The Mississippi Department of Archives and History has temporarily closed the historic Shaifer House on the Port Gibson battlefield in Claiborne County.
Thieves removed four wooden support beams and damaged interior flooring and walls in the nearly two-hundred-year-old landmark, the department said in a press release on Thursday.
The theft was discovered on April 1, and Archives officials believe the vandalism occurred earlier that week, according to the release.
The press release said that staff from the Department of Archives and History, which administers the site, have made an initial stabilization of the site to prevent further damage. Because permanent repairs have not yet been made, the site has been closed to the public, the department said.
The department is working with public officials and private citizens to increase security at the site, the press release said.
“The repair of the Shaifer House is a top priority,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “We are consulting with state legislators, local governments, the Port Gibson Heritage Trust, other state agencies, and the National Park Service to ensure the house is preserved for future generations.”
The Shaifer House was built by A.K. and Elizabeth Shaifer beginning in 1826, according to the release. The house was the site of the opening shots of the Battle of Port Gibson. Fought on May 1, 1863, this significant battle was the first in General Ulysses S. Grant’s successful campaign to capture Vicksburg during the Civil War.
The press release notes that the Port Gibson battlefield is a National Historic Landmark and the Shaifer House is a Mississippi Landmark.
The Shaifer House restoration project began in 2006 as a component of the TEA-21 Mississippi Civil War Trails Program. The restored house was dedicated in November 2007.