Lauren Rogers Museum of Art

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 the 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.

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Hotel Pinehurst

Constructed in 1914, the Hotel Pinehurst was owned and operated by T.B. Horton until 1939. The hotel included over 100 rooms, a grand lobby and entranceway, and a number of dining rooms, offices, and stores. The Arabian Theater was added in 1924. This hotel was among the first in Mississippi to offer air-conditioned rooms. The Hotel Pinehurst was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 and demolished in 1988. Pinehurst Park was built where the hotel once stood.


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Laurel Machine and Foundry

Today, Laurel Machine & Foundry Co. operates as a general contract shop, offering a full range of services including:

  • Full Line Metal Service Center
  • Structural, sheet, and plate fabrication in carbon, stainless steels, and aluminum, including tubing, pipe, mitered fittings, and forged steel flanges. Our fabricated products also include pressure vessels and storage tanks, as well as fabricated steel assemblies.
  • Manufacturing and repair of custom machinery and machine parts from carbon and stainless steel, brass, and aluminum, for new and used equipment.
  • Casting work in gray iron, alloy gray iron, ductile iron, both rough and machined. Casting can be poured in sizes from 25 pounds to 7,000 pounds.
  • Mill supplies, including over 10,000 industrial and oil field mill supply items.

Company History

1904 – Laurel Machine and Foundry Co. established as a manufacturer and supplier of metal parts for the Lindsey Eight-Wheel Wagon Factory.

1911 – James Warren (Jim) Mulloy and brother Richard Edward (Dick) Mulloy purchase Laurel Machine and Foundry Co. with eight employees housed in two wooden buildings.

1912 – James Warren (Jim) Mulloy becomes President (First Generation)

1912 – Richard Edward (Dick) Mulloy becomes Vice President (First Generation)

1917 – Richard Edward (Dick) Mulloy becomes President (First Generation)

1917 – Lilley Q. Mulloy becomes Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer (First Generation)

1918 – First Machine Shop constructed

1924 – LMF builds first “explosion” gun for Mr. Mason, inventor of Masonite

1939 – James Patrick (Pat) Mulloy becomes Vice President (Second Generation)

1948 – Current Fabrication Shop constructed

1963 – Current general Machine Shop constructed

1972 – Patrick Eugene (Gene) Mulloy becomes Vice President (Third Generation)

1974 – Supply House opens to public

1979 – Foundry Division switches to all-electric induction furnaces.

1982 – Patrick Eugene (Gene) Mulloy becomes President (Third Generation)

1982 – James William (Jim) Mulloy becomes Vice President (Third Generation)

1989 – Foundry division relocates to Hawkes Industrial Park with a new 50,000 sq. /ft. facility

1997 – Trent Alan Mulloy becomes Vice President (Fourth Generation)

1999 – LMF Celebrates its 95th Anniversary

1999 – CNC Machining Division relocates to Hawkes Industrial Park with a new 30,000 sq. /ft facility and the largest horizontal machining center in the state of Mississippi (Mazak FK-1080)

2002 – LMF gains ISOO 9001:2000 Certification

2004 – LMF Celebrates its 100th Anniversary

2005 – Patrick Eugene (Gene) Mulloy becomes CEO of Laurel Machine and Foundry Co. (Third Generation)

2005 – Trent Alan Mulloy becomes President of Laurel Machine and Foundry Co. (Fourth Generation)

2007 – Robotic welding system installed

2011 – 1500kw power unit / (2) 7200lb furnaces installed at Foundry

2014 – Laurel Machine and Foundry Co. celebrates 110th anniversary


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Leontyne Price

Mary Violet Leontyne Price was born on February 10, 1927, in Laurel, Mississippi, to James Anthony Price, a carpenter, and Kate Baker Price, a midwife with a beautiful singing voice. Price showed an interest in music from a young age and was encouraged by her parents. After beginning formal music training at age 5, she spent much of her time singing in the choir at St. Paul Methodist Church in her hometown.

Following her time at Oak Park Vocational High School, where she was a standout pianist and member of the glee club, Price enrolled at the College of Education and Industrial Arts in Wilberforce, Ohio. She began her studies focusing on music education, but was later encouraged by faculty to switch her concentration to voice. After graduation, Price headed to New York City to attend The Juilliard School on a full scholarship.

At Juilliard, Price studied under the tutelage of her beloved vocal instructor, Florence Page Kimball. Price’s beautiful lyric soprano voice landed her feature roles in many of the school’s operas. After witnessing Price perform the role of Alice Ford in a student production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Falstaff, composer Virgil Thomson leapt at the chance to bring her into one of his productions.

In April 1952, Leontyne Price made her Broadway debut as St. Cecilia in the revival of Thompsen’s Four Saints in Three Acts. Immediately following the show’s three-week engagement, she was cast in a touring production of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. For the next two years, Price dazzled audiences with her stunning portrayal of Bess, gaining acclaim with her flawless vocal interpretations. During her tour with the show, she married co-star William Warfield, who portrayed Porgy.

In 1955, Price starred in the NBC Opera Theatre’s television production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. This performance led to a string of TV operas featuring the budding starlet.

In her opera stage debut at the San Francisco Opera House in 1957, Price took on the role of Madame Lidoine in Francis Poulenc’s Dialogues des carmélites. The moving performance marked the commencement of her rise to fame in the serious opera community. By 1958, Price was wowing European audiences at such famous venues as the Covent Garden in England and La Scala in Milan. She had reached stardom at home as well as on an international level.

Price’s debut at the New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House in 1961 as Leonora in Il Trovatore was such a success, it marked the beginning of her residency as one of the opera’s principal sopranos. She flourished as a prima donna at the Met, starring in such roles such as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West and, perhaps most notably, as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra.

Price’s fame led her to be widely regarded as the first African-American singer to gain international reputation in opera, and allowed her to be selective with her roles throughout the 1970s. She chose to perform in opera productions less frequently, focusing mainly on recitals.

Price delivered her farewell performance in the titular role of Aida at the Met in 1985, which was telecast and hailed as one of the most successful operatic performances in the Met’s history. Throughout her career, Price’s recordings have earned her numerous honors, including more than a dozen Grammy Awards. She rose to stardom as a woman of color in a time and profession where the odds were not in her favor.


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Lindsey Eight Wheel Log Wagon Company

After John Lindsey patented the Lindsey Eight Wheel Log Wagon in 1899, he and his brother, S.W. Lindsey, moved to Laurel, Mississippi where they organized the Lindsey Wagon Company.

While John Lindsey continued with the company as Secretary and Treasurer; S.W. Lindsey was the President and Manager.  John had the brilliance to invent the product, but S.W. had the managerial skills needed to develop an assembly-line process of manufacturing.

An interesting side note is that the Wagon Company is reputed to have always paid their employees in silver dollars.

The concept and the manufacturing were both extremely successful and the Eight Wheel Log Wagon was found all across the U.S.

During World War I, the Wagon Company shipped many wagons to France for the United States Government. After the Armistice, the Company received the following Award of Merit form the War Department:

“The War Department of the United States of America recognizes in this Award for Distinguished Service, the loyalty, energy, and efficiency in the performance of war work by which Lindsey Wagon Company aided materially in obtaining victory for the arms of the United States of America in the War with the Imperial German Government, and the Imperial and Royal Austrian-Hungarian Government.”  Signed Newton D. Baker, Secretary of War.

Besides making wagons for domestic use, the Wagon Company exported wagons to Central and South America.  We know there was an office in Belize during World War II.

After the death of Sam Lindsey Sr. in 1950, the Company ceased manufacture.


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Oak Park School

The lumber barons of Laurel differed from other mill owners in the region in another quite important manner. Whereas many of the other mill owners were content to rely on currently accepted managerial techniques in their relations with their employees, the owners of the Eastman Gardiner Company insisted on a more progressive management policy. They distributed enormous sums of money to their employees in the form of bonus payments. They financed the construction of the bungalows in which they lived and provided credit to them in order that they might buy them instead of pay rent. They built a modern school system and staffed it with qualified teachers, headed by a superintendent from Bristol, Tennessee named R.H. Watkins. They sent Dr. Watkins to Chicago to study education at the University of Chicago, so that he would bring back with him the latest and most modern educational techniques to Laurel. In matters of race relations, they refused to accept the prevailing system of segregation as much as they were legally allowed to do so. They paid African-American employees of the mill a wage that far surpassed any wage that they could make in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta. They created and financed a black educational system, surrounding the Oak Park Vocational School, the state’s first municipal agricultural and vocational school for blacks. As a result, Laurel’s progressive leaders spawned an environment that enabled black Laurelites to create one of the first African-American middle class communities in the South. African-American entrepreneurs were able to secure enough capital to open small businesses and companies targeting the black community.


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Masonite International Corporation

Masonite International Corporation is a leading manufacturer of doors and door components, based in Mississauga, Canada. Approximately two-thirds of sales come from interior doors. All told, the company each day produces some 120,000 doors, which it sells to more than 50 countries. The North American market accounts for close to 85 percent of sales. Masonite sells to a variety of customers, including distributors, jobbers, big box home center chains, and wholesale and retail building supply dealers.

The legacy of the Masonite name can be traced to engineer and inventor William H. Mason, who apprenticed under Thomas A. Edison. Mason married into a Wisconsin lumber family and became interested in finding a way to make commercial use of the mountains of wood chips cast off by milling operations. With timber becoming depleted, lumbermen were willing to back his efforts as a way to find a secondary use for their waste. Mason moved to Laurel, Mississippi, where his wife’s family owned saw mills that could supply all the waste he needed for his experiments. He soon developed a way to extract turpentine from lumber, simultaneously reducing weight and improving quality, but his preoccupation was to convert wood chips into fibers that could in turn be used to make quality paper products. To make wood fibers, he fashioned a gun of sorts. Wood chips and water were packed into a steel tube, which was then sealed with a plug. After a blowtorch heated the tube, creating a tremendous amount of pressure, the plug was pulled, and the wood chips exploded into individual wood fibers.

Mason now turned his attention to making a salable product out of the fibers. To his disappointment, the fibers he produced did not make for very good paper, and so he began to think of making a lumber replacement that would be an improvement over plywood. He tried pressing the slurry produced from mixing wood fibers and water, at first using presses designed to make paper. The results were not satisfactory, leading Mason to try other presses. He had limited success in his efforts until chance intervened one day when he took a break from his experiments to have lunch. He was unaware that a pressure valve on his press was leaking, which allowed high-pressured steam to react with the fibers. Before going to lunch, he forgot to release the pressure on the press, and as a result the steam was allowed to interact with the fibers until he returned to the laboratory some time later. When he saw the smoldering press, he quickly released the steam, opened the press and was surprised to discover the fibers had turned into a hard, grainless particleboard. With further experimentation, he was able to produce thin sheets of the materials, well suited for the construction industry. He named the new substance after himself, calling it Masonite.

Wisconsin and Laurel lumber companies funded Mason to establish the Mason Fiber Company in 1924; four years later it would adopt the Masonite Corporation name. In October 1925 construction was started on the company’s first plant, located in Laurel, to produce insulation board and hardboard. It began operations in 1926. Mason continued to improve Masonite, creating attractive finishes and increasing the strength through a tempering process. With the advent of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Masonite thrived because of its cheap price, and because of its quality and strength it would remain a standard construction product even after the economy rebounded. Mason was awarded a string of patents connected to Masonite before his death in 1940.


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New Orleans & Northeastern Rail Road

The idea of a railroad running the 196 miles between Meridian and New Orleans was conceived by William H. Hardy. In his autobiography, Hardy explains his dream:

“In 1868, while residing in Paulding, I began a study of future lines of transportation in our reunited county. This study was initiated by the thought of the miserable road over which I had to travel to reach the nearest station, Enterprise, on the Mobile & Ohio Railroad. It was twenty miles from Paulding, over a dirt road which was almost impassable in wet weather.

The war was over, of course, and reconstruction was underway. I felt that the South would soon begin to show it great recuperative power but that if her former position of wealth and prosperity was to be regained it must be through the building of new railroads.

I got out a map of the United States and began to speculate upon a network of new railroads, particularly in the South. Starting with the hypothesis that New York, San Francisco and New Orleans, then the three greatest commercial centers of the country, should be the starting point for all great trunk lines, I drew lines on the map connecting these three cities. The most direct railroad lines between these cities obviously would be the most used and the best paying.

The line I drew on the map from New York to New Orleans, I found ran through Meridian and Jasper County. At that time the Alabama Great Southern Railroad was nearing completion. It ran from Chattanooga, Tennessee, through Birmingham to Meridian. The more I thought of a line from Meridian to New Orleans the more I became convinced of its feasibility as well as desirability.”

The New Orleans & Northeastern Railroad was incorporated on March 16, 1870, and preliminary surveys made in the following two years. All work on the railroad came to an abrupt halt, however, because of a severe depression in 1873.[ii] Even though all funds dried up, Hardy refused to give up. In 1877, Hardy contacted a New York banking firm of Otto Plock & Co. through Montgomery, Alabama, banker Fred Wolf. Plock, in turn, arranged financing of the construction of the NO&NE with Baron Emil d’Erlanger, a German-born financier living in England. Because the old NO&NE charter had expired, a new one was incorporated in 1880 with Fred Wolf as president, and Hardy as vice-president. The Erlanger Syndicate also owned other railroads, namely the Cincinnati Southern, the Alabama Great Southern, the Vicksburg & Meridian, and the Vicksburg, Shreveport & Pacific. These roads, along with the NO&NE, were known as the Queen & Crescent System.

To oversee construction of the NO&NE, which started in 1881, George B. Nicholson was appointed chief engineer of the southern division, extending from New Orleans to the Pearl River, while Samuel Whinery became chief engineer in charge of the northern division from Pearl River to Meridian. Actual construction work started in February 1882, and by August of 1883, trains were running as far south as Hattiesburg, and the track was completed to a point about 26 miles north of the Pearl River. Track was also completed between New Orleans and Pearl River, with the exception of the long bridge over Lake Pontchartrain.[iv] The bridge was the last part to be completed. It was considered the longest railroad bridge in the world, and included 21 miles of wood trestle and two draw spans. Many miles of the approach trestles were later filled in to reduce maintenance. The first regular freight train from Meridian to New Orleans ran on Saturday, November 3, 1883, while the first regular passenger train ran on November 18th.

The Southern Railway acquired an interest in the New Orleans & Northeastern, as well as the other components of the Queen & Crescent System, in 1895. In late 1916, Southern finally purchased total control of the NO&NE by buying out the remaining English-controlled stock. All three lines (CNO&TP, AGS, and NO&NE) maintained their separate corporate identities, but were owned by and operated as a part of the Southern Railway system. The New Orleans & Northeastern was later merged into the Alabama Great Southern on January 31, 1969. Southern Railway merged with Norfolk & Western on June 1, 1982, becoming Norfolk Southern, who continues to operate the line today.


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Eastman, Gardiner & Co. Building

Eastman, Gardiner & Company sawmill plant occupied 26,000 acres of timberland on the south side of downtown Laurel, Mississippi from 1891 until 1937. The Eastman, Gardiner & Company plant contained a sawmill, shingle mill, planing mill, dry kilns, and a pole road which was transformed into a standard gauge steel-rail logging railroad running east out of Laurel.

In 1893, the existing sawmill was replaced by one much larger, with the capacity to cut 25-million feet of lumber per year. By 1897, the addition of new mill equipment increased capacity to 40-million feet of lumber cut per year and by 1902 production capacity reached 60-million feet.

Laurel and Northwestern Railway, a new logging railroad running northwest from the Eastman, Gardiner & Company sawmill, was built in 1897. The rail line continued expansion throughout the 1890s and 1900s, reaching the Jones, Smith, Covington, and Simpson counties and the Leaf River near Taylorsville.

Between 1917-1933, Eastman, Gardiner & Company also built hardwood mills in Laurel, forming the Eastman-Gardiner Hardwood Company and the Pascagoula Hardwood Company.

Eastman, Gardiner & Company capitalized on the lumber boom of the early 1900s, progressing the state’s economy and production. On October 9, 1937 the sawmill in Laurel and remaining timber holdings were sold to the Green Lumber Company, who operated parts of the plant on a greatly reduced scale throughout the 1940’s.


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