Oseola McCarty house moved to East 6th StreetBy HASKEL BURNS,
The home of Oseola McCarty has been moved to East 6th street in downtown Hattiesburg, where it will join the African-American Military History Museum and the Eureka School Museum as part of the Hattiesburg Convention Commission’s Museum District.
Rick Taylor, director of the convention commission, said the house – which was formerly on Miller Street – was moved late last week to its new location. Masons currently have the house on wooden blocks and are working to lower it onto permanent concrete piers.
If all goes according to plan, officials hope to have the home operational as a museum by October 2020 – the 25th anniversary of McCarty’s gift of $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi.
“It feels fantastic to have this stage completed,” Taylor said. “It took us this long just to get the piece of land we needed (to put the house on).
“I’m optimistic it won’t take that long, but I am a little wary because you never know what could happen along the way. But we’re committed to next fall, and I feel like most of it now falls to us and it’s kind of in our hands – we don’t have anything we have to acquire from others or anything like that.”
Convention commission officials were able to purchase the house in a 2017 tax sale with the idea of relocating it and turning it into a civil rights museum. In order to move the home, workers removed the lower portion of the front porch – which will be replaced – and the back porch, which was a later addition to the home and may or may not be replaced.
Workers also will need to install parking that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with sidewalks for easy access to the property.
“And we’ve actually got to renovate the inside of the house to a 1960s or ‘70s era, which is the period of relevance when (McCarty) did the bulk of her work,” Taylor said. “In a historical home, you fix everything, but you do it in the period in which the activity that was important was conducted there.
“And we’ve got to hook up plumbing and electricity, all those sorts of things. So that’ll take us a full year.”
McCarty, a former washerwoman, revealed in 1995 that she had established a trust fund which stipulated at her death, a portion of her life's savings would be used for scholarships for students needing financial assistance. Those savings, which amounted to about $150,000, were donated to Southern Miss after McCarty died from liver cancer in 1999.
The Oseola McCarty Endowed Scholarship was soon after named in her honor.
The new museum is the Hattiesburg Convention Commission's seventh tourism facility. The commission currently operates the Hattiesburg Zoo, Lake Terrace Convention Center, Saenger Theater, African American Military History Museum, Eureka School Museum and Hattiesburg Visitors Center.