How about a little history with lunch? The evolution of Home Dining Room on Farish Street

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Like most of Farish Street, the story of the Home Dining Room is deeply embedded in the early cultural experiences of the street known as the “Black Mecca of Mississippi.”  Home Dining Room was not originally located at the building above, a c. 1923 building.  The Home Dining Room was relocated to this building sometime after 1954–the last year that Jackson’s Farish Street businesses listed with the Victor Green “Green Book” travel guide for African American motorists.  Prior to then, it was located on the opposite corner, in a series of storefront buildings that were constructed c. 1900-1920.

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Home Dining Room was located at 400 N. Farish, and was listed in the Green Book from 1947-1954.  Mrs. Robinson owned the Home Dining Room, and in 1942, secured a contract to assist in feeding African American draftees stationed at Hawkins Field.  Edward Lee, owner of the Edward Lee Hotel on 144 W. Church Street, also had a contract with the US Army to provide housing and food–Lee’s restaurant was considered “one of the finest in the city of Jackson” (Sweet, G. B., & B. Bradley. 2013. Church Street: The Sugar Hill of Jackson, Mississippi. Charleston, S. C.: The History Press).

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The street level storefronts were part of a collection of businesses, and family residences and offices were housed on a second floor. A 1947 photograph of the Home Dining Room shows a storefront on the corner (at the right of the above building in the vacant area between this building and the Home Dining Room on the opposite corner).  By that time, the building was only one story.  Although the Jackson Free Press article indicates “the shell of this building is still on Farish Street,” the existing Home Dining Room Building at 322 is not the same building.  A comparison of the 1947 photograph (and other 1947 images in the Jackson State University Margaret Walker Center archival collection–scroll to the final 2 photographs in the collection) indicates it is part of the above existing store fronts, and the architecture and arched windows on the 1947 storefront match those visible on North wall of the building above.   At some point after 1954, the Home Dining Room was relocated to the location on the Southeast corner of Farish and Hamilton.  According to Sweet & Bradley (2013), Mrs. Robinson’s restaurant was conservative, and patronized by the churchgoing crowd and gospel quartets.

The 1979 nomination form for the Farish Street Historic District listed the 332 location as the Home Dining Room, a

1-story brick commercial building with canted corner entrance and hinged brick corners.  Corbelled cornice.

By the time of the nomination, the block across Hamilton was listed as 410-418 N. Farish, however, I have been unsuccessful in locating any information regarding the demise of the number 400 storefront that formed the southern corner of the series, and housed the Home Dining Room.



Categories: African American History, Historic Preservation, Jackson

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2 replies

  1. Great post! Every time I read anything about Farish Street, I want to cry. It is ridiculous that this area can’t be revived. Clarksdale, MS, is a great example of saving special places, but it has been done a little at a time and not through nasty court battles. I wish someone could bring in the peace pipe, get the court battles over and get going on bringing Farish Street to life. It is complicated and complex, but surely there is some resolution???

    Like

  2. These edifices are emblematic of Mississippi history and must be preserved.

    Like

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