Rippy Road and the Turkey Creek Community
North Gulfport, Mississippi (Harrison County)
The Rippy Road Community near the Regional Airport in Gulfport is a rarity in Mississippi. It is a post-Civil War African American community that retains much of its original architectural integrity. As Gulfport grew in the late 19th and early 20th century, African Americans were drawn to the area in search of jobs. They were largely segregated from areas near the Gulf, so the community of North Gulfport was established, and a neighborhood grew in nearby Rippy Road. Over the years, the old character of North Gulfport has been lost, but the small Rippy Road community has managed to hold true to its origins. Nearby Turkey Creek served the community as a recreation area since the African American residents were not allowed to use the beaches. Both of these tiny areas are threatened by encroaching development pressure.
2015 Update – In Progress
Since the 2001 designation, the Rippy Road community has experienced a mix of success, setbacks, and unexpected new challenges like Hurricane Katrina. One of the homes, the Benton House, is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Turkey Creek community was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district in 2009. Nevertheless, escalating threats of urban sprawl, deforestation, and environmental problems continually must be faced. 12 acres of wooded wetlands abutting to the south have been slated for a rental car parking and car wash facility for the airport. Even worse, a proposed connector road between I-10 and the airport would bisect Rippy Road as well as run through both the historic “Colored School” grounds and the cemetery. The proximity to active and inactive chemical plants like the EPA-cited Gulfcoast Creosote Co., pose additional obstacles to community survival. However, hopes have been lifted by support from historic preservationists and environmental justice advocates who learned of the plight of the area largely through MHT’s timely concern and 10 Most publicity.