Farish Street Historic District
One of the state’s largest economically independent, African-American communities in the state was located in what is now known as the Farish Street Historic District. The area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a Jackson historic district. In 1996, the neighborhood was listed on the nation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, primarily because of the threat to what is the largest concentration of shotgun row house (circa 1930-1950) central to a surviving African-American neighborhood. The Farish Street Historic District Neighborhood Foundation in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation has begun implementing a revitalization plan in the neighborhood. Starting with a core group of shotguns, other residential properties will be addressed to further stabilize the area.
A second structure of historic importance is the Alex Williams House or Greystone Hotel. This structure has stood abandoned for years and, like the shotgun houses, continues to deteriorate. Built in 1912, the landmark served first as the residence of Alex Williams, a prominent local African-American business and property owner. In 1950, it was converted into the Greystone Hotel. Today, this resource needs immediate stabilization.
Equally important and integral to the revitalization of the Farish Street Neighborhood is the commercial district. This three-block stretch of turn-of-the-century and early twentieth-century storefronts was the heart of the African-American economic community until integration. Mostly abandoned and deteriorated, these storefronts are in need of immediate attention as well as a coordinated plan for their use.
2017 Update – No Progress
Six mayors and 20 years after the City of Jackson became involved in efforts to develop the Farish Street Historic District, in hopes of bringing it back to the bustling state of its heyday, the project sits at a standstill. Recent Mayor Tony Yarber has referred to the district as “an albatross.” In September of 2014, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sanctioned the City of Jackson, the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, and developers for misspending federal funds directed toward the development of the Farish Street Historic District. Work is at a halt and not scheduled to resume until December 2018, when the City of Jackson repays HUD $1.5 million.
However, the slow pace of development has not deterred all businesses from being a part of history. On July 23, 2015, Johnny T’s Bistro and Blues opened its doors at 538 North Farish Street.
Farish Street also lost one of its few remaining historic business. The classic soul food restaurant Peaches is now closed.
A new poorly planned housing development has further destroyed the historic fabric of what is left of the residential section of the Farish Street Historic District. There are now only a handful of contributing houses left in the historic district.