Tallahatchie County Courthouse Restoration
Project Location: Sumner, Mississippi
Client: Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors
Date Completed: 2014

The second district court facility in Tallahatchie County was the location of the 1955 Emmett Till murder trial. The murder, trial and subsequent display of his body in Chicago has been described by many as the “spark” of the civil rights movement in America.  Three months after his death, Rosa Parks stated that she thought of “that poor boy Emmett” as she sat on the bus in Montgomery waiting to be arrested.  Scope of services first included an existing facility analysis and feasibility study to determine if the courthouse could feasibly be restored to house a museum dedicated to the memory of the events surrounding Emmett Tills murder and trial. The project was expanded to focus on all the sites associated with the events.  A driving tour has been developed and marked. Various planning efforts have continued to occur focusing on various specific aspects of the big picture.

The first phase of the Courthouse restoration (2010) repaired the immediate structural and exterior restoration needs. The existing high silica content slate roof was repaired and supplemented with matching slate.  The exterior masonry was partially tuck-pointed using mortar that matched the original (tested) composition using local Tallahatchie River sand. The next phase included the rehabilitation of the Historic Wong Grocery building (2012), including a rear addition, for museum and pre-function tour space. The third phase (2014) was the courtroom and window restoration project that included the full second floor restoration (Court) and various first floor public areas. The project included removal of non-original walls, installation of new windows, doors, MEP, elevator, restrooms and coordination of roof truss repair, acoustic plaster ceiling installation, installation of courtroom equipment/ furnishings to match original photos and modifications to meet ADA.

Restoration and enhancement of the courtroom provides a living artifact within the historic Tallahatchie County 2nd District Courthouse to help interpret the civil rights movement in Mississippi related to the Emmett Till Murder trial of 1955 and the subsequent events of the Civil Rights Movement in America.