So what was the name of Robinson St. at the turn of the 20th century? It was once called Clinton Road.
So what was the name of Robinson St. at the turn of the 20th century? It was once called Clinton Road.
A few weeks ago, cars were lined up everywhere along W. Pearl Street, Dalton Street, and the Metro Parkway. The occasion was Class Day, or as we called it in middle school, graduation! Families and friends hurried in to watch their loved ones receive awards and certificates, many of them hoping that these accolades would translate into diplomas and scholarships four years from now. As the many people filed into the Blackburn auditorium to watch their students ceremoniously pass from eighth grade to ninth grade, many walked by a site that will be the future of Blackburn. Just as the students leave the school with a knowledge upgrade that was instilled over the past three years, Blackburn Middle School is receiving an upgrade of its own.
Construction on the new Blackburn Middle School began this past January. The new structure will be a 102,576 square foot modern wonder, will stand two stories tall, and will be located just west of its current location on West Pearl Street. The building will feature twenty-four regular classrooms, five science labs, two technology labs, and administrative offices to service the 400+ middle school students. There will also be a one story support building on the campus that will house boys and girls’ athletic facilities (including locker and shower rooms), cafeteria, library/media room, band room, choral room, strings room, art lab, and administrative offices. In other words, the main building will be for the purposes of exercising the left brain while the support building will be used for exercising the right brain and physical body.
All is not new in the updated Blackburn. Elements of the current school’s courtyard will be incorporated in the new school and a wall will be constructed of bricks salvaged from the old school as a tribute to the school’s history. This tribute wall will be located in the new school’s library and sounds like it will be a treat to see!
Other features on the new campus include a walking track, practice football field, and tennis courts—elements that currently exist, but will be brand new once construction is complete. There will also be new sidewalks constructed for the safety of the students who walk to school and with ample trees and landscaping to top this project off, the new Blackburn will undoubtedly be a pleasant learning environment for its students.
The total cost for the project is $16.4 million and is being funded through the citizen-voted 2006 school bond issue.
Project Start Date—January 2010
Estimated Completion Date—June 2011 (gathered from previous local newspaper reports)
Project Cost: $16.4 million
Project Size: 102,576 square feet
Design Professionals: M3A Architects
General Contractor: Johnson Construction
Special thanks to Jackson Public Schools for information included in this entry.
Photos of construction site:
So, what award-winning author spent a large portion of his childhood/adolescence living with his grandmother at 1107 Lynch St? Well, that author would be Richard Wright (1908-1960). Wright was born in Roxie, Mississipp–a town near Natchez. His parents moved Wright and his siblings to Memphis, Tennessee in 1914 and returned to Mississippi in 1916 after Wright’s father abandoned the family. Wright lived with his maternal grandparents in a two-story, frame house near the current intersection of John R. Lynch Street and Dalton Street. Wright describes his grandmother’s house in his autobiography:
“Granny’s home in Jackson was an enchanting place to explore. It was a two-story frame structure of seven rooms. My brother and I used to play hide and seek in the long, narrow hallways, and on and under the stairs. Granny’s son, Uncle Clark, had bought her this home, and its white plaster walls, its front and back porches, its round columns and banisters, made me feel surely that there was no finer house in the round world.”
During his time in Jackson, Richard Wright attended Jim Hill Primary School, Smith Robertson Junior High School, and Lanier High School. As a teenager, Wright had jobs in Jackson that included ticket taker at the Alamo Theater and bellhop at the Edwards Hotel.
Despite a troubled childhood, Richard Wright grew up to become an esteemed novelist–penning books including the acclaimed Native Son and autobiography, Black Boy. His struggles with the effects of racism in the South are evident in the harsh, blunt nature of Bigger Thomas–Native Son’s main character. These painful stories proved successful for Wright as Native Son sold 215,000 copies within three weeks of being published (1940) and Black Boy became the 4th best selling book of 1945, selling nearly 550,000 copies. Native Son spent 3 months as a Broadway stage play at the St. James Theatre in New York City.
Thanks for participating in today’s trivia! We’ll have more trivia for you next Thursday, but be sure to check back for blog updates.
The Richard Wright Encyclopedia by Jerry Washington Ward, Robert Butler
Richard Wright: The Life and Times by Hazel Rowley
Black Boy by Richard Wright
Westerday Trivia: This award-winning author spent a large portion of his childhood/adolescence living with his grandmother at 1107 Lynch St.
The answer will be posted here in 1 hour. Let me know what you think the answer is!
Last Thursday, we started a new trivia game on our Facebook page and Twitter account. We are calling the game Westerday Trivia and the rules are simple: we’ll provide a question about West Jackson’s history, and you can comment or mention us with the answer. The game will take place every Thursday morning and we’ll make sure to post the correct answer on our blog later that day. If you don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account, don’t worry. You can still participate as we will post the question on the blog too so that you can comment with the answer.
Westerday is a derivative of the word yesterday, and although we can’t guarantee that the word can be used during a game of Scrabble or Words with Friends, the word is definitely appropriate in context to our reference of West Jackson’s history.
Ok, so enough about the game. Take a look around West Jackson, and you may notice clusters of Historical Markers, Blues Trail Markers, and Civil Rights Driving Tour signs. It is without a doubt that West Jackson–one of Jackson’s earliest suburbs–is steeped in history. During a recent drive around the neighborhood, I decided to hop out into the heat and take a few pictures of the historical markers. Was it hot outside–OH YEAH! But it was well worth it to share pieces of West Jackson with you. Check out the pictures and make sure to read the wording on the markers. Who knows, you might have a pop quiz through our Westerday Trivia!
When you think of historic districts in Jackson, the neighborhoods that often come to mind are Belhaven and Farish Street. What about neighborhoods such as Poindexter Park? Your first reaction may be, “Oh! Isn’t that the park with the pavilion that’s on Capitol Street?” My response would be that you’re right. Poindexter Park is a public park located on West Capitol Street, but located behind that park is a neighborhood that bears the name of the park and a lot of history to boot.
The Poindexter Park historic district is roughly bounded by W. Pearl, Rose, Hunt, W. Capitol, and Clifton Streets and the neighborhood dates back to the turn of the 20th century. In the early years of the neighborhood, W. Pearl Street was named Sharkey Street and Robinson Street was named Clinton Road. Sharkey Street, currently West Pearl Street, probably derived its name from Reconstruction Governor and former Mississippi Chief Justice William Lewis Sharkey. Upon retirement from the bench, Judge Sharkey built his home in the Poindexter Park neighborhood in the 1850s. A few years later, Poindexter Elementary School, originally named West Jackson School, was constructed in the neighborhood in 1900.
Poindexter Park derives its namesake from Mississippi’s second governor, George Poindexter. Upon the estate of the former governor rests a quaint, yellow house. This house is the location of Poindexter Park Inn, a small bed & breakfast that has a soul for the blues. Poindexter Park Inn is the idea of Marsha Weaver, a former city councilwoman who serves as innkeeper for the establishment.
Poindexter Park Inn features 5 unique rooms: 3 which can accommodate 2 visitors and 2 that can accommodate 1 visitor. Upon entering the inn, you’ll notice a checker-painted floor and a stairwell that is lined with record albums. The first floor is where breakfast is served. Continental breakfast is included with the price of the room and bedandbreakfast.com indicates that the inn’s signature dish is hot muffins with edible flowers.
The rooms feature an assortment of antique furniture. I’m a gadget person, so the main things that caught my eye were the cool, antique bedside clocks and a neat old camera in one of the upstairs rooms. Speaking of upstairs, the inn is two stories. It features one bedroom downstairs and the remaining bedrooms upstairs. The inn also has a neat upstairs porch that would be great for clearing your mind or planning your day.
If you are interested in booking a stay at Poindexter Park Inn, call (601) 944-1392.
Miles, Diana G. From Frontier Capital to Modern City: A History of Jackson, Mississippi’s Built Environment, 1865-1950. Gainesville, Georgia: Jaeger Co., 2000.
Rowland, Dunbar. Mississippi, Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons. Atlanta: Southern Historical Publishing Association, 1907.
Photos of Poindexter Park Inn:
Ah, summertime! It sure came early this year in Jackson. School is out, the grass is green, and it’s time to work. At least that’s what brothers Ian Jackson, 15, and Rick Jackson, 18, plan to do this summer. Rick and Ian are hoping to earn some money this summer with Rick’s Lawn Service (601.949.7094) by enduring the Mississippi heat to freshly manicure your lawn while you kick back, relax, and enjoy the finished product. During the lawn care off season, Ian attends school at Blackburn Middle School while Rick attends Jim Hill High School.
The teenage brothers aren’t endeavoring alone. Johnathan Griffin is serving as a mentor to these young men as they venture into the world of entrpreneurship. Johnathan has an interesting story to tell. He grew up in West Jackson on Fourth Avenue. At age 11, he met a man named Dr. Bill Cooley who he considers a mentor to this day. At the time, Dr. Cooley was a professor at Jackson State University’s College of Business. Dr. Cooley also served as dean of the same college. Even greater, Dr. Cooley has purposefully located the headquarters for his company, Systems Consultants, at the corner of Broad Street and Roseneath Street to demonstrate his support and passion for West Jackson.
Ok, back to Johnathan. Johnathan spent his first two years of high school at Jim Hill and the remaining to at the highly competitive Mississippi School for Math and Science in Columbus, Mississippi. After high school, he attended Morehouse College where he enrolled into their 3/2 Civil Engineering Degree program. In this program, he spent 3 years in Atlanta at Morehouse College and 2 years in New York City at Columbia University. His final GPA: 3.85! These accomplishments alone put a grand smile on Dr. Cooley’s face. But we know that Johnathan has a lot more in store.
Johnathan is in Jackson for the summer and is working with local architectural firm Duvall Decker & Associates on their innovative housing development in Midtown. However, when fall approches, Johnathan will be hitting the road again. This time, he will be heading to Nashville where he has accepted a full academic scholarship to Vanderbilt University. High school diploma. Check. Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from outstanding schools. Check, Check. Next on the to do list: Master’s Degree in Civil Engineering & Construction Management from Vanderbuilt. Keep pressing forward Johnathan!
And that brings us back to Ian and Rick. These two brothers from Robinson Street have the potential to have a story just like Johnathan’s. Two young men from West Jackson who will excel in school and will grow up to help their community excel. How do you ensure successful entrepreneurs in West Jackson? Well, you’ve gotta start ‘em young.