Historic artwork in this courthouse portrays our regions past
The City of Hernando rallied to save the famed murals when they were about to be destroyed.
Murals depict the history of our area.
Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto was the first documented European to traverse the southeastern United States, to see the Mississippi River, and to cross it in 1541. Nine murals inside the courthouse portray de Soto and French explorers Bienville, Marquette, and Joliet.
The murals were commissioned for Memphis's Gayoso Hotel.
From 1903 to 1948, these murals hung in the Gayoso Hotel in Memphis. These canvases were the largest ever painted by American muralist Newton Alonzo Wells and are some of the oldest surviving murals in the southeastern United States.
The Goldsmith family gave the murals to Hernando.
In 1948, Fred Goldsmith renovated the Gayoso Hotel (to become the Goldsmith's Department Store) and removed the murals. Seizing an opportunity, Hernando's mayor asked for the murals. The town then raised $5,000 to repair and install the murals in the Hernando Courthouse rotunda in 1953.
Artists recaptured the
Wells' paintings have been restored three times— in the 1950s, the 1970s and again in 2002—under the guidance of an art restorer. The murals have a combined appraised value of over $1 million. The public is welcome to view the murals during regular business hours.
Famous mural moments.
The late Louisiana politician Huey Long was married beneath one of the murals while it hung at the Gayoso Hotel in 1913.
The murals appeared in a 1963 episode of the television show Route 66, which was filmed in Hernando.
What's wrong with this picture?
William Henry Powell's dramatic and brilliantly colored canvas (above) was the last of eight large historical paintings in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. It shows Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto riding a white horse and dressed in Renaissance finery, arriving at the Mississippi River. The mural inaccurately depicts the Southeastern Indian living in teepees. These Indians actually lived in wooden buildings with mud-daub walls and thatched roofs.
The First Contact Trail
This trail explores the historical, cultural, and social changes that occurred after the arrival of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto—the first documented European to see and cross the Mississippi River near present- day DeSoto County in 1541.
[Photo caption-left bottom}: The lobby of the old Gayoso Hotel in Memphis was the first home for the murals.
Erected by Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Exploration. A significant historical year for this entry is 1541.
Location. 34° 49.395′ N, 89° 59.676′ W. Marker is in Hernando, Mississippi, in DeSoto County. Marker is on U.S. 51 south of West Commerce Street, on the right when traveling south. Located at the DeSoto County Courthouse. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2535 US-51, Hernando MS 38632, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hernando (within shouting distance of this marker); Trade helped the Indians develop ties with Hernando de Soto (within shouting distance of this marker); The Dickinson Family (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); "Beale Town Bound" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Baptist Industrial College (approx. 0.4 miles away); Colonel Samuel Powel (approx. 0.6 miles away); Springhill Cemetery (approx. 0.6 miles away); Hernando Central School (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hernando.
Regarding Historic artwork in this courthouse portrays our regions past.
Credits. This page was last revised on April 9, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 9, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 40 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 9, 2021, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.