Thursday, November 18, 2010

King Edward Hotel

I've been on the road this past week. My husband has decided to take the big plunge and go after a law degree. He has been working more and more in health care politics and development. He sees a entirely new venue to broaden his expertise in his field. In October he took the LSAT and scored very well and has been receiving scholarship offers from several schools out of state. We decided to take each opportunity into consideration by touring the school and programs. I enjoy a good road trip from time to time. This trip lead us through three southern states and y'all know how much I enjoy all that southern history.

While we were in Jackson, Mississippi I managed to slip away and walk through the historic downtown area. They have a lot of new construction and renovating going on down there. Mississippi truly knows what southern hospitality is all about. These were some of the nicest people I've met. Everyone treats you like an old friend or family. And the restaurants are full of fantastic cuisine. As I was enjoying lunch I asked a gent about the historic district. I found a lot of fascinating landmarks that I just couldn't wait to share with y'all.

You know how much I love historical homes and normally when I find time I try to post on one. I do not know why or where this passion came from. My home is full of old architectural and plantation books. I get giddy as I enter an old building, I run my hands across the walls, study the lines of the building, and inhale the old musky fragrance. I begin to fantasize of who might have walked the same halls and what the structure might have looked like during that era. Yes, I'm obsessed for historical homes and architecture. And I just found my next post.

This is the King Edward Hotel located in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. The original site was known as the Confederate House but was destroyed during the Civil War. Jackson sits on the Pearl River and during the Civil War the Union Army captured the city after they defeated the Confederacy in the Battle of Vicksburg. The troops were force to flee to Jackson but the Yankee's under General William Tecumseh Sherman's command tore through the city. They looted and burned most of the structures at that time. The Confederate House was one of them.

Battle of Vicksburg
Yankee General William Tecumseh Sherman

The Confederate House was reopened in 1867 as the Edwards House, after "Major" R.O. Edwards who built it. Then in 1923, the structure was redesigned by an architect, William Nolan, from New Orleans. It became a 12 story posh hotel where all of Jackson's high society and politics came to mingle during the rolling twenties and for the following forty years. I would have given anything to have been able to have seen this with my own eyes. Can you imagine the fantastic parties?

In 1955, a wealthy automobile dealer and investor, R.E. "Dumas" Milner, purchased the property. Again, the hotel was renovated to more of a modernist style. However, many of the original details were kept in the design (thank goodness). The local economy fell on hard times and the hotel was forced to close in 1967. Although the Edwards House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the site became inhabitable. The once magnificent hotel had become overwhelmed with the city's homeless and was completely run down. So sad when you think of how much history surrounded it.

What she looks like now & below is in her sad state

Numerous attempts to restore the southern gem to her beauty failed and the citizens began discussing a potential demolition of the building. However, the Jackson city leaders began successfully planning to revitalize the downtown area. And in December of 2006, Watkins Partners, former New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister and Historic Restoration Inc. of New Orleans worked together to restore the old hotel.

Today, I'm pleased to report that the King Edward hotel is open for business. She's a signature Hilton Garden Inn with 186 rooms, 64 luxury apartments, a fabulous restaurant and bar, coffee shop, retail shops, and a fitness center. The renovation cost nearly $90 million dollars and was completed in December of 2009. If y'all are ever traveling through Jackson, Mississippi stop by and take a look. The staff is very friendly and the hotel is an impressive piece of history.


Jo said...

Congratulation to your husband and best of luck on his new adventure. What a wonderful treat to see some of the stops you've made. I too have a fondness for old buildings and the history they hold.


Ruth said...

Good luck on the new adventures that await you both.
I love old hotels.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post!

Kisses and happy weekend.