Port Gibson, MS

Legend has it that Grant said Port Gibson was “too beautiful to burn” – so Port Gibson has this saying on signs around town and in their literature.

I think the most striking thing about Port Gibson (it happens to be the 3rd-oldest incorporated town in the US) is the First Presbyterian Church there.

First Presbyterian Church - Gold Hand Pointing Toward Heaven - Port Gibson MS

That gold hand pointing up is made of metal – it was originally carved from wood. It’s exactly what it’s supposed to be – pointing toward heaven. If you have a super-zoom camera lens, you can see that there are little prickly things all over the top of the hand which keep birds from landing on it.

This is from the church’s website:

By 1859, the congregation numbered 160, and they decided to tear down their old sanctuary and build anew. But because of threats of war, the northern contractor only completed the walls up to the parapet. Elder H.N. Spencer took over the project, and lent the congregation $8,000 to complete it, a debt which he forgave in his will. He is also said to have given $500 in silver coins to be cast into the bell in the steeple, weighing 2,032 pounds. It was first rung on October 10, 1860. Mr. Spencer completed the building in December of 1860, the same month in which Dr. Butler died. His funeral is said to have been the first service held in the new sanctuary.

The Hand pointing to Heaven” is the unique feature of this Romanesque Revival style edifice. The first hand was carved from wood by Daniel Foley, a young local craftsman. The ravages of time, however, destroyed it; and around 1901, the present hand was commissioned and installed. It was taken down in 1989 to be repaired and replated. It was raised again in 1990 and placed atop a newly re-enforced steeple.

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