To Lexington (Miss.) and Back

Well, I haven’t done a “To . . . and Back” posting of late, mainly because when summer really comes in, I usually don’t get much farther (or is it “further”?) than my front porch–anything else just takes too much effort. But since the weather’s been so reasonable lately (which reasonableness ended, I think, yesterday), I recently took a quick jaunt up to Lexington, one of my favorite little towns in Mississippi. I love the courthouse square and the way you can see the tall domed tower from all vantage points as you enter town. I love that every major Christian denomination has a historic building–Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, AME–and there’s even a sweet little Neoclassical Jewish synagogue.

Mr. Herman Flowers, a longtime member of the synagogue, helped me get to know Lexington almost a decade ago now. His father, a Jewish merchant, had established a dry goods business on the square, and he had taken over the store when he reached adulthood: it seemed to me Mr. Flowers knew everyone who had ever lived in Lexington. He loved to tell the story of each historic building in town, because he knew each generation who had lived there. Mr. Flowers is gone now, and I miss his presence whenever I turn that corner on Hwy 17 and start to climb the hill toward the courthouse.

Lexington is just a few miles from the Delta, and to me, it has a similar feel to it as Yazoo City, which is perched right on the bluffs overlooking the Delta. I can’t define the special quality in these two towns, but there’s something there I haven’t found in other Mississippi places.

Most of the town is in the Lexington Historic District which was listed on the National Register in 2001. Lexington is also a Certified Local Government and is a part of the Mississippi Main Street program.

The day I drove up there, it was only in the 80s, humid but not oppressively so. Everything was green and happy after our recent rains. I got off the interstate at the Pickens exit and headed northwest on Hwy 17, which is a lovely highway. Here’s a little taste of what I saw along the way:

Eureka Masonic Academy, "Little Red Schoolhouse" Built in 1947, this building functioned as both a lodge hall and a private academy. During the 20th century, it also served as a public school for many years. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Order of the Eastern Star.

Eureka Masonic Academy, "Little Red Schoolhouse." Built in 1847, this building functioned as both a lodge hall and a private academy. During the 20th century, it also served as a public school for many years. It is regarded as the birthplace of the Order of the Eastern Star. It was one of those buildings that was thought worthy of preservation way back at the beginning of the preservation movement in Mississippi.

EurekaHistoricMarker

Looking toward the courthouse square, Lexington, Miss.

Looking toward the courthouse square, Lexington, Miss. This Queen Anne and Romanesque courthouse was designed by the Knoxville, TN, firm of Walter Chamberlin & Co., which also designed the Yalobusha Co Courthouse at Water Valley. The present courthouse replaced a c.1850 courthouse that, it is speculated, was designed by none other than William Nichols. Notice also the brick street.

To see a photo of the Yalobusha County Courthouse by Joseph A, click here.

This old stagecoach inn on Depot Street was built before the railroad came through. It started out as a regular ol' I-house around the 1860 and then just grew and grew over the years into what we see today.

This old stagecoach inn on Depot Street was built before the railroad came through. It started out as a regular ol' I-house around 1860 and then just grew and grew over the years into what we see today.

old Holmes County Community Hospital (1930). Designed by A. Hays Town when he was still just a draftsman in N.W. Overstreet's Jackson firm. This building was left out of the National Register district, even though it's only a few buildings away from the boundary.

old Holmes County Community Hospital (1930). Designed by A. Hays Town when he was still just a draftsman in N.W. Overstreet's Jackson firm. This building was left out of the National Register district, even though it's only a few buildings away from the boundary.

Holmes County Jail, built in 1936 as Public Works Administration (PWA) project #1019, this jail was designed by the Jackson firm of N.W. Overstreet & Town (this was after Town became a partner in the firm--when he designed the hospital, he wasn't yet a partner). The jail is a designated Mississippi Landmark.

Holmes County Jail, built in 1936 as Public Works Administration (PWA) project #1019, this jail was designed by the Jackson firm of N.W. Overstreet & Town (this was after Town became a partner in the firm--when he designed the hospital, he wasn't yet a partner). The jail is a designated Mississippi Landmark.

As I mentioned, Lexington has many beautiful religious buildings as well–unfortunately I didn’t get all of them on film (well, I guess that’s an obsolete saying now–would it be “on disk”? “on tiny plastic device”?), but tomorrow, we’ll look at those I did capture, along with a few other things, and the trip home, which was an adventure in its own right.

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Categories: "To . . . and Back", Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Courthouses, Historic Preservation, Hospitals, Hotels, Jails, Lexington, National Register, Schools

2 replies

  1. I showed this to our volunteer with whom I work closely and who is from Lexington. [He likes the "article."]

    He recommended this book for anyone interested in “that every major Christian denomination has …”

    A House of David in the Land of Jesus / Robert Lewis Berman

    Like

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