The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art in Laurel, Mississippi, was opened in 1923 as a memorial to Lauren Eastman Rogers, the only son and only grandson of one of the town's founding families. Lauren had died in 1921 from complications of appendicitis at the age of 23. After his death, Lauren's father, Wallace Brown Rogers, and his grandfather, Lauren Chase Eastman, created the Eastman Memorial Foundation "to promote the public welfare by founding, endowing and having maintained a public library, museum, art gallery and educational institution, within the state of Mississippi."
The Eastman, Gardiner and Rogers families had come to Laurel from Clinton, Iowa, in the 1890s in search of uncut timber. Their influence on the town touched all aspects of the residents' lives: economic, social, educational and aesthetic. All expectations were that Lauren Rogers would assume an important role in the community, taking a leadership role in business and contributing to the general well-being of the community as well. Deeply grieved by his untimely death, Lauren's family was determined that something good should come of the tragedy. The end result of their vision and generosity is the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, which sits on the site where Lauren was building a home for his new bride, Lelia.
Today, 80 years after its founding, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art continues as a memorial to a young man who stood at the threshold of his adult life, full of promise and high expectations. In the aftermath of his tragic death, his family determined to create a living monument to his spirit, his ability and the promise of his future. The Museum, they felt, would serve the community in ways that Lauren would have served it, had he lived. Their vision, generosity and commitment have endured in a Museum that opens its collections to the public six days a week, sponsors an extensive educational program and offers exhibitions that expose the members of the community to the best examples of art of its many forms.