Posted on May 14, 2019
Our thanks to Lauren Rogers Museum of Art Director, George Bassi, for providing our program last Tuesday!
L-R: Mark Killingsworth, George Bassi, Erin Granberry.
President-Elect Mark Killingsworth filled in for Steven Utroska and presided over today’s meeting. Garland Sullivan gave today’s invocation Bill MacLauchlan led us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Thanks to Mark Killingsworth who served as our greeter today.
Brandon Hodges thanked those who helped with today’s meeting and introduced our guests. Jerry Gilder has his wife Nancy as his guest today. Bill McLeod has Matthew Rigel as his guest today. Matthew has submitted his application for membership. Mark asked for volunteers to sign up for the Meals on Wheels program.
Erin Granberry then introduced our guest speaker, George Bassi. George has served as the Director of the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel since 1993. He is a Rotarian and has served as the Laurel Club’s president and is a Paul Harris Fellow.
The City of Laurel was incorporated in 1882. Both Laurel and Hattiesburg were very successful lumber towns because lumber could be shipped in four directions by rail. The Eastman Gardner lumber mill was Laurel’s first. That mill produced crossties used in the construction of the railroads. By 1920 there were four mills in Laurel shipping almost one million feet of lumber daily. Laurel’s population had grown to just over 20,000.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art is located off Fifth Avenue one block from the center of Laurel. The museum was designed by an architect out of New Orleans. It was erected in 1923 on the foundations of Lauren Rogers’s house, which was incomplete at the time of his death. Lauren died at the age of 23 after complications from an appendectomy. He was an only child and the only grandchild of Mr. Eastman. The family donated one-half million dollars to build the museum and set up a supporting foundation. The building served as an art galley and a public library until 1978. The Eastman collection was used to start the museum.
In 2013 the museum was expanded and now boasts of 30,000 square feet of exhibit and storage space. It is Mississippi’s first art museum, occupying two acres in downtown Laurel, including the childhood home of Lauren Rogers.
The family established the museum and library to be free to everyone. That tradition still stands today with a few exceptions for programming supply charges. The annual budget is $1.1 million dollars. That money is raised from memberships and special fundraising events to support nine staff. More than 80 volunteers work at the museum and travel with museum programs and exhibits. The museum provides programming opportunities for nursing homes, the University of Southern Mississippi, William Carey University, the Children’s Center and the Dubard School.
Exhibits you can currently see at Lauren Rogers include American Art, Native American Art, Japanese Woodblock Prints, and a collection of British Georgian Silver.
To learn more visit
Mark thanked our speaker and then adjourned the meeting with our motto, "Service Above Self."