Historic Downtown Neighborhoods in Meridian, MS
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeff Adkins
Most cities are justifiably proud of their historic district. In Meridian, that’s true as well – times nine.
The city has nine historic districts which encompass beautiful residential areas as well as a thriving downtown, making it a paradise for architecture buffs and Southern history lovers. No matter which way you turn, it’s easy to see how Meridian has been able to seamlessly integrate its storied past with its bustling present.
“There has been a huge surge of support in the past 10 years or so, driven by the turnover of many of the historic homes and properties to a new generation of mostly younger families and lovers of historic properties. We also note an increase in retirees who move here expressly for the historic homes and the neighborhoods,” says James Harwell, a commercial real estate broker and native son.
Those efforts have spilled over into the downtown area, where preservation has been demonstrably good for business, adds John McClure, executive director of Meridian Main Street.
“The advantage of the historic district is multifaceted,” McClure says. “We’ve got plenty to work with. We can bring in new businesses that will restore these properties in order to receive federal and state historic investment tax credits. We also have a downtown tax abatement program for city and county taxes, and that helps businesses that come here.
"On the tourism side, we hope to continue to connect the downtown to the older neighborhoods and bring in people specifically to see what we have done.”
All of these efforts have paid off. Meridian has earned many state and regional honors for its preservation work, including the very first Mississippi Scenic Destination designation from the Mississippi Urban Forest Council. The city also has been tapped by This Old House magazine as one of the nation’s "10 best spots to buy a historic home." And, in addition to the Downtown district, five neighborhoods have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Meridian’s “Golden Age” is on display in East End’s Queen Anne and Colonial Revival cottages, which date to the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
From the 1970s to 1936, Meridian rebuilt from the Civil War and the West End area showcases that process.
The districts of Urban Center and Union Station have been combined to form the more comprehensive Downtown district, which showcases urban architecture ranging from Italianate row buildings to an art-deco skyscraper. It also contains Union Station as well as the Terminal Hotel, General Supply Co. and the Soule’ Steam Feed complex.
Just north of downtown, Poplar Springs is an area that grew between 1900 and the 1920s, and is known for its hundreds of shade trees.
The wealthy and professional class built the Mid-Town district, which boomed along with Meridian’s railroad economy.
Begun before the Civil War, Merrehope took off after the war years and its growth spanned almost a century as the city expanded northward.
The four-block Depot district showcases Meridian’s railroad history through both residential and commercial architecture.
Known as Missouri Ridge during the Civil War, the Highlands district owes its growth to Meridian’s streetcar system.
The Meridian Fair and Livestock Exposition in 1889 laid the foundation for what would become Highland Park.
All these and more deserve the attention they’re getting for many reasons, notes Harwood.
“It is incumbent upon us to preserve, not only individual homes, but also the neighborhoods where those homes are clustered and kept as a collection,” Harwell says. “As we act in ways to promote historic preservation today, we'll be glad we did tomorrow.”
Discover more on the history of Meridian, MS.