As the turn-of-the-century brought the next generation of restless, progressive entrepreneurs leaving their homes in the Midwest to carve out a new home, the population centered on Laurel where the sawmills saw blacks and whites working side-by-side, a growing middle class of merchants arise, Mississippi’s first museum built and the first public school for African-American children established.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art opened in 1923 to commemorate Lauren Eastman Rogers, son and grandson to prominent founding fathers of Laurel, MS. Following Lauren Roger’s untimely death in 1921, father Wallace Brown Rogers and grandfather Lauren Chase Eastman created the Eastman Memorial Foundation to promote public welfare in the state of Mississippi by way of education and the arts.
Designed by New Orleans architect Rathbone deBuys and locally built with slender, attenuated metal columns by the Laurel Machine and Foundry Company, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is a breathtaking example of Georgian Revival structure. The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is located on Fifth Avenue in the center of Laurel, MS, at the very site where Lauren Eastman Rogers was building a home for his new bride, Lelia.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art features extensive art collections, including Native American art, European art, American art, Japanese Woodblock prints, British Georgian silver, and seasonal exhibitions. The local history library comprises 10,000 volumes of books, periodicals, exhibition catalogues and other research materials pertaining to art history and art references.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art also offers educational outreach, trunk shows, and classes for continued community involvement and growth.