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JXN // revival Hands On Armory Building

TRIP BURNS

// by Neil Polen

With great potential for an event space, this architect believes the Armory could see a comeback in the next few years.

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Spring 2013

sissippi Fair Commission may soon begin restoration. Perhaps the most feasible option for the Armory moving forward might be an entertainment venue. With a large hall surrounded by bleachers on three sides and a stage on the fourth, the architectural bones of a venue are already in place. Large windows and architectural details reminiscent of another time provide an inspiring backdrop for the next big show. The Armory is strategically located in downtown Jackson, and could serve as an alternate, more intimate entertainment venue to the nearby Mississippi Coliseum. A renovated Armory building would serve a need in the community, become a source of pride and potentially be a catalyst for more redevelopment projects in the city. See more photos of the Armory building at jfp.ms/armory.

// by Molly Lehmuller

A

little slice of the great outdoors less than 10 minutes from downtown awaits Jacksonians with an itch to explore. LeFleur’s Bluff State Park (2140 Riverside Drive, 601.987.3923) is 305 verdant acres combining the best of natural beauty and human amenities. Its Lakeland Drive entrance leads to campground areas sheltered by hardwood forests, patched with bayous and creeks, and edged by the Pearl River. The Riverside Drive gates open onto a broad lawn, golf course, playgrounds and museums. The park is named for French trader Louis LeFleur, who founded the eponymous trading post that would become Jackson on the banks of the Pearl River. For a fee of $3 per vehicle to enter the park, visitors can check out the Bluff. Horseshoeshaped Mayes Lake’s piers often play host to quiet afternoons for fishermen, and boat slips are available. Five nature trails snake through the park, each denoted by color (red, blue, yellow, purple and green) and each less than half a mile in length. The pink garden path leads visitors to wetland ponds, the Millennium Grove (a copse of historically significant trees), and endemicflower plots. Two museums sit within the park’s boundaries, the Mississippi Museum of Natural

Science and Mississippi Children’s Museum. The Children’s Museum, which opened in 2010, is the new kid in the park. Its exhibits focus on five specific topics—Mississippi heritage, health and nutrition, literacy, the arts and Mississippi industry—which allow for visitors to interact with, better understand and draw connections between seemingly disparate creative elements. Aside from its interactive galleries, the museum offers seminars with visiting artists, weekly roundups that teach youngsters about agriculture and Ready to ROAR reading time at the museum’s Literacy Gallery. The Natural Science museum is an old favorite for Jackson families. It features exhibits on Mississippi ecology with artifacts, static dioramas and live animals native to the state, housed in aquariums and terrariums. Twice a year, the museum unveils a large-scale themed display in its temporary exhibits hall. Rainforest Adventure, the current exhibit, runs until May 12. The museum’s biggest event is NatureFEST!, an indoor/outdoor festival April 6 with nature trail tours, a folklorist and touch tanks. It’s also the only time the museum opens the doors to its scientific research departments. Visitors of all ages can meet biologists and paleontologists and ask questions about fossils and preserved specimens, on display in the research offices especially for NatureFEST! COMMUNICATION ARTS COMPANY, JACKSON, MS

riving around a city like Jackson, it is easy to imagine past glory and future potential all at once. Jackson is littered with an impressive architectural inventory that has been overlooked and underutilized. One such building that has caught my eye is the old Hinds County Armory building on the State Fairgrounds downtown. Constructed in 1927, the building is an important example of Gothic Revival architecture, and has been named to both the National Register of Historic Places and the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s “most endangered buildings” list. In 1979, it was heavily damaged in the famous Easter Flood that left much of Jackson underwater, and has remained largely unused since. With a $600,000 grant recently awarded by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the Mis-

A Little Outdoor Time

Explore LeFleur’s Bluff with this handy-dandy trail mail ... don’t be afraid to get a little lost.

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BOOM Jackson v5n4 - Startup City  
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