What is a Vicksburg
The Vicksburg Pierced
Column is an architectural elements that is found more
often in Vicksburg than in any other community.
The column is called "pierced" because it is not a solid,
round, or square support. The center section is jigsawn in a variety of patterns and split in the middle or
slightly lower than middle with a boxed section which
often contains a jigsawn ornament. There is a plain or
molded base and capital.
In 1987, the Foundation
conducted an inventory of building which retained pierced
columns and conducted research in order to determine the
origin of the column.
At that time, there were
fifty extant buildings with the columns and evidence
though historic photographs of about fifty more
buildings which, at one time, had porches supported by
The Foundation sent
inquiries to state historic preservation offices
throughout the southeast and north along the Mississippi
River requesting information about builds with similar
columns in their states. From their response, we
learned that there were single examples in New Orleans,
Pensacola, and a couple of other towns, but no community
had anywhere near the number of pierced columns that
We also checked old
newspaper advertisements placed by lumber yards,
builders, and hardware stores to see if pierced columns
were mentioned; they were not. At present, we do
not know who created the first pierced columns or why
they became so popular in Vicksburg.
The pierced column appears
in about 1870, the height of the steamboat era and when
Italianate was the most prevalent style. It has been
suggested that the column was designed by a carpenter
off of one of the steamboats. The reason for the
suggestion is that the center section of the column is oftentimes a
diamond, heart, or spade, being the icons most
associated with card playing. Perhaps the carpenter
played poker aboard a riverboat, but his identify
remains a mystery.
All we know is that in
1987 there were about fifty buildings with columns and
those fifty could be divided into fourteen different styles of
columns. Today, there are only forty buildings that
retain their pierced columns, but the support remains an
important architectural detail that is truly Vicksburg's
Help us find the answer to
this mystery! Do you have a clue in your attic?