Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Place Called Mendenhall

My husband has been blessed with an unbelievably fantastic recovery from his hip replacement surgery which was performed two weeks ago today, and I appreciate all the prayers and well wishes sent on his behalf.

He had to go to Mendenhall, Mississippi, yesterday on business, and I went along for the ride. Mendenhall is located off of US Highway 49, in Simpson County, about 25 miles south of Jackson, and an hour and a half drive from Vicksburg. I had never really explored Mendenhall, so I took my cameras and while he was in his meeting, I "toured" the town.

I love the welcome signs that line Main Street ...

Although Mendenhall is the county seat of Simpson County, it is a small town, with a population of approximately 2,500 people, according to the 2009 census. Its business and historic districts center around Main Street, and the most prominent historical landmark in Mendenhall — the magnificent Simpson County Courthouse.

Built in 1907, the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was restored in 1987. The Courthouse was designed after the United States Capital by architect Andrew J. Byron, and has been designated one of the four most beautiful courthouses in the state of Mississippi.

The brisk wind unfurled the flags for me, and I could hear them snapping in the wind as I captured these pictures.

I love the acorn on top of the courthouse cupola, and upon researching its significance, I found that in the late 18th century, acorns were popular architectural decorations symbolizing the strength and potential of an oak tree. [I also uncovered some interesting stories about acorns which I may pursue for a future post.]

A less prominent landmark in Mendenhall is what is left of the old movie theater called the Star Theatre ...

Located on Main Street, the building boasted a one-screen auditorium, complete with balcony. It also featured a pool hall and three offices upstairs, one of which housed the city's Chamber of Commerce.

The Star Theatre opened for business on November 9th, 1938, with the western, Born to the West, starring none other than John Wayne.

The price of admission was 11 cents and a box of popcorn was a dime. During the late 1960s, the theater had problems with vandalism and closed, but in 1979, a newly remodeled Star Theater reopened and once more enjoyed great popularity. Unfortunately, competition from video arcades and cable TV forced its owner to close it some three years later.

In 2000, the Star was repainted once more to be used as a location for the movie My Dog Skip. Heavy rains caused the roof to collapse in April of 2008, and, sadly, it is no longer in usable condition.

Down the street from the theater is this flower shop, whose clever name caught my attention ...

And speaking of shops — I hope you will join me for my next post when I take you inside this charming shop, which is located in an old grocery and grain store.

The shop is graced with the original wood floors and several of the old wooden bins and cabinets remain, taking you back in time to the heydays of the grain store as it was in 1928. You won't want to miss this one!


Diane@A Picture is Worth.... said...

Haven't been here yet-enjoyed the tour!

Glad to know your husband is doing so well!

MeenyMoe said...

What a wonderful little town. Reminded me so much of the little town in Indiana I grew up in. We had neighbors there that raised chickens for eggs. Their last name was Mendenhall! How ironic! I have a great fondness for acorns! I can't wait to see your feature on them!


racheld said...

I was just about to give you a "don't miss next time" on the Round Table, only to find that it closed in 2001, after EIGHTY SIX years.

We used to have relatives in Columbia, and they discovered it; we'd go there every visit; I wrote a bit about it in the CAFFAYS post way back when I started my blog.

I miss it now, after all these years, but with a sharper pang for the lost wonderfulness of it; I at least could cling to the thoughts that folks were gathering at those bountiful tables every day for their noon dinners, gently spinning the Susans, taking a bit of this and a bit of that, from that incomparable Southern fare.

The Chowhound "obituary" says that it appears through the windows as if the people just walked out one day and left it intact. I remember a big white house, it seems, and one certainly worthy of your lens. If you can find it next time:

Mendenhall Hotel Revolving Tables
100 Gerald Morgan Memorial Street
Mendenhall, MS

Carolyn said...

I loved the cupola against that blue, blue sky.
So glad your husband is recovering so quickly!

Jenni said...

What an interesting town! I wonder at all of the stories encapsulated within the borders of it's streets...

I loved all of the pictures, so glad you took the time to stop and capture them.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, Janie. We had a Star Theatre in my old hometown. Sadly it is closed. There were actually two theatres in our town, plus a drive-in that opened from Spring to late Fall, even though it was a small town. The other indoor theatre was Lyric.

Happy Saturday afternoon memories of both the Star and Lyric.

The courthouse is beautiful!
Enjoyed all the photos!

Lori said...

Enjoyed seeing this little town. Glad you gave the name of the architect. The little town of Gaylord in Minnesota has a beautiful courthouse, very much the same, but the architect is different. Certainly probably a style that was popular throughout the country.

Merisi said...

So good to hear that your husband is already up and about after his successful hip surgery!
Thank you for taking us along to visit the beautiful town of Mendenhall! What irony that the Star Theater lived through a short revival as a movie location and how sad it's roof has not been repaired. I hope somebody will see the historic significance and also the beauty of the place before it is too late.
Best wishes,

Elizabeth said...

Wonderful tour, thank you! Can't wait until you post about the inside of that cute shop.

I have recently been doing a lot of family history research for Bolivar County. Any chance you might ever visit there?

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Janie, I have been to Mendenhall years ago and ate at the Round Table. It was SO good. I was young when we were through there, so I don't remember the courthouse. It really is pretty.

I have missed you so much, and I look forward to getting back to blogging eventually. Life has just been calling my name as I see it has with you. So glad to read your husband is doing well. That's not a fun surgery (I've had friends and relatives who have had it), and I'm so glad he is making a good recovery.

Sending you all my best wishes for a very Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Love you...


Sheila :-)

Thomas Scott said...

Mendenhall was the "Mayberry" of Mississippi and still is in many ways. My father and uncle grew up in Mendenhall through the 1920's and 1930's and had many fond memories. Their mother was one of nine children of the Dr. Thomas Mendenhall Walker family. One of my favorite stories, told to me by family members was about Tamper Hicks. Tamper was Mendenhall's Otis Campbell of Mayberry. Although Tamper probably never spent a night in jail, he did share a few of Otis's character traits and bad habits.
In order to supplement his income and "habit" he would often approach traveling salesmen, usually out of Jackson, and anyone that just happened to be from out of town and appeared to be a "potential customer". Tamper would always carry a shoe box tied shut with string. He would approach his potential customer and ask them if they would like to buy "a little brew". Being that alcohol was hard to come by during the prohibition years, Tamper was often quickly received with a yes answer. Tamper would respond by saying, "If you have $5 I will go get you a bottle and be right back. Here, hold my shoes til I get back". Tamper would disappear around the corner. After waiting a while the customer would finally begin to think they had been taken for their money. They would eventually open the box and to their delight...find their booze. Tamper would often drop by my grandfather's little shop located in the alley behind the house. He always carried a pair of pliers and a screwdriver in his back pocket. He could fix anything electrical when he was off the juice.
Thomas Scott