{Pictured above:The African American Museum}

Blending new materials while referencing historical design, the Woodville Welcome Station greets visitors with a wide, colonnaded front porch that seems to say Come on in, make yourself at home.  And that pretty well sums up the attitude of this hospitable hamlet sitting pretty in the southwest corner of the state.  In an area first settled by Jesuits in the late 1600s, Woodville was also known as “Little Jerusalem” by the end of the 19th century for its thriving Jewish population.  The cultural mix has always been welcoming and rich in a town shaded by ancient live oaks and paved in brick sidewalks, a city that was the childhood home of both Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, and Grant Still, one of America’s most renowned African American composers.

“The cultural mix has always been welcoming and rich in a town shaded by ancient live oaks and paved in brick sidewalks…”

After taking in the Welcome Station, enjoy a glimpse of Jeff Davis’ early life at Rosemont Plantation, the gracious home that Samuel and Jane Davis built when their son Jeff was still a toddler, and which only later acquired its name in honor of Jane Davis’ lovingly tended rose garden.  And for more on the life of Grant Still, a tour is in order at the Woodville Historical Museum and Woodville’s African American Museum, both housed in historic downtown structures.

Downtown is also the site of the annual Deer and Wildlife Festival, celebrating yet one more delicious ingredient in the Woodville mix:  Nature with a capital N, spread over the 700-acre Clark Creek Natural Area as well as the region’s acre upon acre of public hunting lands and numerous private game preserves.  In Woodville, the “great outdoors” takes all kinds of shapes, sizes—and flavors.  At the annual Wildlife festival, the Wild Game Cook-Off has chefs whipping up exotic taste treats like alligator sauce picanté along with duck gumbo and a savory variety of venison dishes.

When you’re ready to feast on Nature in an utterly refreshing setting, hiking in Clark Creek serves up the sight of no less than 50 waterfalls, ranging in height from 10 to 30 feet, on a pristinely preserved tract where only foot traffic is allowed and where hardwood and pine forests intermingle along high loess bluffs.

Before heading into the woods be sure to stop for supplies at the Pond Store, the authentically rustic general store first established to serve trade coming off Mississippi River steamboats.  After a fire in 1881, the current building was constructed, and today the store’s hardwood floors, long wooden shelves and display cases offer an irresistible 19th century charm. Out front of the store, the roomy wooden bench enjoys pride of place on the porch, welcoming visitors like you.  Make yourself at home, the bench seems to say.

And, start to finish, that’s mighty easy to do in Woodville.