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Today is April 8, 2020

Landrum’s Homestead & Village

A living history and a legacy

By Sandra M. Buckley

Landrum’s Homestead & Village

There is an out-of-the-ordinary destination in Laurel that offers a rare glimpse back in time, back before any of the modern-day conveniences we are accustomed to today. It is Landrum’s Homestead & Village, a vision brought to life over the last 36 years by Anne and Tom Landrum as a way to teach their grandchildren what life was like for their ancestors.

“My dad had a passion for history and preserving things from our past,” explained Deborah Landrum-Upton of her beloved father, Tom, who recently passed away. “He felt it was important to remember our heritage and teach children how our forefathers lived.”

Lifelong Mississippians, Anne and Tom were married for 67 years and blessed with five children, 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Deborah and her brother, Bruce, along with Anne, live in Laurel and now run the family’s Homestead operation.

It was in 1984 when the original Homestead plan began to take shape, thanks to the family’s collection of past memorabilia from their relatives as well as abundant acreage in Jones County. And as the years passed, the collections grew and they began adding small buildings, such as replicas of what a typical village or small town might have had in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Today, there are more than 85 buildings and displays on the property, with most built by the family and some brought in and restored on-site.

What began as a family learning opportunity has since transformed into a destination for thousands of visitors annually. The family has branded the Homestead as a “living history museum” and invites visitors of all ages to “step back in time and take a walking tour of the past.” “We have visitors from all over the world,” Deborah said. “Canada, England, Germany, Mexico, Scotland and France, to name a few.”

Strolling through the Homestead, visitors pass by a general store, barbershop, schoolhouse, jail, gas station, water tower and much more. There is even an Indian village with two houses, a work shed, corn granary and burial scaffold. Various antique farm equipment, including a restored 1880 Ajax steam engine, corn crib, log sled, gristmill and farm plows, are on view as well. Guests also enjoy seeing the working windmill built in 1932; looking in the Picture House, filled with collections of old-time photos; feeding the fish at the pier; and strolling through the nature trail.

Among the younger visitors’ favorite activities are gem mining, where they pan for rough gemstones direct from North Carolina mines; a laser shooting gallery; a winding maze; and a mystery house that seems to challenge gravity. “Adults love the Homestead, too,” Deborah added. “Most of them remember a lot of things from growing up, brings back lots of memories.”

The Village Chapel is a sight to behold and was built in memory of both Anne and Tom’s parents. “The Chapel is made of cypress and pine built by our family,” Deborah shared. “The walls are whitewashed with exposed overhead beams and handcrafted stained glass windows with beautiful pine handcrafted pews.” The Homestead hosts a variety of scheduled groups and events throughout the year. “We do demonstrations such as bake biscuits on a wood stove and give out samples,” Deborah said. “We grind corn into cornmeal, lead wagon rides through the nature trail and share steam engine demonstrations, to name a few.”

“Landrum’s Homestead has been a great asset to Jones County,” said Lydia Walters, communication & human resources manager for Dixie Electric Power Association. “Their willingness and passion to teach children about old processes and customs are remarkable. Dixie Electric is proud to serve Landrum’s Homestead and be a small part of the educational opportunities they offer.”

During the spring, summer and fall seasons, the Homestead’s grounds are vibrant with colors, blooms and scents, and visitors are invited to bring picnic baskets and enjoy the scenery. Also, during these months the Village Chapel, lakeside pavilion and pier are often reserved for weddings and other events, such as reunions, school field trips, senior adult outings and corporate events.

Then, Christmas at the Homestead is the busiest — and most festive — time of the year, always starting the weekend after Thanksgiving. “We love Christmas,” Deborah said. “This is our favorite time of the year. Candlelight tours, Santa, Christmas lights, demonstrations, entertainment! One comment we hear a lot is, ‘I feel like I’m in a Hallmark Movie.’”

“My daughter and I enjoy the Landrum’s Christmas celebration,” Lydia added. “Landrum’s Homestead is beautifully decorated for the holiday and provides a wonderful opportunity for children to experience days gone by. It is a great start to the Christmas season.”

Year-round, Landrum’s Homestead & Village is eager to welcome visitors and share a special look back at days gone by. “The Homestead is unique,” Deborah shared. “There isn’t anything like it in the state. It’s interesting, educational and fun for all ages. It is 30 acres of beauty, fun and adventure.”

“We are proud of the legacy dad started,” Deborah added. “The Homestead is a labor of love. We will continue to maintain it and will continually add pieces of history to our collection. It’s always a work in progress … it will never be finished!”

Visit www.landrums.com or call 601-649-2546 for upcoming spring events and more information.

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