Forty-four years after closing its doors, after suffering decades of neglect, vacancy, vandalism, and deterioration, Jackson’s landmark King Edward Hotel, the standard for glamorous 1920s hotels, re-opened for business yesterday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. As every speaker said, this was a great day for Jackson, not just for us lovers of history, but for a city that has struggled to find its footing in recent years as surrounding suburbs have gained in prestige and livability.
Thoughts on the day:
- As I walked down Capitol Street with friends, we saw other groups of people going in the same direction. As we got closer to the King Ed, the trickle became a stream, and past the Mayflower, the stream became a river of people. It was a wonderful feeling to be a part of a crowd on the sidewalk in downtown Jackson.
- As you know, I’m terrible with estimating numbers in crowds, but I would say maybe 450 people scrunched their way into the lobby, and surrounding the railing of the mezzanine, all facing east toward the grand staircase where David Watkins served as master of ceremonies. One thing that struck me was the almost perfect balance between blacks and whites in the crowd, a hopeful sign for the city and for Mississippi, showing civic and business cooperation to bring this incredibly complex and difficult project to completion. This was not a “white” project or a “black” project. It was an Us project.
- I loved the King Edward cake, but worried about its stability.
- The “real” cake that we ate (I don’t think they ever actually cut into the King Ed) was not too sweet, and I liked that.
- On second viewing, I didn’t think the lobby area looked quite as plastic as I thought it had on first viewing.
- On second viewing, the grand ballroom was still not as grand as I had hoped it might be, and I’m still not sure whether the ceiling panels that simulate the natural light are actual frosted glass or plastic.
- I like the wacky modern carpet, but some didn’t. Either way, we know that hotel carpet gets changed in only a few years, so if you hate it, just wait a while and it will go away.
- David Watkins in his remarks said, “Not many developers will thank Archives and History, but I will. I think they’re great and they helped this project every step of the way.” Or something to that effect.
Ok, enough talk, here are some pictures of the grand event, and you can see more on Flickr. Also check out the Clarion-Ledger coverage in “Upper House, Lower House, Edwards House” and “Historic King Edward Reopens.”