Work at Windsor Ruins site improves safety, accessibility

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The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is erecting temporary metal fencing around the historic Windsor Ruins site in Claiborne County to protect visitors from falling debris. More than a century of exposure to the elements has caused erosion to the 45-foot-tall masonry columns and fracturing of the cast iron capitals.

“Windsor Ruins is iconic, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History is committed to preserving the site’s integrity,” said MDAH director Katie Blount.

MDAH’s improvements at Windsor include cutting back trees and foliage that were encroaching on the columns, clearing the overgrown area between the site and the road, and the installation of new signage. A study commissioned by MDAH includes plans to repair and conserve the 23 columns and five partial columns.

“About three cubic feet of masonry disintegrates annually,” Blount said. “Half the decorative stucco on the columns has been lost and continues to erode, and four to six pieces of the iron capitals detach and fall every year.”

Windsor Plantation was built for Smith Coffee Daniell II in 1861. The house, one of the largest private residences in the state before the Civil War, was constructed near the town of Bruinsburg, where Union soldiers crossed the Mississippi River to begin their attack on Vicksburg. In 1890, a fire destroyed the residence but left standing its 29 enormous columns.

Windsor Ruins was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, acquired by MDAH in 1974 and designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1985.