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M AY CONTENTS 2020 • VOLUME 17 • NO. 5

features

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All Squared Up Southaven’s Silo Square

French Masters Come to Mississippi Museum of Art

Exploring Mobile’s Diverse Architectural History

departments 14 Living Well Going the Extra Smile

38 On the Road Again Bowling Green, Kentucky

18 Notables Michael & Andrea Gibson

40 Greater Goods 60 Homegrown Scooples Jewelry

22 Exploring Art Painting the Town 26 Exploring Books Love Wears an Apron

64 Southern Gentleman Curing “Barbecue-itis” 68 Southern Harmony The Weeks

28 Southern Roots The Power of Architecture

72 In Good Spirits Down to Earth

30 Table Talk Uncle Bubba’s in Hernando 34 Exploring Destinations Cape Charles, Virginia

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74 Reflections Mother’s Day Memories

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editor’s note | MAY

Learning to Lean on Someone What a spring it’s been with the COVID-19 pandemic, destructive tornados throughout the Mid-South, business closures, and cancelled events. The challenges seemed insurmountable some days. The song, “Lean on Me,” by the late Bill Withers gave inspiration to millions. I can’t think of any other song that has meant more to me recently, because I’ve had to do my share of leaning on people. A serious health issue caused me to lean on my husband a lot in recent months. Lately, I’ve leaned on Cheré Coen, who became DeSoto Magazine’s assistant editor last December. On particularly hard days, I had to call Cheré for help. And no sooner than I recovered, Cheré lost her mother… and it was her turn to lean on me. At that point, we both realized how much we needed each other and became co-editors. It’s comforting to know there is somebody to lean on when we’re not strong, as Withers soulfully sang. This month, we’re featuring art and architecture around the South. Luckily, no leaning structures that we know of but lots of historical buildings have been saved – particularly in Mobile, where Idara Hampton explains the significance of some beautiful structures. Closer to home, Silo Square in Southaven is nearing completion as Karon Warren writes in her story about this new mixed-use development.

MAY 2020 • Vol. 17 No.5

PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Melanie Dupree MANAGING EDITOR Mary Ann DeSantis ASSISTANT EDITOR Cheré Coen

During troubled times, art offers solace to many. If you want to escape the mundane, head to the Mississippi Museum of Art for an inspiring look at paintings by the French and Dutch Masters. Jackson writer Michele Baker got a sneak peek at the world-class exhibition, “Van Gogh, Monet, Degas and Their Times” and tells readers about the importance of these masterpieces. This issue offers many uplifting stories that will bring you some joy after the dark days of spring. And as we strive to regain normalcy to our lives, we hope you’ll find someone to lean on whenever the going gets tough. Here’s to better days ahead!

CONTRIBUTORS Michele Baker Jim Beaugez Cheré Coen Amy Conry Davis Jackie Sheckler Finch Jason Frye Idara Hampton Kurt Jacobson Pamela Keene Tracy Morin Patti Nickell Karen Ott Mayer P. Allen Smith Mira Temkin Karon Warren Pam Windsor PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Paula@DeSotoMag.com SUBSCRIBE: DeSotoMagazine.com/subscribe

on the cover The Conde-Charlotte Home & Museum in Mobile, Ala., was built in 1822 and survived the Union siege during the Civil War. Photo by Chad Riley.

DeSotoMagazine.com ©2020 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein t o b e re p ro d u c e d i n a n y m a n n e r. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties interested in advertising should email paula@desotomag.com or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at desotomagazine.com.

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living well | DR. PRADEEP ADATROW

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Going the Extra Smile By Tracy Morin | Photography courtesy of Advanced Dental Implant and TMJ Center

Dr. Pradeep Adatrow brings a wealth of knowledge, qualifications, and comfort to his patients who suffer from jaw disorders. With years of rigorous training and rave reviews from patients at Advanced Dental Implant & TMJ Center in Southaven, Miss., Dr. Pradeep Adatrow stands out as an elite practitioner not only in the Mid-South, but worldwide. Adatrow made his way to Memphis 14 years ago, teaching full-time at the University of Tennessee after falling in love with education during his specialty training. He undertook years of additional schooling himself, receiving his doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry, then completing two three-year postdoctoral programs in periodontics and implant dentistry at Indiana University, and advanced prosthodontics at the University of Tennessee. Thanks to this dual training, Adatrow is the only practicing board-certified periodontist and prosthodontist in the southern United States. He has also been inducted as a Fellow of the prestigious International College of Dentistry, an honor currently bestowed on only 10,000 professionals worldwide.

Luckily, Adatrow and his family ended up feeling right at home in the Memphis area. “My time in the Mid-South as a student and faculty member allowed me to cultivate relationships with a lot of local dentists and medical professionals in DeSoto County who expressed a need for a specialist with my dual skill set in the tri-state area,” Adatrow recalls. “Their encouragement and friendship made the decision to settle my family in the MidSouth and grow a practice here an easy one — both my wife, Jaya, and I fell in love with the weather and hospitality of the people.” When he’s not spending time with his wife, son, and daughter, Adatrow is often hard at work easing patients’ pain stemming from conditions such as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). The disorder affects the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which is composed of bones in the skull near the ears and lower jawbone as well as surrounding ligaments and muscles. DeSoto 17


“These joints allow us to speak, chew, and open and close the mouth,” he says. “When they don’t work properly, you may begin to experience a variety of symptoms, which may occur in only one joint or both, and vary from person to person.” Some patients experience no pain at all, while others may have difficulty completing even basic daily tasks. Symptoms can include, among others, a dull ache in and around the jaw, limited jaw movement, locking of the jaw, or difficulty chewing. But the effects can also spread, causing aches or ringing in the ears, headaches, or even neck or shoulder pain. And TMD can stem from numerous causes, from misaligned teeth and hormonal disorders to physical trauma, teeth grinding, or even sleeping on the stomach or sides. TMD may accompany other conditions, as well, including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or sleep disorders. To diagnose the problem, a dentist can observe the jaw in movement to examine its range of motion, and order a panoramic X-ray of the mouth and jaw. Fortunately, mild cases may benefit from at-home care, such as ice packs, antiinflammatory medications, and massages or gentle stretches in the jaw area. “Moderate to severe cases of TMD can be treated by a dentist with techniques such as custom-made dental splints, Botox injections, physical therapy, and prescription medication,” Adatrow adds. “Treatment will vary from person to person, depending on the severity of the disorder and the suspected cause.” Treatment for TMD is generally reversible and conservative — Adatrow advises against extreme, invasive measures like surgery. But, because TMD is a chronic condition that will most likely not go away on its own, Adatrow recommends asking your dentist or hygienist about it during your next routine appointment if you suspect you may have TMD. 18 DeSoto

Though many people express distaste for visiting the dentist, Adatrow credits his “awesome” staff for putting patients at immediate ease. “They go the extra mile daily to provide the ultimate positive dental experience, and I’m so proud to say that our patients are more informed and confident in their treatment options due to my professional and dedicated team,” Adatrow says. “In addition, the friendly, familiar style and office environment they cultivate each day welcomes patients back to each appointment with a smile.” Adatrow, too, is accustomed to promoting team spirit — especially in his philanthropic efforts around the globe. He and his family donate time to an orphanage they founded in South India, while locally, Adatrow works with Tennessee Smiles and Mid-South Mission of Mercy, which provides free dental services in the area. Every year, he hosts an annual symposium to benefit the Palmer Home for Children and DeSoto County Dream Center, and regularly volunteers through Memphis’ Church Health center. It’s all in a day’s work for this multi-talented dental specialist, but Adatrow looks ahead to an even brighter future. “Seeing my practice grow with happy team members and smiling patients in only three years is thrilling,” Adatrow concludes. “We constantly hear from patients that we were able to turn their past negative experiences with dentistry, be it from fear or trauma, into positive ones. That’s one of the most humbling aspects of the job.” advanceddentaltmj.com Based in Oxford, Miss., Tracy Morin is an award-winning freelance writer and editor with a passion for covering food, beverage, beauty, and boxing.


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notables | RAW FURNITURE CO

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From Raw Wood to Distinctive Creations By Pamela A. Keene | Photography courtesy of Raw Furniture Co.

Building a new house and learning new skills via YouTube inspired a Tupelo family to start the Raw Furniture Co. Five years ago, Michael Gibson decided to build a house for his wife, Andrea, and himself. Today, he has turned his love of building and his creativity into Raw Furniture Co., a thriving business in downtown Tupelo. “When we purchased the land for our house in 2014, we decided to build a pole barn the next year that we could live in, but I didn’t even have a hammer,” Gibson says with a smile. “I learned about building by watching YouTube videos. It was something we wanted to do, so that’s what we did, and that house meant a lot to us.”

Through the process, Gibson brought in various subcontractors and worked with them side-by-side, learning as he went. After he discovered his passion for building, the former Tupelo Parks and Recreation supervisor got restless. To satisfy his need to work with wood, he built things they needed around the barn, including furniture and a porch swing. “Once I learned about building, I realized that making a farm table wasn’t any more difficult than building a pole barn,” he says. DeSoto 21


By the fall of 2015, he and Andrea, who was working full-time as a sales associate and buyer at a local bridal store, made the leap. “It took a lot of praying before we opened the store,” says Andrea. “We both felt that God was leading us to do this.” They started out with a small workshop behind their house, with Michael setting up his custom-built furniture at markets in the area. They promoted his work through social media. By 2017, they opened a retail location for their new business venture that has become Raw Furniture Co. The couple’s business uses the best talents of each of them. “Andrea is so good with business, and I’m the creative one. She keeps me grounded,” Michael says. “Starting our own business has also given both of us much more time with our daughter Waverly, who’s now three.” Raw Furniture Co. sells custom-made, hand-crafted furniture, as well as home goods and interior décor. Andrea’s hand-poured soy candles and her sister-in-law Megan Herndon’s hand lettering are popular items. Made in Mississippi objects include Etta B Pottery, Randy Lucius handmade knives, jewelry by Mary Garrett, and leather goods by Oak River Company. “We really enjoy being able to sell products made by people who live in the South,” Andreas says. “It’s so much fun to meet these talented artisans and help support their work.” 22 DeSoto

Michael gets his inspiration from many places – people who request a certain type of furniture based on a family piece, a photo from a magazine or on Pinterest, or a design brought in by a customer. “We name the first piece of a design for the person or family who asked us to build it,” Andrea says. “It honors the person and gives us another good story to tell.” Michael agrees. “You never know what the next story will be that walks in through the door. Every day has another story, and we’re just fortunate to be able to share them.” One of his favorite builds is the Waverly Crib, requested by Andrea in time for the birth of their daughter three years ago. He also built a toy chest, named the Duncan Toy Box because the recipient’s name was Duncan. Like the toy box in “Home Alone II,” it was built as a Christmas gift. The original was constructed of pine. Every piece is distinctive, even if Michael follows a design from a previously built piece. He might create a table from knotty pine formerly used as paneling or a bench made from repurposed barn wood. The store recently featured a 1960s Chevy truck bed that Michael transformed into a swing, and a table made from tongue-and-groove wood paneling from an old home. “The character of the wood shows through to give each object its own personality,” he says. “I really enjoy the


imperfections and grain that shows through as a piece comes together.” Late last year, the Gibsons sold their pole-barn “barn-dominium” and moved into another house closer to the store. The new house has a 3,000-square-foot workshop for Michael located in back. “We loved that first house but with our family growing and Raw Furniture doing well, we needed to have more room and be closer to the store,” Michael says. “We certainly have been blessed.” rawfurnitureco.com

Pamela A. Keene is a travel journalist and photographer based in Atlanta who writes about the Southeast. She enjoys meeting new people and sharing stories about their lives.

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exploring art | CHARLIE BUCKLEY

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Painting the Town By Pam Windsor | Photography courtesy of Charlie Buckley

A dream of becoming an architect eventually led Tupelo’s Charlie Buckley into the world of cityscape art. Tupelo artist Charlie Buckley has a talent for capturing the South on canvas, from its tree-lined forests to flowers and clouds to the houses and structures so unique to this part of the country. He finds inspiration from the sights, sounds, and images all around him. “I consider myself a landscape painter,” he explains. “So, when I’m out in the world, I’m drawn to certain things I see. I take my camera with me most of the time and if I see something, I’ll take a picture or just get an idea. It might be a wind-spattered tree line or maybe a piece of architecture.”

He takes those images and ideas and turns them into masterful works of art. Buckley combines his talent for painting with a love and understanding of the South, and a dream he had years ago of becoming an architect, to create several styles all his own. He paints floodscapes, cityscapes, and something called stacks, which involve stacking multiple houses on top of other houses. Each painting style has its own approach and its own story. “The flood paintings started by me just driving through the Mississippi Delta and seeing this water everywhere DeSoto 25


and thinking this was terrible,” he recalls, “but, it was also really beautiful.” He began taking individual landscape scenes and showing what those scenes might look after a flood. “For example, I’ll take a tree line and I’ll flood it,” he says. “I’ll make it look like there was a flood and I’ll put stars in the sky. I’ve done it with cityscapes, too. I was recently commissioned to do a painting for a hotel where they wanted a construction site that looked like it was flooded. It turned out to be really interesting.” Buckley’s eye for art and his love of drawing and painting began as a young child. “It probably started in the second or third grade. I didn’t know I necessarily wanted to be an artist, but I was always drawing and painting and making stuff. I began taking art classes in elementary school and it continued from there.” He went on to study art in high school and college and later taught painting and drawing at several places, including Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Then, about nine years ago, he decided to work on his art on a full-time basis and has been doing it ever since. He has his own studio in Tupelo, and his artwork is available at Fischer Galleries in Jackson and Southside Art Gallery in Oxford. He’s received a number of awards and most recently was named a 2019 Mississippi Arts Commission Artist Fellowship Recipient. His floodscapes, cityscapes, and more recently, his stacks paintings have become very popular. “I started stacking architecture on top of each other right after we had a tornado come through town in Tupelo,” 26 DeSoto

he says. “I saw houses that were turned upside down and I started thinking of architecture as modular. It was just a kernel of an idea at the time and now it doesn’t have anything with tornadoes at all. It’s just a form I found that I can push in all of these different directions.” Buckley takes a build-as-you-go approach with every painting. “I design all of these on the computer before I paint them,” he explains. “I’ll take a house I’m really drawn to, like an ornate Victorian or something like that and I’ll start building around it with different houses. And by the end of it, that original house might be gone, but I’m looking for the structure that works well compositionally.” Initially, he used only three houses in a stack painting, but now often combines up to 30 houses for each one. He says it’s evolved in ways he never imagined. “Just through the process of making art, I’ve been able to push it in an entirely new direction that I didn’t expect to happen. You start with the idea and just sort of let it guide you.” He’s discovered much of the appeal for those who appreciate his artwork has been a familiar or emotional tie to the land. “I think there’s a connection to local architecture,” he says. “I’m a believer in the idea that architecture is tied to the geography and climate of a place. When people see it, they can relate to it through their childhood or perhaps what they see on their neighborhood walks.


“If I were to take my paintings to another region of the country, they wouldn’t translate well because I’m using the architecture of this area.” His artwork has evolved from a passion for the land and the ability to showcase and share it with others. It’s become more rewarding than he ever imagined. “I started doing the stacks specifically just for fun, and I’ve realized when I do something like that, people respond to it,” Buckley says. “It’s taken on this whole life of its own. It’s been exciting to watch an interest build in a project I started just as a side thing, and now they’ve sort of turned into a pretty significant part of my studio practice.” buckleystudio.com

Pam Windsor is a Nashville-based journalist who writes about travel, music, arts and culture, and extraordinary people.

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exploring books | LOVE WEARS AN APRON

Moms Know Best By Amy Conry Davis Photography courtesy of Gateway Rasmussen--The Cookbook Printer

A group of West Point moms culled parental advice with recipes to produce a cookbook that goes beyond preparing meals. Mothers all over the world can attest to the patience and determination required to raise children. And while parenting styles may vary, housework, homework and hungry mouths are constant. Thankfully, the hard job of motherhood can be made easier with a little help, especially when it arrives as advice from other moms. Support from those who have done it before, or are in the thick of parenting, can mean a world of difference. Meals get made and mountains get moved when moms come together. One such group of “school moms” in West Point, Miss., decided to do just that. Thirteen friends from the same Mennonite church joined forces to compile their firsthand 28 DeSoto

knowledge into a printed guide. They took their family success stories and made a reference manual, not just for others but for themselves as well. The result was “Love Wears an Apron: Menus, Tips, & Inspiration.” It all started with a WhatsApp thread. The women had been sharing child-rearing tips and favorite recipes in a group chat called “What’s For Dinner?” After nearly five years of messages, it became too difficult to refer back and find specific conversations. They wanted a more organized way to access the information so a few began labeling and saving the tips and recipes into manageable files. Not long after, the notion of a cookbook entered the


discussion. Valerie Koehn, a busy mother of four boys who enjoys creative pursuits like sewing, writing, and working in the garden, took the lead to spearhead the project. “At some point or another, I started getting enthused about a cookbook,” says Koehn. “We knew we wanted more than a usual cookbook. We wanted one that included the tips we were coming up with and focused more on school-aged children [and] what children like and what moms say.” With the help of three others, Koehn began work on the process in the fall of 2018, scouring cookbooks to find a publisher. It took a few tries to find the right company that would work with the customization the group wanted. Eventually, they settled with Gateway Rasmussen of Canada. With the Christmas holidays around the corner, they were eager to have the book ready by December. They worked feverishly, while still running their households, to finalize the design, layout, editing, and publishing. “They were extremely intense months,” says Koehn. “The first round was relatively easy and we thought, ‘Oh wow, all we have left is the editing.’ Well, the editing we were not prepared for. It was a huge job.” Two months later, “Love Wears an Apron” hit the shelves, the collective wisdom of those 13 women transformed into 300-odd spiral-bound pages. The title, which had won the vote out of numerous suggestions, seemed to say perfectly what they wanted to portray. “Love shows itself to our families as we give ourselves to the life of a mother, which includes an awful lot of cooking,” Koehn says. “The apron makes one think of kitchens and cooking and such.” What started as casual conversation between friends was now a valuable resource for future generations or a gift to others who might benefit. Complete with colorful, retro illustrations, the chapters include recipes on everything from Chicken & Grits (LaVonne Wedel) 4 cups water 2 tablespoons butter 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup white grits 1/2-cup shredded cheese 4 strips bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces 1/2-cup chicken broth 2 tablespoon cream 2 teaspoon lemon juice Dash Worcestershire sauce 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper Pinch cayenne pepper 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 tablespoon chopped green pepper 2 tablespoon chopped green onions 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno 1 tablespoon parsley

marinades to pies to Sunday roast. There’s also seasonal menus and meal plans for those who want to dine on a diet. How-to pages for teaching children manners, doing chores, organizing school papers, and having family game nights, as well as a section dedicated to homemade soaps and detergents and triedand-true secrets for dealing with chigger bites, poison ivy, and eczema round out the book. The book is primarily sold online through Gospel Publishers where it retails for $24.99, Nightingale’s Pantry & General Store in West Point, and the Busy Bee Nursery & Gift Shoppe in Macon. A large portion of its sales comes through Mennonite Church libraries across the United States and Canada. All of the proceeds are allocated to a fund to help children and families in their congregations with social or medical needs. To date, “Love Wears an Apron” has sold nearly 1,500 copies. Many of the book’s authors have since moved out of state, and their children have grown older, but the group stays in touch. And though the chat carries on, according to Koehn there are no immediate plans for another cookbook. “No, not at the moment,” she says. “I think I’m still getting over the last one. It was major, let me tell you. But we are still collecting things.” gospelpublishers.com/usa

Currently based in West Point, Miss., Amy Conry Davis works as a writer, photographer, and content creator. She lives full-time in an Airstream and travels throughout the U.S. Her website is www.gypsypye.com.

For the grits, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil. Whisk in grits, stirring occasionally, cooking until smooth and creamy, about 20 minutes. Stir in cheese. Fry bacon and remove from the skillet. Leave 1 tablespoon grease and set bacon aside. For the chicken, mix together chicken broth, cream, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and set aside. Cut 3 large boneless skinless breasts into 1-inch cubes. Put in bowl. Add the Cajun seasoning, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to the chicken. Stir chicken with spices to coat evenly. Heat the reserved bacon grease in skillet until you see the first wisp of smoke. Quickly add chicken mixture and spread into an even layer. Turn heat down to mediumhigh and coat, stirring for 5 minutes. Add garlic, green pepper, green onions, and jalapeno. Cook and stir for 5 more minutes. Add liquid mixture and fried bacon. Cook and stir until chicken is done. Turn off heat. Stir in parsley. Spoon cheesy grits into a bowl and top with chicken. Serves 8.

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southern roots | CREATING HARMONY

The Power ofArchitecture Story and photography by P. Allen Smith

Good design is a marriage of beauty and function while simplicity and scale create harmony. My first recollection of recognizing the power of architecture (and the built environment) was when I was 13. My mother and grandmother took my siblings and me on a tour of the South one summer. The purpose of our trip was to see family and friends, but it also served as a galvanizing moment at an impressionable age. For me, it marked the beginning of an interest and awareness that has only grown over time. On that trip, I came face-to-face with examples of the beauty of architecture and its place in the landscape. As we wiggled through the South during that hot 30 DeSoto

summer in our wood-grained station wagon, seeing New Orleans, Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, and Natchez, I felt a growing awareness in myself. My grandmother was a history buff, and both my mom and my grandmother were “house proud.” While constrained to thin budgets, they were constantly decorating and redecorating, frugal yet always stylish. The importance of house and home is deeply anchored in all of us. The environments we spend our daily lives in affects our moods, well-being, and sense of self. My personal space is just that: personal – as it should be for each of


us – and authentic in how they express who we are. I enjoy both the aesthetic and practical aspects of design. Good design is a marriage of both of these principles – beauty and function. Simplicity and scale, too, are both important components when creating harmony. Sadly, these aspects are largely overlooked today. Moss Mountain Farm has served as a palette on which I can “paint” and experiment. Its premise is simple: authenticity to place and time. The farm itself was established in the late 1830s, a time when Greek Revival architecture captured the minds and passions of Americans. While the house and gardens appear from that period, they are in fact new, now just 12 years old. My approach has been for the house and buildings to add visual interest to the landscape and the landscape support and enhance the architecture – one bolstering the other. From each porch, doorway, or window in the house, the view – both immediate and beyond – was considered. Just as a painter considers and develops the foreground, middle ground, and distance in a painting, so too must the landscape gardener. Elements of architecture punctuate the landscape and help to orient the visitor as they move through one garden “room” into the next. Design techniques such as subtle curves, hedges, and shadow are meant to pull the visitor deeper into the landscape with rewards of surprise and delight along the way. The octagons are visual anchors, adding to the symmetry and hence the harmony of the farm. Aesthetically they are sentinels, but functionally they serve as drying houses for seed saving and the occasional bar for parties. Color itself is a powerful element of design. Holding to a strict color palette and using this to establish a visual hierarchy brings a sense of harmony to the farm.

The main house and gatehouses are lime-washed with soft butter yellow pigment and white trim. The ancillary buildings nearest the main house, namely the summer kitchen and art studio are painted “Super White” by Benjamin Moore. Working buildings, sheds, and fences are painted with a dark stain. And all of these structures share a common roof color, the traditional “Tinners Red,” originally made from red pigment and linseed oil. These colors are grounded in place as they were derived from the site. Yellow and white daffodils in the spring are echoed by the hues of the house, the dark blackish-brown of the barns and four board fences from the bark color of the Post Oak tree trunks. Similarly, light green accents are directly taken from the color of green lichen on trees and rocks, and the roof color from the red oxide found in the native dry stack stone walls. While many of these underlying notions may not be immediately apparent to a visitor they do contribute to the overall experience and feeling of tranquility one senses when moving through space. All of these devices are meant to allow the built environment to fit comfortably into the landscape. A gentle footprint set in harmony with nature and not forced upon it. In a dystopian world that is largely disconnected from nature and existing with a fragmented cultural identity, my hope is that our work at Moss Mountain Farm offers a hopeful and sustainable alternative. Good design matters, beauty is transforming and nature is healing.

P. Allen Smith is an author, designer, conservationist and farmer. Follow him on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook.

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table talk | UNCLE BUBBA’S BBQ & SMOKEHOUSE

Inside Uncle Bubba’s Barbecue & Smokehouse

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An Architectural Encore: From Tractors to Barbecue By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Adam Mitchell and Mary Ann DeSantis

Hernando’s farm implement building has found a new life in barbecue thanks to entrepreneur Preston McAlexander. Those whose minds live somewhere between the past and the present often cherish old things and the idea of giving them new life. Such is the case with Preston McAlexander. McAlexander lives in Hernando with wife Meredith, and their three children in the original Banks house located just off the square. The couple moved to Hernando in 2004 when the city began experiencing steady growth. “I’m from Holly Springs and my wife is from Oxford so we liked that it had an old downtown and a square,” McAlexander said of his move to Hernando. “We had a feeling there was potential for growth.” One building blocks from his home caught his eye

more than once and found new life through McAlexander’s vision. Today, Uncle Bubba’s Barbecue & Smokehouse and a retail boutique occupy the original International Harvester implement building. “I bought the building because it had character and was in a great spot,” McAlexaner says. “I’d ride by and think this tractor company shouldn’t be one block off the square.” While the tractor company might not fit in today’s Hernando, the building had good company in previous decades when car dealerships or gas stations were located around it. Lifelong DeSoto County resident and former tax assessor, Parker Pickle, remembers the building. His family ran a dairy DeSoto 33


Uncle Bubba’s pulled pork, mac and cheese, hashbrown casserole and beef brisket

his entire youth. “I was in that building a million times,” Pickle relates. “Mr. Lambert owned it. We had an International tractor.” Pickle also remembers the Shell station owned by Ed and Red Latham and Garrett’s Dodge Motors, among other neighboring businesses. The McAlexanders built homes in two different neighborhoods during their early years, but eventually bought the Banks house in 2016. “Neither the house nor the building were really on our radar,” he says. By this time, the couple had three young children as well as his pediatric dental practice. While he loves dentistry as a profession, he confesses that historic buildings and real estate hold an equal fascination for him. “What appeals to me is the aesthetic,” McAlexander says. “I have no interest in building a strip mall or something commercial. I think growing up in Holly Springs influenced my preservation philosophy. We didn’t live in an antebellum home, but they were always around me.” The former International Harvester building, located on Highway 51 north of the square, previously housed a Kubota dealership and repair shop. After purchasing the brick building, McAlexander worked with local architect Doug Thornton of AERC to come up with a plan. McAlexander says 34 DeSoto

change seemed to be the only constant during the design phase. “We considered several ideas,” he explains. “One was to keep it and pop the top off and add a second story for condos and mixed-use space. We actually considered knocking the building down and building a three-story building. People said just begin with the original building and redesign it.” The last option made the most sense to McAlexander and work began in early 2018. The 1947 building was in decent shape and covered about 5,000 square feet. The challenge lay in transforming an industrial, mechanical site, which always contained tractors, into something else. The property on which the building sits required some remediation and dirt work. While moving dirt on the south side of the building where a parking lot now exists, the crew unearthed empty tanks that were removed, most likely from the original gas station. After McAlexander and the contractor basically gutted the brick building, the restoration involved a new roof, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC equipment. During that time, McAlexander stayed close to the project despite work and family commitments. On occasion, even the family joined in. More than a year later, the restaurant featuring signature barbecue opened. Its interior retains a sense of rustic industrial with a mixture of cypress boards and tin. McAlexander even used oak lumber milled from trees on the


Banks property. Local Brooks Entrikin built the barn doors. McAlexander says he learned a lot during the project. “It’s not like you can draw a design on a napkin and make it happen,” he says. “Nor can you just spruce up an old building to make it look better. We worked with an engineer to meet current codes, including fire and seismic codes. When changing occupancy of a building, it’s all required.” A fun fact involves the outdoor game area which is covered in artificial turf, formerly used on a practice field for the Tennessee Titans. “ We d e c i d e d t o l e av e t h e original stripping which was on the turf,” McAlexander says. “It’s now a good area for kids or where people can play corn hole.” Although the building required a lot of hard work, McAlexander hopes to tackle another project and has already purchased an adjacent office building. “It was a great learning experience and I’m pleased with it,” he says of restoring the building and opening Uncle Bubba’s Barbecue & Smokehouse. “I love to take something old and make it new, repurpose it.”

A freelance copywriter and editor, Karen Ott Mayer has been helping media and business clients produce award-winning content since 1999.

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exploring destinations | CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA

Town of Cape Charles Library

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Living the Good Life Story and photography by Kurt Jacobson

Cape Charles, Virginia, has been transformed from a declining railroad town to a delightful seaside getaway. Hundreds of vintage homes line the tree-clad streets of Cape Charles, resembling small-town America of the 1920s. Brick chimneys protrude from old Virginia houses, evidence of an era when coal and wood fires warmed occupants on chilly winter days. Mockingbirds, osprey, and songbirds provide a natural soundscape, paying no attention to the passage of time. Thomas Savage arrived in colonial Jamestown on Jan. 2, 1608. Though only a lad of 13 years old, he was sent to live with the local Native Americans for several years to learn their language and customs. In 1619, Chief Debedeavon gifted Thomas around 9,000 acres on the Southern Delmarva Peninsula to foster trade with the tribes. Some of Thomas’ descendants still live in the Cape Charles area.

What started as a railroad town in 1884 by Alexander Cassatt (brother of painter Mary Cassatt), and his partner William L. Scott, Cape Charles has prospered, languished, and been reborn to the delight of residents and visitors. The original 644 lots platted by the town’s founders, along with 97 Sea Cottage Addition lots developed in 1911, have become one of America’s best-preserved towns. Currently, there are more than 520 homes and buildings with historic designations. Tough times The decline of Cape Charles is similar to other railroad towns in America. Thanks to the railroad, ferries, and natural resources, the town flourished up until the 1950s, but DeSoto 37


Town of Cape Charles Public Beach

when the last New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk (NYP&N) passenger train left the station on Jan. 11, 1958, the economy declined. “Northampton County was once one of Virginia’s most prosperous in the 1920s, then one of the poorest counties decades later,” says Tammy Holloway, owner of the town’s Bay Haven Inn. Homes and businesses languished for several decades until the early 2000s when buyers from the Western Shore bought and renovated the dilapidated old homes. By 2010, Cape Charles was gaining a new life with restaurants, classy lodgings, farm-fresh produce, and a white sand beach to make this a summer paradise. Its history, however, remains. Street signs in the historic district are named after famous Virginia politicians and fruit. Architectural styles run the gamut: Victorian, Colonial Revival, Neoclassical, Four Square, Sears kit homes, Romanesque, and more. “The American Four Square is the most common style,” said Kim Starr, owner of Chesapeake Properties. “It gets its name from four rooms upstairs and four rooms down.” Pride of ownership is evident in this new wave of townsfolk. It’s hard to find a home in the historic district that isn’t in tip-top condition. Brightly painted houses with carefully 38 DeSoto

tended gardens harken back to a time when the railroad, farms, ferries, and fisheries were in full-swing and the banks gushing cash. One can imagine sitting on a wrap-around porch at the turn of the last century, sipping an ice tea, calmly discussing news of the day. Many new owners use these gorgeous renovated homes as summer getaways or vacation rentals. Gone are the bargains of 10-to-20 years ago when an astute buyer could grab a Victorian for well under $100,000. Today an original home within the historic district typically costs $350,000 and up. What’s driving this housing market is peace and quiet, life away from the madding crowd. Locals and visitors love hanging out, eschewing automobiles for the ubiquitous “golf carts” in town. “Cape Charles has over 300 golf carts, either owned or rentals, the most of any small town in the U.S.,” says Roberta Romeo, owner of Cape Charles Coffee House. Touring the Town   The first landmark many visitors notice is the water tower patterned after the 1893 Cape Charles Lighthouse. The 217 feet-tall water tower looks so realistic as a lighthouse, it fools many visitors. Drop-in at the visitor’s center/museum near the water tower on your way into town to pick up the free “Walking


Tour of Historic Cape Charles” guidebook for a history and architectural lesson while checking out the town’s highlights. Most of the notable sites are located within one to two hours on foot, or less time in a rented golf cart. Be sure and explore the public beach, one of the best on the Eastern Shore. Warning: many visitors who came for a short vacation are now happily living the good life in Cape Charles. Will you be one of those new residents? Only time will tell. capecharlesvirginiascape.com

Kurt Jacobson is a freelance travel and food writer living in Perry Hall, Md. Kurt’s stories have appeared in Alaska Magazine, Fish Alaska Magazine, Edible Delmarva Magazine, Metropolis, and many other publications.

Kelly’s Gingernut pub

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on the road again | BOWLING GREEN, KENTUCKY

, n e e r G g n i l w Bo Kentucky

8:00 Join locals for breakfast at Boyce General Store where you can fill both your stomach and your gas tank. With roots going back to 1869, Boyce is often described as “a piece of American history.” The specialty is the Big Breakfast (two eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuit and gravy and home fries). For those with smaller appetites, there’s also a Lil Breakfast. 9:30 Bowling Green’s star attraction is the National Corvette Museum. Adjacent to the plant which manufactures the legendary sports cars, the museum is a fitting homage to the beloved ‘Vette. Some 80 Corvettes are on display in period settings – from the model used in the 1950s TV series “Route 66” to one owned by country music legend Roy Orbison. Be sure to look into the 30-foot abyss known as the $30 million hole. In 2014 a sinkhole opened and swallowed eight cars, which are still displayed. 11:15 Corvette fun continues as visitors can experience driving a ‘Vette – either around a virtual track in a simulator or around the three-mile course at the Motorsports Park. Shotgun rides with a professional driver are also available. 12:30 Grab a burger, fries and a shake in the Corvette Café for lunch. The café’s 1950s décor will make you think you’re an extra in the movie “American Graffiti.” 2:00 Head up the hill to the beautiful campus of Western Kentucky State University where seeing the architecture alone is worth a visit. The real gem is the on-campus Kentucky Museum with its permanent exhibit dedicated to native son Duncan Hines, who was renowned for being one of the South’s most influential food writers and an early endorser of culinary brands. Duncan Hines cake mix, anyone? 4:00 Take a self-guided walking tour of the ShakeRag District, listed on the National Historic Register in acknowledgement of its importance in African American history. Notable buildings include the State Street Baptist Church, the city’s oldest African American church (1838) and the Underwood-Jones Home, home of the black community’s first doctor. 5:30 Stroll through Bowling Green’s charming downtown, anchored by the peaceful oasis of Fountain Square, which still retains a 1950s feel. 6:30 Book a table for dinner at the Steamer Southern Seafood Kitchen. Seafood here is so fresh you’ll think you’re on the coast, not in land-locked Kentucky. Specialties include a New Orleans-style Shrimp and Grits and Frogmore Stew, a South Carolina Low Country boil with shrimp, smoked sausage, onion, potatoes and corn on the cob. 8:30 Enjoy a nightcap in the Grand Hotel’s elegant Derby Piano and Dessert Bar. Order a bourbon cocktail and if you’re here Thursday through Saturday, enjoy the live piano music.

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To plan your visit: www.visitbgky.com

Things to see!

Mammoth Cave’s Natural Wonders Just a half-hour drive from Bowling Green, Mammoth Cave National Park is a must. The largest mapped cave system in the world, it has tours for all levels of spelunkers, from a 30-minute guided tour for beginners to the six-and-a-halfhour, five-and-a-half-mile Wild Cave Tour. Either way, marvel at crystal columns suspended from the cave ceiling which sparkle as if sprinkled with fairy dust, and admire its natural wonders – Roosevelt’s Dome, Star Chamber, Giant’s Coffin, and Snowball Room.

Lost River Lost River Cave offers Kentucky’s only underground boat tour. See the spectacular cave formations while hearing stories of disappearing Civil War soldiers sucked into the blue hole of the cave’s underground river, never to be seen again. Don’t worry – that won’t happen to you.

Beech Bend Amusement Park One of the South’s most iconic amusement parks, Beech Bend Amusement Park and Splash Lagoon will evoke memories of your childhood. A two-day play pass ($39.99) is good for admission and all rides and shows.

Riverview Antebellum Mansion Riverview at Hobson Grove is an antebellum mansion almost a quarter of a century in the making. Construction began in the 1850s but was halted by the Civil War and not completed until 1872. -- Compiled by Patti Nickell

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greater goods | MOTHER’S DAY & GRADUATION

Mother’s Day & Graduation

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1. Bundt Cake with topper, Nothing Bundt Cakes, 5338 Goodman Rd Suite 127, Olive Branch, MS 2. Inis beauty products, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 3. Scout travel bags, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 4. Etta B platter, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 5. Bamboo vase, Keep It Casual, 106 S Industrial Rd, Tupelo, MS 6. Blessing necklaces, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 7. Archipelago Lotions and soaps, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 8. Senior 2020 Wood Signs, House to Home, 8961 Highway 51 North, Southaven, MS 9. Beaded purses, Upstairs Closet, 136 Norfleet Drive, Senatobia, MS 10. Loving Cup Pottery, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 11. Angel figurines, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 12. Brighton Locket, Center Stage Fashions, 324 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS

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13. Graduation cards, Saint Boutique, 2420 E Parkway St, Hernando, MS 14. Bracelets, Ultimate Gifts, 3075 Goodman Road E, Southaven, MS 15. Gifts for Grads, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 16. Julie Vos Bracelets, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 17. Animal Print Wristlets, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 18. Locally made products, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 19. Dot & Dash necklaces, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 20. Pillows, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 21. Mary Square planners, tumblers and makeup pouch, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 22. Make-up brushes and vanity lights, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 23. Jennifer Thymes jewelry, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS

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By Karon Warren Photography courtesy of Lifestyle Communities

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Silo Square’s mixed-used development in Southaven will offer a variety of activities in one convenient place.

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Lot 16 Perspective

Lot 17 Perspective

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Silo Square, the new mixed-used development coming to Southaven, looks to serve as the city’s unofficial town square, mainly because developer Brian Hill adores town squares. “I love the character and charm they have, and I’ve always wanted to [create one,]” says Hill, owner of Lifestyle Communities, a real estate development company in Hernando. “I’ve never had the right piece of property to do it.” That all changed when the owners of the Silo Square property approached Hill to help create something that would benefit the residents of Southaven. “I got out four pieces of paper, sat down at my table and started drafting the plan for Silo Square,” he says. “Southaven has never had a central gathering place, and locals have longed for a place like Silo Square.” Announced in November 2017 and now under construction, Silo Square — named for the silo standing on the corner of the property — is a $200-million mixedused development on 228 acres between Getwell and Tchulahoma roads across from BankPlus Amphitheatre and next to Snowden Grove Park. Mixed-used developments are pedestrian-friendly in nature, comprised of residential, retail, office, hospitality, cultural and, sometimes, industrial elements. These developments, often called live-play-work communities, allow citizens to enjoy many recreational, retail and cultural activities in one location. “Silo Square is a walkable community designed so residents can come home, throw their keys on the counter and walk to whatever they need,” Hill says. “They can go to dinner, go to the store, go to the dentist and even go to work.” At Silo Square, the main focus is 14 two-and three-story buildings around a “town square” with 100,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space across the buildings’ first floors. The upper floors will house approximately 120 lofts. The first two buildings are expected to open in June and will include such businesses as City Hall Cheesecake, Magnolia House Lifestyle Store, Ultimate Gifts and Custom Jewelry. The exterior of the buildings are architecturally designed to resemble historic downtowns not unlike those found in many other locations. In fact, Hill says he took inspiration from downtown Memphis. DeSoto 47


Birds eye view of Tekila

He worked with Brian Bullard, Stephen Skinner, and Will Sealock of UrbanArch Associates P.C. in Memphis to create the designs. He also worked with Dalhoff Thomas Design Studio in Memphis on renderings. Those designs certainly caught the attention of Southaven city officials. “Silo Square will bring architectural character never seen here before as the buildings will be built with an urban design up near the streets and sidewalks and made to look like old buildings built many decades ago,” Southaven Mayor Darren Musselwhite stated in an April 24, 2018, post on his blog. “The general design will have the look of what you will see on Main Street in Memphis, the Square in Oxford, or in old ski-resort towns in Colorado.” Four designated office lots will house a variety of businesses, including a dentist office, on a 4-acre site. Planters Bank also is building its North Mississippi headquarters at Silo Square. At the back of the development, approximately 305 single-family residential homes will occupy approximately 120 acres. Currently, there is one restaurant open for business: 48 DeSoto

Slim Chickens, which sits on an outparcel. Another restaurant, Tekila Mexican Grill & Cantina, will occupy another outparcel. Hill is excited about the plans for this future eatery. “There’s not a restaurant in Memphis that compares to it architecturally,” he says. “It will feature traditional architecture to match the silo (the development’s namesake) with black accents, but then it has modern flare and a second-floor patio overlooking Snowden Grove Park.” Silo Square will have approximately 63 acres of common open space that consists of wooded areas, lakes, trail systems, and parks. A focal point will be a 40-foot bell tower complete with a reclaimed church bell. “We will have pocket parks in the development as well as a dedicated dog park approximately 1 acre in size,” Hill says. That includes a 10-foot-wide multi-use trail connecting Getwell to Tchulahoma roads. In addition, a pedestrian bridge will span Getwell Road to connect Silo Square to Snowden Grove Park. Currently, soccer fields are under construction at Snowden Grove Park, which is expected to bring in more visitors from out of town. To address that need, Silo Square plans to add a hotel into its already eclectic mix of offerings.


Additional plans call for a farmers market building that will be a replica of an old barn. Hill says he hopes it will host a winter ice skating rink as well as other seasonal events such as an antique car show and a sunflower festival, which would pay homage to the sunflower field that used to bloom along Getwell Road. Hill also envisions Silo Square as the site of charity fundraising events held in the town square, happenings which will be similar to a block party. For Musselwhite, Silo Square fulfills a years-long request. In his blog post, the mayor stated that, for five years, he asked developers to bring something to Southaven the city hasn’t had before. He also believes Silo Square will “tie-in nicely with Snowden Grove Park and help make our city more pedestrian-friendly and improve our entertainment value. “Southaven is an ‘auto-era’ city that has never had a traditional town square that is commonly found with older, ‘railera’ cities that were naturally designed to be more walkable,” Musselwhite wrote in his blog. “The town square design with this development will add this amenity.” The mayor is not alone in his praise of Silo Square. In 2019, the Memphis Business Journal named Silo Square one of its “Best Real Estate Deals,” holding court with such notables as the Overton Square hotel and One Beale mixed-used development, both in Memphis. Due to the amount of rain Southaven has experienced over the last several months, the completion of Silo Square is behind schedule. Right now, Hill hopes to have six of the 14 town square buildings completed, with another two under construction, by the end of 2020. Residential construction also is underway, both with the lofts and the single-family homes. He estimates the commercial area is eight months behind schedule, and the residential area is a year behind. Regardless, Hill hopes Southaven residents will agree Silo Square is worth the wait.

A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon Warren now lives in Ellijay, Ga. Her work is also featured on CruiseCritic.com, LendingTree. com and Healthgrades.com.

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A HISTORY OF STYLE AND PEOPLE By Idara Hampton Photography courtesy of Chad Riley

Mobile offers diverse architectural history throughout its historic downtown, homes and churches. DeSoto 51


Antebellum Double Parlors

French Bedroom

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For a city a little over three centuries old, Mobile has a rich, diverse, and well preserved architectural history. “The history of Mobile architecture takes you from our beginning days as a colonial port through our golden ages of the antebellum era, the post-antebellum era, the turn of the century, and modernism in its various forms,” says architectural historian Cartledge Blackwell III. But it existed in the lives of Native Americans for centuries before that. Indigenous peoples put their unique stamp on the architecture of the area using natural resources such as palmetto, sugar cane, and clay to construct their houses. “Native people used what nature provided readily to make their homes,” explains Philip Carr, professor of anthropology at the University of South Alabama. From early beginnings to modern times, the architecture of Mobile exhibits its past in a portfolio of styles. Historic homes and churches While early settlers in Mobile used more sophisticated methods to build their homes than Native Americans, they still took advantage of natural resources to do so. For example, the Conde-Charlotte Home and Museum was constructed with handmade brick consisting of a mixture of clay, shale, and sand. It is one of the few fully restored older homes in Mobile that survived the Civil War intact despite the city being under Union siege. Built in 1822, the home has two Confederate parlors decorated in classic Victorian style with vivid reds, representing well the antebellum period in Mobile. A sophisticated Greek Revival portico was added in the 1840s. Recently the home was renovated to update both the interior and exterior. Although the home has been described as one of the more architecturally interesting homes in the city, it was not constructed during Mobile’s architectural heyday. According to architectural historians, Mobile’s golden age was from the 1830s to the Civil War, a time when king cotton created a booming economy that fostered the development of great architecture. The 1830s saw the introduction of Greek Revival-style architecture for churches, banks, and major civil buildings in downtown Mobile. DeSoto 53


Government Presbyterian Church, built in 1836, has been called one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in America. The design of this church combines both classical Greek and Egyptian design elements such as Corinthian columns and pylons. “The columns are based on a design found at the Tower of the Winds in Athens Greece, a building dating to 50 B.C,” explains Tom McGehee, director of Bellingrath Museum Home. Adding to the church’s uniqueness is the fact that it has the only intact interior of a historic church in Mobile. Another popular historic church that has managed to maintain its originality is Trinity Episcopal. It was established in 1845 and is the first large-scale masonry Gothic Revival church constructed in Alabama. Some of its architectural features include a central aisle, a distinct and separate chancel demarcated by the chancel arch, and an open timber ceiling. The church was relocated in 1945. Maintaining the purity of the ecclesiological-correct features during its reconstruction was so important that the church was deconstructed brick by brick and relocated to Dauphin Street where it was completely reassembled. As a result, the church still maintains much of its original design. Evolving Architecture Right before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Mobilians enjoyed the increasingly popular antebellumstyle architecture in homes and buildings. Today, world-class antebellum buildings replete with cast iron finishes grace the streets of downtown Mobile. The finest example of antebellum cast-iron architecture is located at 2 Water Street. “It’s a wonderful example of a cast-iron facade applied 54 DeSoto

to a brick structure,” says architectural historian John Sledge. “That was very common during the Civil War and immediately after it. This one dates from 1860. It was imported from New York City in pieces on a sailing ship and assembled on-site and really looks like a Venetian palazzo in a downtown Southern city.” Yet another architectural marvel built in 1860 is the Richards DAR House in downtown Mobile. It remains one of the most spectacular examples of ornamental cast iron on the Gulf Coast with its hearts, tendrils, grape clusters, and allegorical figures of the four seasons in the porch railing. As the 19th century progressed, Mobile’s prospects began to improve and Victorian architecture was introduced. “You have frame houses for all classes with a degree of ornament or what we would call gingerbread today,” John Sledge remarks. Details such as “fine balusters or drop friezes or what we would call railings and porch columns that were turned in some artful way” added to the elegance of residences. Later, a mix of revivals like the Romanesque Revival and Tudor Revival was introduced. The architectural landscape then expanded again in the early 20th century, an era referred to by historians as the progressive era or progressive period. The city started to flourish and experienced a phenomenal period of construction in the suburbs and downtown. Masonry buildings emerged on the scene as the Victorian style faded in popularity. Stucco became a popular material to use. Several revival styles, including the Mission, Spanish Colonial, and Neo-Classical styles began to appear in the area. One such example is an elaborate Mission or Spanish Revivalstyle train station near downtown Mobile. The GM&O, the Gulf Mobile and Ohio, is a distinct building with an orange


clay tile roof and an impressive variety of elaborate decoration on its facade. As time progressed, the midcentury modern movement took hold and “Mad Men”-style homes emerged. The industrial revolution introduced new materials and new construction methods during this time. There are delightful examples of mid-century modern homes — low horizontal lines, flat roofs, interesting informal floor plans, and a mixture of materials — in neighborhoods such as Skyland Ranch. New Restorations From the dawn of Mobile to its modern development, the city has evolved as an architectural wonderland. Many important renovations of historic buildings have taken place over the years. Due in part to the historic preservation movement and the recent renewal of the Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program, future renovation projects are feasible. One such project involves the restoration of Alabama’s first public school. The Barton Academy was constructed in 1839 in the Greek Revival style, closed during the Civil War and re-opened in the 1870s. However, it transitioned from a school to the school system’s central office from the 1960s until 2007. The next renovation will transform it back into a schoolhouse. After a decadeplus of fundraising from a wide variety of sources, including private and foundational support, Barton Academy is preparing for renovation work to begin in the spring and last until the end of 2020. Once restored, the school will be known as the Barton Academy for Advanced World Studies. Along with many other historic buildings in the area, it will continue to enhance the rich and diverse legacy of Mobile’s architectural heritage for many years to come. “It (Mobile’s architectural history) is first and foremost a story of Mobile as a people — people as patrons, clients, architects, builders, and interior designers,” Blackwell says. “It is the story of who we are and where we’re going.” Idara Hampton is a freelance writer and blogger located in Spanish Fort, Ala.

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Claude Monet (1840–1926), Camille at the Window, Argenteuil, 1873. oil on canvas, 23.75 x 19.625 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 85.38. Image © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.


Très bel art

Rare Collection Wows Mississippians By Michele D. Baker Photography courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon

The French Masters make an “impression” at the Mississippi Museum of Art in a priceless exhibition. DeSoto 57


Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), The Wheat Field behind St. Paul’s Hospital, St. Rémy, 1889. oil on canvas, 9.5 x 12.75 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 83.26. © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), Tropical Landscape, 1910. oil on canvas, 44.75 x 64 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 84.3. Image © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

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Although most vacations to France are on hold this summer, Mississippians still can experience the French art scene with “Van Gogh, Monet, Degas and Their Times,” a special exhibit at the Mississippi Museum of Art that runs until Sept. 27. The exhibit, spanning 150 years, showcases major schools of French art including romanticism, impressionism, and cubism and features paintings and sculptures by French and Dutch masters including Pierre Bonnard, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Henri Rousseau, Vincent van Gogh, and many others. The exceptional selection of work highlights the connoisseurship of Paul and Rachel Lambert Mellon, who were among the most philanthropic artcollecting couples of the last century. The 74 pieces in this exhibit were culled from hundreds of artworks personally chosen and purchased by the Mellons. These paintings and sculptures adorned the couple’s various residences before being donated or bequeathed to museums. An enthusiastic art collector and generous patron, Paul Mellon said in 1986: “While owning these pictures, in addition to the daily pleasure they gave us, there was also the subliminal pleasure of knowing that someday they would be seen and loved by many people.” The 74-piece Mellon Collection of French Art is on loan from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, which is allowing the exhibit to travel while its home gallery undergoes a two-year refurbishment. After stops in Pittsburgh, Nashville, Oklahoma City, and Paris, France, the collection arrived at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, thanks to the generous patronage of the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. The exhibit will return to the Virginia Museum of Art to be permanently reinstalled in its freshly renovated gallery. Curated by Mitchell Merling, director of the European Art department at the Virginia museum, the exhibit echoes many of the lifetime interests of the Mellons: horses, flowers, Paris, the countryside, the water, and entertaining. In the catalogue created to accompany the exhibit, Merling says, “The Mellons never intended to become systematic collectors; instead, they acquired works that appealed to their sensibilities. Focusing mainly on impressionism… [they] appreciated the directness of observation DeSoto 59


Édouard Manet (1832–1883), On the Beach, Boulogne-sur-Mer, 1868. oil on canvas, 12.75 x 26 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 85.498. Image © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

and the spontaneity of brushstrokes that were the hallmarks of these artists. Paul [Mellon] also particularly liked small-sized paintings for their intimacy and human appeal.” When plans to renovate the exhibit space began, Alex Nyerges, director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, suggested the world-class collection could visit Mississippi as part of its tour. Nyerges, a noted photographer, curator, author, and art and photo historian in his own right, had previously served as executive director of the Mississippi Museum of Art until 1992 and wanted the beautiful pieces to be seen in the Mid-South. “This is the first traveling exhibition of the Mellon Collection since Mrs. Mellon’s bequest to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in 2014. Included are works by all the best-known artists, both French and Dutch, of the late 19th century who abandoned the official methods of the French Academy and forged a new way of painting that came to be called ‘Impressionism’,” says Roger Ward, deputy director of Art and Programs for the Mississippi Museum of Art. “We are thrilled by the opportunity to share these masterpieces with Jackson and our visitors from around the world.” Impressionism as an artistic style developed in France in the 19th century and was based on the practice of painting en plein air (out-of-doors) and spontaneously “on the spot” rather than in a studio from sketches. Impressionist painters created lifelike subjects painted in a broad, rapid style, with soft, broken brushstrokes and bright colors. As opposed to “classical” formal portraits and posed scenes, they captured landscapes and scenes of everyday life. This extraordinary exhibit contains still life scenes, views of fields or water, horses, and people in

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natural, ordinary activities such as watering plants, resting on a picnic blanket, looking out a window, or relaxing in a chair. Organized thematically, the exhibition opens with equestrian paintings by Degas and Delacroix, including “Study of a Brown-Black Horse Tethered to a Wall,” and “Mounted Jockey,” by Théodore Géricault. These are followed by Monet’s human figures and portraits, including “Camille at the Window, Argenteuil,” and Renoir’s “Pensive (La Songeuse).” Of special note is “Young Woman Watering a Shrub” by Berthe Morisot, one of the few female Impressionist painters. As such, Morisot is the only woman artist featured in this exhibit, and two more of her earlier works are also part of the collection: “On the Beach” and “The Jetty.” While Marisot was a central figure of the Impressionist movement – and exhibited at seven of the eight Impressionist art shows beginning in 1874 – she was still held to her role as a woman. The household was her principal place of interaction and intimate, domestic scenes predominated in her later work. The collection also features views of Paris – a city much beloved by the Mellons. Impressionist and Post-Impressionist urban cityscapes by Bonnard include “The Pont de Grenelle and the Eiffel Tower” and Van Gogh’s “The Laundry Boat on the Seine at Asnières.” Another group of paintings feature water, demonstrating the Impressionists’ skill at capturing this difficult fluid surface. A selection of paintings of the French countryside features Monet’s vibrant “Field of Poppies, Giverny,” smaller canvases by Georges Seurat, and “The Wheat Field Behind St. Paul’s Hospital, St. Rémy” by Van Gogh.


Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), Young Woman Watering a Shrub, 1876. oil on canvas, 14.5 x 18.25 in. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, 83.40. Image © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The final section of the exhibit contains large, iconic paintings that stand apart from the more intimate feel of many of the other works in the collection. Among the masterpieces on view are Rousseau’s tour de force “Tropical Landscape,” Bonnard’s Post-Impressionist “The Dining Room,” and Picasso’s cubist still life “The Chinese Chest of Drawers.” Not to be missed is “The Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen” (cast after 1922), a bronze statue by Degas of a girl in a tutu and satin hair ribbon. Make plans to enjoy this unique artistic experience before the exhibit ends in late September. Tickets are $15 ($13 for seniors and $10 for students) or free for members of the Mississippi Museum of Art, children aged 5 and under, and K-12 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays thanks to donations from Feild Co-operative Associations, Inc., and BlueCross BlueShield of Mississippi. MSMuseumArt.org

Michele D. Baker is a freelance travel writer and food lover in Jackson, Miss. She has three cats and 4,000 books and loves the 80s music station on Pandora.

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homegrown | SCOOPLES JEWELRY

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A Spoonful of Beauty Jackie Sheckler Finch | Photography courtesy of Scooples Jewelry

Arkansas native started creating jewelry from spoons but now produces lovely pieces with gemstones, Venetian glass, and more. When Cindy French was a little girl, she loved to admire her mother’s jewelry, purses, and shoes. The bright colors, sparkly jewels, and smooth fabrics were fascinating. What a joy, she thought, to dress up in all that finery. That love for fashion continued when French became a teenager.

“I’ve always been interested in fashion of some sort,” she says. Not surprisingly, French grew up to work in the fashion field by creating her own jewelry designs for women of all ages. The result was Scooples Jewelry headquartered in Marion, Ark. “I was just a girl that loved jewelry and started this as a hobby DeSoto 63


Cindy French

in 1993,” the self-taught jeweler explains. “I had a vision to make this hobby a career and, with the help of many people over the years, this dream has become a reality.” First, French started creating spoon jewelry, carefully crafting the everyday utensils into fashionable rings, pendants or bracelets. That’s where the name Scooples Jewelry was derived, “from the scoop of a spoon,” French says. From spoons, French began researching and developing her own line of jewelry using quality beads, gemstones, and metals. Each piece of Scooples Jewelry is hand-crafted to be unique pieces with Venetian glass beads, Lamp Work beads, porcelain beads, semi-precious gemstones, and metals. Located in French’s hometown of Marion, Scooples is a wholesaler selling online to boutiques around the United States, as well as in Canada and Aruba. “Marion is where my roots are,” she says. “It’s where I grew up and where my family lives.” It is also where Susan Warner owns a lovely shop named The Speckled Egg Boutique, which carries Scooples Jewelry. “I have known Cindy for probably 39 years,” Warner says. “She is hometown and very honest and sweet. Just a good Christian woman.” As for that Scooples Jewelry, shoppers at The Speckled Egg Boutique are loyal devotees. “People around here and from afar love Scooples Jewelry,” Warner says. “It is one-of-a-kind and it is priced good. And Cindy stands behind every piece she makes, no matter how long you have had it.” French serves as owner and lead designer. She is assisted by her husband, Tom French. “My husband has been by my side for over 20 years of me being in this business,” she says. “He supports and helps me in any way that he can. “I just had a conversation with my employees that we couldn’t do this without their undying commitment to us. We are more than blessed to have such amazing ladies that work so hard to make this possible.” Keeping prices affordable is an important goal as is creating unique designs, 64 DeSoto


French says. She creates what she calls “comfortable and affordable jewelry for budgets and bodies of all shapes and sizes.” In addition, Scooples is known for its layering and stacking pieces which create even more personalized styles. Scooples’ layering pieces are designed with simplicity in mind so they can be added with other designs for greater visual impact. Stacking bracelets, for example, is similar to layering necklaces where more truly is more. “Whether you plan to stack monochromatically or mix your metals and hues, stacking your arm candy amps up your ensemble with ease,” she says. “However, do not underestimate the power of simplicity in wearing these layering pieces alone.” Wearing jewelry is a simple way to add oomph to any outfit, French adds. “The importance of wearing statement pieces of jewelry can bring confidence to yourself. I feel a statement piece can bump up the perfect outfit to the next level.” Over the years, French also has been asked to create tailor-made pieces. Some of the unusual pieces she has made, French says, are “prom jewelry and wedding heirloom pieces from jewelry pieces of a beloved person who has passed.” One of the most rewarding aspects of designing Scooples Jewelry and seeing it come alive is knowing the joy it gives, French says. “I have pointed out to my employees to think of the thousands of women and girls that open up our jewelry as a gift and how many people that love receiving our pieces as gifts for different occasions.” Since jewelry never goes out of style, French says it is heartwarming to know that Scooples Jewelry may be passed down in families as heirlooms. “We use quality products and genuine gemstones so our jewelry will last,” she says. “I still come across people who are wearing pieces I created from the beginning… After all these years, I feel very blessed and humbled to be able to make and sell my jewels. scooplesjewelry.net instagram.com/cfrenchscooplesjewelry

An award-winning journalist, Jackie Sheckler Finch loves to take to the road to see what lies beyond the next bend.

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southern gentleman | COMPETITIVE BBQ COOKING

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Curing “Barbecue-itis” By Jason Frye | Photography courtesy of Clay Coleman / Clay’s House of Pig

Take your barbecue skills out of the backyard and into the world of competitive ’cues. When you have trouble falling asleep, do you still count sheep, or have you moved on to counting pigs jumping a bed of coals or maybe smoke-swaddled ribs – rack after rack of them – on a rotisserie? If this is you, you might have a problem: Barbecue-itis. There’s no cure for barbecue-itis, but you can control this fire burning in your belly, and the surest way to do that is to take your barbecue skills out of the backyard and into the world of competitive ’cue. Before you grab your grill-brush and give the old Webber a good scrubbing, you need to consider a few things about competitive barbecue. Sure, it sounds fun, but competition cooking has little to do with the barbecue you make at home – barbecue that’s undoubtedly been called “the best pulled pork we’ve had at a church potluck,” or “ribs so good I’d vote for them if they ran for mayor.”

Yes, competition barbecue is, in the end, still barbecue, and you still need to know your cook times, cook temps, rub recipes and the exact right time to flip a pig, mop a little more sauce on or add a few coals, but competition ’cue is so much more. “Competition barbecue is very rich,” according to Ryan Matthews whose Lap Hogz BBQ competition team hails from South Carolina. “It’s a ‘one-bite’ barbecue made to wow the judges; it’s not usually something you’d like to enjoy an entire plate of.” Culinary judges will tell you that plates of ’cue during barbecue competitions are delicious for about two bites, then they can overwhelm the palate. The sauce can be too sweet, the barbecue a little too fatty or smoky or salty, or something so spicy that a third bite would be dangerous to you and those around you. DeSoto 67


“Now I’m a barbecue purist, so I’m no fan of competitions,” says Matt Register, owner and pitmaster of Southern Smoke Barbecue in Garland, N.C. “But whether you’re cooking for yourself, for a restaurant or for a competition, you have to do your own barbecue. Your own flavor. Your own style.” And that takes practice. Clay Coleman of Tupelo, Miss.’s Clay’s House of Pig (C.H.O.P.), knows a thing or two about practice. He cooks ’cue every day outside his bait-and-tackle shop, drawing hungry anglers and barbecue lovers from far and wide. He didn’t get into competitive cooking, however, until his dad entered them in a contest – with a homemade smoker built from a 55-gallon drum. “A local car lot was putting on a barbecue contest and dad entered us into our first competition,” remembers Coleman. “We stayed up all night in a parking lot keeping the fire going and mopping our pork shoulders. Then we found out that one of the other competitors had won Memphis in May.” Coleman and his dad didn’t hold out much hope for a win, but they’d practiced and practiced and it paid off: they won. You can win too. Know your fire. Learn how to make as many sauces, rubs, mops, and dressings as you can and perfect them. Along the way you’ll find your voice and your barbecue will come into its own. And when you’re ready, find a competition and see how it goes. When you’re looking for a competition to enter, see if you can find one with a patio, backyard or amateur division; this will help level the playing field a lot and you’ll find yourself cooking against other folks who don’t have a $15,000 custom smoker, a restaurant that serves 40 whole hogs a week, or a list of awards and accolades as long as a CVS receipt. What you’ll find is a community of folks who love to cook, and for whom perfection is a weekend filled with the smells of smoke and sizzling fat. Most big competitions have a category for neophytes. Take Memphis in May’s World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, one of a handful of can’t68 DeSoto


miss barbecue happenings in a given year, where the “Patio Porker” category gives novice teams a shot at glory. Patio Porker teams cannot have a restaurant affiliation, and no member of the team can be a former competitor in the championship division. Grill space is limited to only 15 square feet – which knocks out the big teams and many custom smokers – and teams can compete in this division for three years before they have to step up or step aside. All this talk of barbecue is no doubt making your stomach rumble, so we’ll leave on one final note about competition barbecue from Willis Underwood, owner and pitmaster of Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro, N.C. “Go to a cook-off or two and bring your friends – the ones you’ll be cooking with – so they can get familiar with how it works. When you talk to the experienced teams whether they’re pros or seasoned amateurs, listen and learn; they’re always willing to impart some knowledge to you. And above all else, remember it is barbecue and it’s all about sharing, camaraderie and enjoying the moment.”

Jason Frye is a certified barbecue judge and has the stains on his shirt to prove it. Follow his culinary and outdoor adventures on Instagram where he’s @BeardedWriter.

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southern harmony | THE WEEKS

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The Weeks Roll On By Jim Beaugez | Photography courtesy of The Weeks

Perseverance is a family value for the Nashville-by-way-of-Mississippi indie rockers. For every AC/DC or Van Halen, where a sibling partnership taps into a lasting well of creativity, there’s an Oasis or The Black Crowes, whose long-smoldering tensions cause them to burn brightly before flaming out completely. After 14 years and five studio albums, The Weeks have proven they’re firmly in the former camp. With identical twins Cyle and Cain Barnes at the band’s core and a lineup that dates back to their high school years in Florence, Miss., a sense of family unity is what drives the band. That camaraderie is also what helps them during trying times. On March 3, 2020, an EF3 tornado ripped through the band’s Five Points neighborhood in East Nashville, leaving homes, cafés and music clubs in ruins. “It was real, real close to us, right down the road,” frontman Cyle Barnes says. “[But] whenever anything like this happens, you see everyone come out and start to help everybody. When [Hurricane] Katrina happened, we helped clean up and got to see so many people come together. “It’s the same vibe here. It’s just good Southern hospitality.” A mural painted on the side of popular live music

venue The Basement East — bearing the rallying slogan “I Believe in Nashville” — became a symbol of hope for survivors as most of the building and the surrounding area lay in ruins. It was home turf for The Weeks, who played a two-night residency there just a couple of months earlier. “The guy who runs the place is a good friend of ours,” Barnes says. “We’ve known him since we first came to Nashville. They’re the type of people who try to give bands shots when they come here. It’s just good people. [The tornado] aimed for it, it seemed like.” The Weeks got their start a couple hundred miles to the southwest in Jackson, Miss., playing at clubs in the city before decamping to Delta State University in nearby Cleveland. But a friend’s passing led Barnes and other members to reconsider their future as a band. That’s when they decided to move to Nashville and try to make something bigger happen. The band had already minted its jangly, garageinspired rock ’n’ roll on “Comeback Cadillac,” their 2008 debut album, and soon found an audience in Music City and beyond. For two or three years, Barnes says they played 200 shows a year. DeSoto 71


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“Anytime you go back to a town and the people that were there last time are there, and then you see some strangers, you know you’re doing something right,” he says. The hard work paid off when they landed on the radar of arena-sized rockers Kings of Leon, who signed them to their Serpents and Snakes record label. They rereleased 2011’s “Gutter Gaunt Gangster” and put out 2013’s “Dear Bo Jackson,” and the bands paired for a European tour that found The Weeks playing to enormous crowds. “Seeing 20,000 people be there for a band that’s not from that country is a very amazing thing to see, and it’ll put things into perspective for you,” Barnes says. “No one’s forcing those people to be there. They’re there because they enjoy it. When you realize that your music can make 20,000 people from a different country come and see you and sing in your language, it’s a pretty surreal experience.” In 2019, the band released their fifth album, “Two Moons,” and commemorated their 14th anniversary as a band by dropping the single “This Dance” on March 3, 2020 — coincidentally, the same day the tornado blew through their community. Barnes says the band is planning to release more one-off singles this year to keep the stream of new music going and to break out of the standard two-year album cycle. By doing it on their own, they’re free to give fans new music on their own terms, when it suits them best. And the creativity keeps coming. “It’s always been just the core four guys getting in a room together and jamming and making some music,” he says. “And it seems like a weird thing to say, but it comes easy because we’ve been doing it together for so long. “I feel like that’s our motto. The moment it starts getting really difficult to write a song would be the time we need to start worrying about it. But that hasn’t happened yet.” theweeksmusic.com

Jim Beaugez is a freelance music writer based in Clinton, Miss. Follow him on Twitter @JimBeaugez.

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in good spirits | DOWN TO EARTH

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Down to Earth Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery offers Florida history with its spirited tours and cocktail tastings. It was a steamy afternoon, highs in the 90s with a chance of a hurricane when we visited the St. Augustine Distillery last summer. Dorian was growing in the upper Caribbean with northern Florida a bullseye in the hurricane cone of uncertainty. Still, we braved on. We had cocktails to consider. Ironically, the 1907 building that houses the distillery was once home to the Saint Augustine Gas and Light Company, later to become Florida Power and Light, those folks who work hard to restore electricity when hurricanes come knocking. The Ice Plant occupied the northern end of the building, a company that served Florida pioneer Henry Flagler and his many businesses and hotels in the city. According to Amber Atteberry, St. Augustine Distillery Museum director who served as our tour guide, the Ice Plant was the first of its kind in Florida and shipped product throughout the country. The distillery has since restored the property, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and part of the city’s notable Lincolnville Neighborhood. Like its predecessor, St. Augustine Distillery claims a first, this time as Florida’s first bourbon distillery. The company uses products from sustainable U.S. farms. Once distilled, the spirits are placed in wooden oak barrels for aging. When temperatures rise, as they were during our late summer visit, the wood expands. As the barrels cool off and contract, the flavors are released, Atteberry says. And because it’s Florida, we’re not talking below-freezing temperatures but more like a lower limit of 40 degrees. “The hallmark of our bourbon is the environment,” explains Atteberry. “All year round our barrels are pulling out elements of our unique environment.” St. Augustine produces other spirits as well, including vodka from sugar cane and a small batch gin that won a gold medal at the San Francisco International Spirits Competition and the American Craft Distilling Association in Austin. There’s also Pot Distilled Rum that’s aged on site.

“It has a nice vanilla back,” Atteberry says of the barrel-aged rum. “It makes for smoother, creamier tropical drinks.” St. Augustine Distillery also sells drink mixes, which Atteberry demonstrated at the end of our tour. For instance, she mixed equal parts Tropical Tiki Mix and rum, then added two parts soda water for a refreshing Tiki drink. The company also sells an Old-Fashioned Mix and a Florida Mule Mix. St. Augustine Distillery’s Florida Cane Vodka was the official spirit of Jacksonville Magazine’s Great Chefs VI, held this spring with proceeds benefiting Feeding Northeast Florida. In the event’s Cocktail Challenge competition, the “Down to Earth” fruity cocktail by Jon Insetta of Restaurant Orsay in Jacksonville took a runner-up nod. Down to Earth

1.5 ounces St. Augustine Distillery Florida Cane Vodka 1 ounce Kumquat-Strawberry Shrub 1 ounce lemon juice 1 ounce Aperol 1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth 2 dashes celery bitters

Directions: Mix together in a shaker and serve over ice. Garnish with edible flowers or a sprig of rosemary.

Cheré Coen is a native of New Orleans and thus, a lover of cocktails. Her roots hail back to Mississippi, however, which may be why she loves Four Roses bourbon as much as Faulkner.

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reflections | MEMORIES OF MOM

My mom Doris Hymen, a “Rosie the Riveter,” helping the war effort.

Maternal Advice Lives On By Mira Temkin

When May rolls around, it’s always tough for me. The second Sunday is Mother’s Day, and my beloved mother is no longer with me. How can I celebrate when there’s a large hole in my heart? My mother died at the ripe old age of 91, her faculties completely intact as her body was failing her. She lived a full life with my father in the warmth of the Sarasota, Florida, sun before he passed. Together, they enjoyed eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. While she was able, she was a fierce competitor on the tennis court. But singles soon became doubles and she finally had to hang up her racket. Fitness was her game, too, and she loved it all, especially swimming. Even in her weakened state, she continued to exercise. My mom was a great baker and her apple kugel was renowned as she generously shared her recipe with anyone who asked. How she loved those canned Comstock apples that created the magic! While I’ve tried her recipe, it’s never quite as good. I hear her voice in the quiet moments, continuing to give me good advice and suggesting ideas I hadn’t thought of before. I hear her thoughts with things she used to say now coming out of me. I listen to her words that serve as a comfort to me in the darkest moments. I see her face in the pictures that line my walls. I feel like she’s like an angel, perched on top of my shoulder, urging me on. Her presence is still felt. There is no question that when my mother died, a part of me died with her. Yet, I have found that her soul has now 76 DeSoto

become a part of me. The key, I have learned, is negotiating an ongoing bond with someone who is no longer with me. That’s true on Mother’s Day as well as during major lifecycle events. My mother lived to see three of my eight grandchildren and I feel now she’s looking down from heaven on the others. It brings me great consolation that my mother is still watching over me and protecting me from harm. As a now “expert,” I’ve developed some coping strategies on Mother’s Day: • Embrace your feelings and don’t try to sweep them under the rug. • Hang out with your father, siblings, or your children who knew and loved your mother. • Share the wonderful memories. • Bake one of her favorite recipes and take it to your police or fire station. • Volunteer at a nursing home; read to the residents. • Stay off social media. It will hurt less if you’re not bombarded with images of other families celebrating the day with their mothers. For now, consider that her soul resides within you. Continue to love her, cherish your memories, and honor her by living well. Feel her closeness. Just look inside your heart — and see her light shining through you! Mira Temkin is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in feature stories and travel.


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Profile for DeSoto Magazine | Exploring the South

DeSoto Magazine May 2020  

Beautiful historic Southern architecture and the arts.

DeSoto Magazine May 2020  

Beautiful historic Southern architecture and the arts.