One hundred and fifty years ago, Carroll County lawyer and future U.S. Senator James Zachariah George purchased several hundred acres of rolling farmland, including a roadside inn. He enlarged the structure into a stunning Greek Revival mansion and named it for his friend, Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Cotesworth Pinckney Smith. In the late 1880s, he added a landmark hexagonal library on the south lawn to house his vast collection of law books.
Cotesworth and its library remained in the George family for multiple generations. In 2013, Senator George’s great-granddaughter, Katharine Saunders Williams, deeded the home and several acres of land over to the non-profit group, Cotesworth Culture and Heritage Center, which had acquired the library in 2010.
Cotesworth Culture and Heritage Center is a 501(c)3 Non Profit foundation dedicated to preserving and sharing the legacy of Cotesworth, including the house, the library and the surrounding acreage. Our plan is to bring this special place into public use as an educational center, heritage site and venue for arts, entertainment and events which benefit all of Mississippi.
Having acquired the mansion in late 2013, CCHC is now joining with Belinda Stewart Architects of Eupora to evaluate the restoration priorities at Cotesworth. A generous grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History has already allowed complete restoration and stabilization of the library. We will soon begin extensive work on the house and will be creating a new entryway to the grounds for visitors. Some events will be continuing at Cotesworth as we work through the restoration process and we hope to be fully ready to plan numerous projects in the very near future.
The Center’s Vision
To establish Cotesworth as a center for Mississippi Culture and Heritage, to be used by residents and visitors for the preservation, education, and interpretation of all aspects of Mississippi’s rich culture and heritage.
Mississippi’s contributions to American and world culture and heritage are extraordinary. Cotesworth presents a rare opportunity to establish a facility that fosters and showcases the broad scope of the state’s culture and heritage, beginning with our agrarian society. Cotesworth was the home of J.Z. George, who served as a United States Senator from 1881 until his death in 1897. He supported federal legislation that had a lasting impact on American society, such as the establishment of the Department of Agriculture and land grant colleges. His statute in the United States Capitol represents the significance of his contributions. The Cotesworth Culture and Heritage Center will serve as a center for education and interpretation of agri-tourism, culinary heritage, the performing arts, visual arts, and writer’s conferences and retreats. Due to its geographical location, it will also serve as a link between two recently-designated National Heritage Areas, the Mississippi Hills and the Mississippi Delta. The vision for Cotesworth provides Mississippi with an asset that will bring economic benefit to the region and to the people of Mississippi.
The library is one of Mississippi's most unusual structures, and the only known existing plantation building to serve this purpose. A wooden fireplace surround is painted to resemble marble. Sunlight flows in from tall windows positioned between the bookshelves.