DescriptionIn the early 1830s a wealthy plantation owner began offering free land to settlers he thought would make good neighbors. Plans were made to have the state's two major railroads intersect on the plantation, which was subsequently sold to two railroad developers. A town was incorporated in 1860 by the developers and named Meridian, which they thought meant “junction.”
A division headquarters for the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Meridian was leveled in 1864 when approximately 10,000 Union troops blazed through. Manufacturing, trade, timber and cattle industries were later established, despite such setbacks as a yellow fever epidemic in 1878 and a hurricane in 1906.
The MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts, 2200 5th St., features the Grand Opera House of Mississippi, a 1,000-seat theater built in 1890. The ornate venue closed in 1927 and remained closed for decades, its lavish interior woodwork, wall coverings and fixtures left intact for later restoration. The beautifully renovated facility is operated by Mississippi State University and presents a varied schedule of music and dance performances; phone (601) 696-2200 for the box office.
The Hamasa Shrine Temple Theater, 2320 8th St., is a Moorish Revival-style building designed by architect Emile Weil in the mid-1920s. Adding additional visual appeal in Meridian's historic downtown area are more than 100 colorful carousel horses created by local and regional artists.
Jimmie Rodgers, also known as “The Singing Brakeman,” was born in Meridian on Sept. 8, 1897. Held in May, the Jimmie Rodgers Memorial Festival honors the passing of the “Father of Country Music.” Rodgers is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery on Oak Grove Drive. Rose Hill Cemetery on 40th Avenue is the burial place of Emil and Kelly Mitchell, early 20th-century King and Queen of the Gypsies in the United States.
Visitor InfoMeridian/Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau 212 Constitution Ave. MERIDIAN, MS 39302. Phone:(601)482-8001 or (888)868-7720
ShoppingBonita Lakes Mall on Bonita Lakes Drive has 80 stores, including Belk, Dillard's and Sears.
Things to SeeDentzel Carousel