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October 1, 2023

Mound Bayou Bank

Renovation has been made possible by the Mississippi Heritage Trust

By Mark H. Stowers, The Bolivar Bullet

Mound Bayou is rich with history. From its founding in 1887 when freed slaves Isaiah T. Montgomery and his cousin, Benjamin T. Green bought 840 acres of Mississippi Delta swampland covered with dense hardwood forest and literally cleared and built the town, the Delta hamlet has seen boom and bust times. These days the town of 1,500 or so is looking to remember its history and renovate an important building.

Renovating the Mound Bayou Bank is a top priority for the Mississippi Heritage Trust and half of the $1 million needed has been secured. A $500,000 grant from the National Park Service Save America’s Treasures Grant is in the bank waiting for the full amount needed to start the work.

Lolly Rash, Executive Director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust, described the undertaking.

“We are working on the proposal with the National Register nomination. It was built in 1904 and operated for 10 years,” said Rash. “Mound Bayou is a very special place for telling the African American experience in Mississippi and the United States in that is has so many of the buildings still from that time period still in existence. While the Mound Bayou bank certainly needs work, it is stable and can be restored to help share this history of Isaiah Montgomery and Benjamin Green which is not as widely known as it should be.”

Rash is also working with the city to find the remaining funds needed and to get the work planned and started.

“We are currently working on a film on the history of Mound Bayou that is funded by a National Parks Service African American Civil Rights Grant. We’ve long been involved with helping tell the story of Mound Bayou,” said Rash. “It’s such an incredibly rich history in our state and we are proud to be involved.”

The advocacy and education based organization has a mission to “save and renew places meaningful to Mississippians and their history. We do programs like the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi. This June, we will do Heritage Awards to recognize all the great work being done in preservation around our state. We just finished up a set of design guidelines for Cleveland.”

MississippiHeritage.com can take donations for the amount on their website. For more information, they can be emailed at preservation@mississippiheritage.com.

“We can take checks, credit cards and cold hard cash,” said Rash.