History Tour: The City of Laurel - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

History Tour: The City of Laurel

An inside look of Lauren Rodger's Museum of Art. Source: Jac Bedrossian. An inside look of Lauren Rodger's Museum of Art. Source: Jac Bedrossian.
LAUREL, MS (WDAM) -

A group of Mid-westerners founded the city of Laurel in 1882.

This happened while they were traveling to Mississippi looking for opportunity in the lumber industry.

“A lot of the buildings around the country could probably trace back to Laurel,” said Jim Rasberry, a Laurel native.

Homes built in the 1900s are still preserved today in the downtown historic district. One of the prominent timber families were the Rodgers. Lauren Rodgers' house is located on 5th Street.

In 1921, Rodgers died at the age of 23 and his family turned his unfinished home into a public library and art museum. 

George Bassi is the executive director of the Lauren Rodgers Museum of Art. He said the Rodgers family “wanted to build something that would maybe stand the test of time.”

The first donation to the museum came from Rodgers’ great aunt. She gave 500 hand-woven Indian baskets. His parents and grandparents donated European and American art pieces. In the 1970s, a local Laurel couple donated their silver collection.

Lauren Rodger’s Museum of art is free to the public, and it is just the way the Rodgers family wanted the legacy of the collection to be. 

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