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Behind the Big House

April 9 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm


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Behind the big house tour the big houses of temple heights and the haven, and go behind the big houses with the Slave Dwelling Project nationally recognized. Featured in hundreds of publications from Smithsonian Magazine to house beautiful.

Beyond the doors of the big house
Something extraordinary is happening…
Someone is making a difference.

Tour two private historic homes and go behind the big houses with Joe Mcgill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, as he tells the stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked there.



  • In depth guided tours
  • Slave narratives told by Joe McGill, The Slave Dwelling Project
  • Historically based interactive experience
  • See 3 historic structures on 1 property
  • Visit a home built by free men of color

Full Description

Tour Temple Heights Mansion and go Behind the Big House to hear Joe McGill, founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, tell the stories of the enslaved people who lived and work there. Next, tour The Haven, built by free men of color who were also slave owners, brothers Thomas and Isaac Williams. Joe McGill will be on hand to tell the fascinating stories of the slaves who were purchased by people of their same color.

Temple Heights, circa 1837

Built by slave labor for Richard Brownrigg as a copy of a family home in Edenton, North Carolina, imposing Temple Heights is four stories with two rooms and a stair hall on each floor. In 1845, the Federal style was amended by the addition of fourteen Doric columns on three sides to reflect the newer Greek Revival style. Later, Temple Heights was the home of Jane Fontaine, one of the founders of Decoration Day. The property contains three historical structures. National Register / Mississippi Landmark/American Buildings Survey

The Haven, circa 1843

Built by free men of color Thomas and Isaac Williams from South Carolina, the home is a raised cottage and reflects the style of the Low Country. Handmade bricks reinforced the structure, and the 179-year-old chimneys still stand straight. The Haven is the only house built in Columbus by free men of color. The Williamses operated a blacksmith shop on their property and moved to Texas in 1850. During a 1980s restoration, a collection of artifacts was discovered and is currently on display in the house.


✓ Tour 2 private historic homes
✓ Guided tours
✓ Nationally recognized presented narratives
x Handicap Accessible
x Transportation

Important information

Know before you go:

  • Tours will take place rain or shine.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, flat-soled shoes;
    heels not permitted
  • Please silence cell phones.
  • Photography is not permitted.
  • No smoking, eating, or drinking is allowed.
  • On street parking at both locations


April 9
10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


$45 Adults
$35 Students
Reservations Necessary Limited Space

Dates & Times

Time 10 am – 1 pm
Saturday, April 9th

Joe Mcgill

Behind The Big House, The Slave Dwelling Project 2-day Event!

Nationally recognized. Featured in hundreds of publications from Smithsonian Magazine to House Beautiful.

April 8-9

Ticketing Info:

Use your phone or print your voucher
In Person
Preservation Pilgrimage Headquarters, 512 Main Street, Across from City Hall
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Last minute ticketing

Last minute ticketing available

Covid-19 precautions

Special health and safety measures apply.

Event Duration

Duration 3 hours

Free Cancellation

Cancel up to 1 hour in advance.


Temple Heights, 515 9th Street N.
Enter via the steps on 6th Ave side of the home, GPS 620 6th Ave. N
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Preservation Society of Columbus
(662) 368-2503