The effort to save one of Fulton’s oldest homes continues to move forward.
The non-profit group, Preserving Itawamba County’s Heritage, recently held a Heritage Day event in an effort to raise money in support of its efforts to save the Gaither House, a Main Street structure more than 150 years old. More than 200 people attended the event, purchasing tickets to tour the home and contributing almost $5,000 to the organization’s cause.
“We were very pleased with the turnout,” said Joel Ewing, president of Preserving Itawamba County’s Heritage. “God blessed us with a beautiful day and Itawambians responded … I would also like to thanks all the folks that helped make the day possible. They did everything from cooking to cleaning; signing to showing their antique cars. It really was a community event.”
According to Ewing, the strong turnout for Heritage Day revealed the organization to be on the right path in its efforts to save the Gaither House, which currently sits on property owned by Trinity Baptist Church and needs to be moved so the church can pursue future expansions.
“Heritage Day was about rallying support for this project,” Ewing said. “Our group wants to save more than just a stack of wood, nails, and glass. We want to save our history and our heritage. You see our history is what we did, while our heritage is who we are. This old home embodies both.”
Although the organization’s immediate goal is to move the house from its current location to another, there are also longterm plans under way to transform the structure into a public museum of sorts. The relocation process, however, is costly, and currently encompasses all of the group’s vision.
According to PICH Treasurer, Dr. Terry Thornton, the organization has raised nearly $7,000, which is approximately 56 percent of the amount the group needs to move the house. Looking down the road, the group hopes to raise approximately $120,000 to relocate, preserve and restore the house, as well as set up a small endowment fund. The group is at about 6 percent of that goal.
In addition to the Heritage Day event, PICH has been selling limited edition prints of Fulton artist Teb Thorton’s watercolor rendition of the house. Of the 100 prints, sized 17×22 inches, the group has sold 30 at $100 each. Smaller prints are also available at a cost of $50 each. Ewing said these have been selling well, too.
Although fundraising has gone relatively well so far, Ewing knows the struggling economy will make the battle to preserve the home a difficult one. The group is currently accepting any and all donations, and is working to secure corporate sponsorship as well. The more hands helping to hold the Gaither House together, the better.
“The only way we will save this beautiful old home is together,” Ewing said. “The good folks of Fulton and Itawamba County never cease to amaze me with their hard work and generosity. This house has been a part of our community for more than 150 years and it will take our community to save it. One day as I drive down Main Street and looking south see this old home and am reminded of the strong believe in God that formed the foundation of our community or the wonderful times I had when families did things together; then this home has played its role.
“Yes we need your money to save the part of this house that you can see, but we more desperately need everyone to pull together as a community to save that most important part that one cannot see,” he added.
The group is currently accepting donations in any amount, which can be made online by selecting “Gaither House Special Project Fund” at createfoundation.com, or by mail at Preserving Itawamba County’s Heritage, 77 Dogwood Estates Drive, Fulton, MS 38843. Checks or money orders should be payable to CREATE Foundation-Gaither House Special Project Fund. All donations are tax-deductible.
To order a limited edition print of the home, contact Ewing at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 662-610-5867.
Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141, by e-mailing email@example.com or by visiting his blog at itawamba360.com.
Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times