Vernacular Art Environment, Vicksburg
Located north of downtown Vicksburg on old Highway 61, Margaret's Grocery is a unique vernacular art environment created by Reverend H.D. Dennis. Margaret Rogers Dennis ran the former country store for years. When she met and married Reverend Dennis in the early 1980s, he promised her that he would transform her simple store into a place that the world would come to see. Although the site is no longer open as a store, the Grocery has attracted visitors from around the world to experience Reverend Dennis' creation.
Dennis, who was born in Rolling Fork (about 40 miles north of Vicksburg in the Delta) in 1916, has been preaching since the age of nineteen. He views his work on the Grocery as part of his ministry, a place that he has created where people can come to worship. Visitors to the site can receive lengthy sermons from Dennis. He most often focuses on the evils of the modern world, reserving special condemnation for the casinos operating just south of the Grocery.
The site, described as a "theological park" by vernacular art scholar Stephen Young, is crowded with signs, gates, towers, and other items created by Dennis. The Reverend is constantly making changes and modifications to the site, adding new signs, repainting items with new designs, and adding more details to existing structures. In addition to the external work, the interior of the grocery is also ornately decorated. Dennis has used beads, Christmas lights, artificial flowers, and other inexpensive items to create a unique worship space inside the grocery.
Articles on Margaret's Grocery:
Thompson, Chris with Chad Chisolm and Dorothy-Dean Thomas. "Reverend H. D. Dennis and His Church in Vicksburg," in Mississippi Folklife, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Spring 1999), p. 50-55.
Young, Stephen. " 'All of world-kind have been right here': The Theology and Architecture of Rev. H.D. Dennis" in The Southern Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 1-2 (Fall-Winter 2000/01), p.100-111.