Port Gibson (population 1,800) is the seat of Claiborne County and the third oldest town in Mississippi. By the Civil War, it contained elegant homes, stately churches, and a thriving commercial center. During the war, the city was spared destruction following the Battle of Port Gibson, since, as legend has it, General Ulysses S. Grant said that it was "too beautiful to burn."
Many of Port Gibson's antebellum buildings remain today, and much of the downtown area has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. City Hall is housed in an 1840 building originally constructed as the main building of an educational academy. The Harriette Person Memorial Library, first founded in 1914, was recently relocated to a newly restored historic building on Main Street.
Each year, Port Gibson celebrates its history and culture, Port Gibson has celebrated its history and culture through the Port Gibson Main Street Heritage Festival. In addition to music, arts, and the Mississippi Venison Cook-off, guided tours are held of Port Gibson's historic sites, including nearby Windsor plantation ruins. Twelve miles from town, Windsor's standing Corinthian columns have become an iconic symbol of the rise and fall of the Southern antebellum plantation.
The legacy of slavery in Port Gibson was challenged in the 1960s when the community became a focal point for civil rights protests. A permanent exhibit, "No Easy Journey," in the County Administration Building tells the story of this critical period in the community's history.
Port Gibson's historic sites are protected by a preservation ordinance that is administered by the city's Preservation Commission. Detailed design guidelines encourage preservation and high design standards. The community has been designated a Certified Local Government by the National Park Service and is a Main Street Community.
Designated a Preserve America Community in March 2004.