being revitalized through façade improvement grants and tax abatements. The esthetic and economic appeal of portions of Main Street had declined, in part because of the presence of a canopy over the street that had been erected in the 1970s as an urban renewal project. The city recently removed the canopy, once again revealing the historic streetscape.
The city is also supporting efforts to reconstruct the Round Island Lighthouse, which was partially destroyed by Hurricane Georges in 1998. The Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society is working to restore the structure, a symbol of the community's historical ties to the sea.
Pascagoula has been designated a Certified Local Government by the National Park Service, and is a Main Street Community. The city's preservation efforts are led by the Pascagoula Historic Preservation Commission.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2004.