Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel
Jackson, Mississippi (Hinds County)
Entrepreneur R.E. Dumas Milner launched the hotel in October 1960, naming it after a landmark Mississippi Gulf Coast hotel he owned as well. The hotel was important as a second home for state legislators, especially after the King Edward Hotel closed in 1965. It was moderately priced and within walking distance to the Capitol Building. The legislators could meet informally for meals, entertainment, and legislative negotiations. In 2001, House Ways and Means Chairman Billy McCoy said, “We have passed many important measures because of our conversations after hours in the Sun-n-Sand.”
In addition, its free form, space-age sign recalls the mid-twentieth century Las Vegas style atmosphere and hints at its reputation as the place to party in Jackson. When the legislature legalized liquor in 1965, the Sun-n-Sand was one of the first bars to open in Jackson. One legislative insider remembered that “a year before the state repealed its anti-liquor laws, the place was hopping.… I would go to the Legislature and see some of the lawmakers speaking against liquor … then I’d come back to the Sun-n-Sand and watch them take a drink. They were voting dry and drinking wet.”
The hotel closed in October 2001 and was boarded up shortly thereafter. Currently there are no plans for the property and it continues to sit vacant and deteriorating. The colorful history of this place will be lost if something is not done to save the building.
2015 Update – No Progress
The buildings are continuing to deteriorate with no plan in sight for saving the hotel complex. The space currently is being leased out to the State for parking for $76,000 a year for 160 parking spaces for State employees. Early this year, Governor Phil Bryant signed SB 2685, which allows the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration to purchase the old Wright and Ferguson Funeral Home property if funds are available. If the purchase is made, the State will use the funeral home instead as a state-owned parking lot for employees, allowing the State to terminate their lease for parking spaces at the Sun-n-Sand. Sidney Mack of Lamar Properties owns the Sun-n-Sand. There have been discussions surrounding the property, but as yet no clear plans.