Look Around Mississippi: Buildings-Downtown Jackson - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 02/08/08

Look Around Mississippi: Buildings-Downtown Jackson

It was the state's very first sky scraper. The Lamar Life Insurance Company's new headquarters building on Capitol Street was constructed in the 1920s directly across from the Governor's Mansion. The ornate building once had sculpted alligators decorating the entrance. Over the decades they've been removed, but the grotesques and gargoyles way up there either peering down on Capitol Street below or constantly checking the time from the tower clock above are still there.

The other big insurance company in Jackson back in first half of the 20th Century left us their calling card in the sky, too. The taller, art deco Standard Life building marks the west end of downtown. And what's in between the two old insurance buildings was once the retail hub of Mississippi. But downtown revitalization and the taming of town creek that runs under downtown, and in the old days, periodically ran through the stores above it, required removing most of what was the retail stores on mid Capitol Street many years ago. There still one block of them left. Across the street from the old King Edward Hotel.

And now that there are plans for renewing the King Edward, maybe the old buildings across the street can be salvaged as they are, and revitalized, too. It'd be sad to lose them. But we're already losing parts of some of them. Little buildings built with a panache of style and decoration that wasn't necessary for the soundness of the structure, but was for the soundness of keeping up the flare of Capitol Street.

The skyline is changing of downtown, with the new Telcom Center and the convention center coming soon.

Add that to the other old interesting pieces of architecture and historic places and just the business of Mississippi's biggest downtown and the heart of the heart of the state is still pumping and healthy.

Some of the old commercial buildings are being converted to condos, now. So there is a new element we've not had in decades past, downtown residents.

To me, it's one of the prettiest downtowns anywhere, the mix of the old with the very old and the spanking brand new. Plus people. Plus that which is yet to come and we've got reason to be pleased with the downtown of our Capitol City.

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