Still Excitingly Beautiful After All These Years

Back in December, Thomas Rosell highlighted in the News Roundup an article about the proposal to locate the new Children’s Museum in Meridian at the former Sears site on 22nd Avenue between I-20 and downtown Meridian:

In Meridian there is a story that an extension of the Mississippi Children’s Museum “will be located on the site where an old Sears department store was at 403 22nd Ave. in Meridian.” The Jackson Free Press article does not elaborate on whether or not the historic Mid-Century Modern Sears will be demolished, remodeled, or restored. You can learn more about this former Sears from this 2010 MissPres post:

Sending us to the original Jackson Free Press article, Thomas left this link, and until I clicked over to the actual article, I thought that the “MCM Meridian” in the title meant “Mid-Century Modern,” which would be a hopeful sign given the Sears building’s construction date of 1966 and its cool details like the concrete brise soleil and aqua blue storefront; but no in this context, it apparently stands for Mississippi Children’s Museum. *sigh*

Fast forward a few weeks, and I was doing some newspaper research, very innocent and innocuous and on a totally different topic, in the 1966 Newton Record of all places (!) and what should appear but this full-page ad for the brand-spanking-new Sears, the “completely NEW . . . . decidedly DIFFERENT, excitingly BEAUTIFUL Sears.”

Newton Record, February 23, 1966

I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks the old Sears is still excitingly beautiful, and I hope the folks at the MCM see its beauty too and will preserve the building’s exterior detailing while transforming the wide open spaces inside into a fun children’s museum. High-quality Modernist commercial buildings are as architecturally significant as the Victorian-era commercial buildings that our preservation grandparents were trying to save back in the 1950s and 1960s, and in this case, it’s also solid construction with an interior designed for ultimate flexibility.

Meridian was booming and confident in the 1950s and 1960s, as evidenced by this huge suburban Sears in a prime location for auto traffic. Meridian, you have such an amazing collection of Modernist buildings. I hope you’ll save this one along with the old Meridian Police Station.

More about Meridian preservation . . .

Categories: Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Meridian


3 replies

  1. Wonderful post about a gladdening mid-cen edifice that richly deserves to be preserved and re-used. Sure hope it happens. Thanks for another excellent article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also hope Meridian will see the beauty and value of these buildings (and others) and work to repurpose them. I have such fond memories of shopping in many Sears stores in many cities and states. Each store was so inviting and at the time I never thought about the different architecural styles. A bag of popcorn was always part of the trip to Sears, but I digress.


  3. I got the newsletter from the children’s museum today, and the architect’s rendering of the new museum doesn’t resemble this in the least. I hate to see this building destroyed.


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