Art, music and education have a home in Fondren.

In the early 2000’s, The Cedars, a historic home with roots now 175 years deep, was on the brink of demolition. Fondren Renaissance and a group of passionate individuals oversaw the campaign to “Save the Cedars.” Its purpose would be to serve the public good with the arts in mind.

Jim Wilkirson, FRF’s executive director since 2010, says matching grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the National Endowment For the Arts and the Arts Alliance of Jackson and Hinds County gave a basis for the structure’s salvation and a purpose for future generations.

From national touring literary events hosted by Lemuria Books to the annual Symphony at Sunset, The Cedars’ walls and grounds are filled with sights and sounds year-round. Special occasion rentals mean the start of many marriages or the start of artistic careers. “Our Four Seasons of The Cedars has truly been a springboard for so many local painters and photographers,” Wilkirson notes.

It’s been a launching pad for others, too, like Fondren Theatre Workshop, who once used the space for rehearsals and a stop for city-wide Art Walks. The precursor to Art Mix and later, Fondren After 5, the walks were driving tours, a gallery crawl of sorts, and The Cedars played host along Old Canton Road between Brown’s Fine Art and Framing and Wolfe Studios.

“It was another option,” Wilkirson says. “At the time, there was no zoning like that – to be a special events venue in a residential neighborhood. That, plus an arts series with special events, and music programming, open to the public, was an attractive enticement.”

The Cedars has taken its rightful place among Jackson’s gallery and venue options. With regular visitors during an art show’s run to its grounds filled with children for art camps or school functions, Wilkirson says the future will be filled with more educational opportunities.

“We’re looking to more programming we can expand through after-school activities and a broadening of musical scholarships. Anything to give kids an extra opportunity to explore the world of the arts.”

FRF events fall 2016…

September 1 – Opening 5 pm, Awards 6 pm – 5th Annual Cedars Juried Art Show
Two-dimensional and three-dimensional works submitted from a pool of 122 artists from across the state (the most entries ever in the show’s five year run) as selected by the art committee of Butler-Snow and adjudicated by Dr. Samuel M. Gore – Free opening reception; show hangs through September 23, Tue. – Fri., 10am – 4pm.

September 15 – 7 pm – 16th Annual Symphony at Sunset
An evening featuring the talents of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra under
the canopy of trees on the historic Cedars lawn. This year’s event honors Robert and Claudia Hauberg and caps off a year-long celebration of The Cedars’ 175th anniversary – Free – Bring a picnic and chairs.

October 13 – 5 pm – Fall Four Seasons of the Cedars Art Show
Featuring paintings by Pryor Buford Lampton, Buttons Marchetti and Key Neville Whitehead and ceramic angels by Susan Clark. Free opening reception; show hangs through October 28, Tue. – Fri., 10am – 4pm.

November 10 – 5 pm
Inaugural Ornament Auction
Local artists will donate one-of-a-kind ornaments for silent auction. Elizabeth Robinson will be the featured artist. All proceeds will go to support the ongoing artistic endeavors of Fondren Renaissance. Free admission. A buy-it-now option will be available.


September 8 – Author Sarah J. Maas presented by Lemuria, Fondren Renaissance and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (tickets)

September 29 – heARTworks Annual Art Show

October 6 – Habitat For Humanity Young Professionals Picnic

October 11 – PORTICO Artists Rising Show