Walter Harvell Jackson and Pellerree Jackson, Palestine Gardens (formerly Palestinian Gardens)

Status

Extant

Address

201 Palestine Garden Road , Lucedale, Mississippi, 39452, us

Visiting Information

Palestine Gardens is open for visitors Tuesdays through Saturday, as well as Sunday afternoons, during the spring and summer months for no charge.

About the Artist/Site

A native son of Mississippi’s Jefferson Davis County, Walter Harvell Jackson was a seminary student at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA in 1930 when one of his teachers challenged his students to “study the Bible as a ‘place book.’” Jackson continued to think about this idea after being ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1933, and served in churches in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Alabama. Finally, when he was posted to Lucedale, Mississippi in the early 1950s to serve the First Presbyterian Church, he used his life’s savings to purchase forty acres of property in Mississippi’s “piney woods,” which he would turn into a miniature Holy Land in an attempt to make the land of the bible “come alive.”

Beginning in 1953 and continuing through1960, when it opened to the public on Easter Sunday, Reverend Jackson and his wife began to build their model of the Holy Land. At the scale of one yard to one mile, they used concrete, decorative landscaping stones, and cinder blocks along with such simple tools as shovels and a wheelbarrow.

It was intended as a visual representation of the Holy Land at the time of Jesus, but the emphasis was always less on the constructions than on the message they wanted to impart. In 1971 the Jacksons’ daughter and her husband, Jim Kirkpatrick, moved to Lucedale, and helped to expand the attractions. After the Jacksons’ deaths, the younger couple tried for a couple of years to keep it up themselves, but they quickly became overwhelmed, particularly given the ongoing fight against Mississippi’s lush natural foliage. Then, Don Bradley, who had visited the site as a third grader, purchased it in 1994 from the Kirkpatricks. At that time, he changed the name from Palestinian Gardens, the original name the Jacksons used, to Palestine Gardens, in order to “prevent any misconception that we may be of the Islam religion.” Since his purchase, he has tried to restore some of the crumbling buildings and add enhancements for visitors, including flagstone paths.

Tour guides narrate Old and New Testament bible stories as visitors view the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, Judea, the Sea of Galilee, Jericho, Bethlehem (with inn, stable, and nativity figures), Jerusalem, Nazareth, the Via Dolorosa, and more, including a pillar of salt that represents Lot’s wife, and Golgotha’s crosses and Christ’s empty tomb. Bradley has taken advantage of the internet to be able to add more structures and elements to the existing works, and the site now covers almost twenty acres.

Palestine Gardens is open for visitors Tuesdays through Saturday, as well as Sunday afternoons, during the spring and summer months for no charge.

~Jo Farb Hernández





Map & Site Information

201 Palestine Garden Road
Lucedale, Mississippi, 39452 us
Latitude/Longitude: 30.9930747 / -88.6202271

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