Our dear friend and contributing editor Andrew Nelson paused his travels for a moment to send us another great postcard from the road (literally this time).
It seems totally incongruous, but travelers barreling down Mississippi's Interstate 20/59 will see a glorious art deco tower rising over the town of Meridian (pop. 40,000). The skyscraper, with its geometric lines and colorful terra cotta tile facade, is worthy of New York or Chicago. How did all this tower of Jazz Age power end up in a sleepy part of deep Dixie? The story's interesting:
The 16-story brick structure is named the Threefoot Building after the Threefoot family, local Jewish-German merchants originally named Dreyfuss - "three feet" in German. The building, planned during the Roaring 20s economic boom, was finished in 1929, shortly before stock market crash. Though the Great Depression savaged the family's business, the Threefoot has stayed the town's tallest building. Plans are now underway for a New Orleans developer to restore the structure as an upscale hotel.
Across the street, Mississippi State's Riley Center (2200 Fifth St.;
+1 601 696 2200)
has got a head start on Meridian's redevelopment. The just-restored complex, covering half a city block, includes the old Marks Rothenberg Department Store, refurbished as a new convention
and education center and the Grand Opera House, an ornate vaudeville
theater used as a performing arts venue. The history of the local Jewish merchant
families is so important to Meridian that there's talk of a museum
devoted to them. Mazel tov.
Photo: above: | Rebecca | via Flickr; below: Mississippi State University