Work took me to Jackson, Mississippi (I cant help but spell it out loud each time I write it, it’s this kind of chant that I learned as a child: m-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i … doesn’t have the same ring when written out…sad ). I had never been to either Jackson or Mississippi for that matter, so it looked to be just another city on a map, and I really didn’t expect much beyond the usual conference scene, maybe some overcooked chicken dinners and for sure lots of hand shaking. But the city has such treasures and add to that an interesting history, of which I will now divulge the from my mental clippings of four days thither.
After orienting myself to my hotel and it’s surrounding, I began to take in what is Jackson Downtown. Each day walking down Lamar Street, in the morning from the hotel, coffee in hand, and on my return, sun setting behind faded buildings.
The curved steel and blue of a certain structure caught my gaze again and again, like something from a glamorous movie during the golden age of Hollywood! Luckily, downtown Jackson doesn’t have much going on so I could stand in the middle of the street and snap a few pictures!
The Jackson Grayhound Station. It is fitting that it be a beautiful lone ranger in the otherwise banal high rises and brass pillars of it’s neighbors. My behavior of staring at buildings and snapping photos like a NYC tourist did not go completely unnoticed.
The passers-by just shrugged hurrying off to their day time occupations. Jackson had an abandoned hush over it like an elementary school during summer. There was evidence of it being looked after, a nicely arranged pot of flowers here and polished letters advertising a Law Office there…but people were few and far between. The ambiance gave me a Martian Chronicles feel and I studied the buildings like relics of a lost civilization. Who used to walk these streets? Men in double breasted pinstripe suits tipping their fedoras, the click click of heels, shop windows reflecting a navy wool skirt suit and red lipstick.
Researching the Old Grayhound Station, I found that it was the end point on the long journey for the Civil Rights protesters, The Freedom Riders during the early 60’s. They road buses to key locations in the movement, raising awareness for their cause and speaking to the masses of repressed and brave African Americans throughout the South (Kevin Levin, Professor Civil Rights Tour 2014 ).
It was restored in 1988 by a the local architect Robert Parker Adams and now houses his interior design offices. Wow! To have that kind of money to recognize an amazing building in need of a face-lift, buy it, and make it fabulous! What a gift to the city of Jackson. Luckily it wasn’t torn down for some 1980’s monstrosity of a cement bloc sky scrapper or meeting its end as another downtown fast food restaurant.
The Jackson Grayhound Station is a classic 1930’s Art Deco design built cerca 1937. Smooth lines, chrome and simplicity. I read somewhere that the discovery of the King Tut’s tomb (1922) and the artifacts from within influenced the movement, but I couldn’t tell you where I read it so now it’s just something to ponder.
Here are some pictures of the interior, love love love the checkered floors, fenced reception and well just about everything! (Photos from The New Southern View )
And I leave you with one more mystery, another historic building on the edge of downtown Jackson yet to be researched by this amateur blogger and photographer (did you see the ones I took?!? It’s all in the filter darling…sometimes I even impress myself he he).