Jackson: ‘The Help’ filming and other surprising stories

Jackson The Help Brents Drugs

Brent’s drugs needed few props to set people back in time with ‘The Help’. Jackson has many other interesting stories. (photo: Vickie D. King/ The Jackson Clarion-Ledger)

DealChicken spends a lot of time flitting round Jackson in search of the area’s best daily deals. Along the way, he’s managed to unearth some surprising stories. From locating the capital to Jackson, The Help filming, and so much more, the city is full of stories that need to be told! Here is a round up of items even DealChicken didn’t know about until recently.

Jackson may be the center of political activity in Mississippi, but it’s placement as the capital was controversial because it wasn’t technically at the center of Mississippi. One Whig politician in particular defined it as a “serious violation of principle”. Surveyors had considered the dead center of the state, but the large swamp made it impossible to settle there.

Author Kathryn Stockett’s roots in Jackson, Mississippi served as the backdrop for her best-selling novel The Help. When the fictional novel was ready to go big screen, directors had troubles finding locations in Jackson that still looked like they were from 1960. Much of the filming took place in Greenwood, but certain scenes did take place in Jackson: A mini mall got a retro makeover, a yoga studio was turned into a Shell Gas station, and Brent’s drugs and soda shop was turned into, well, Brent’s drugs and soda shop circa 1960 Jackson. The Help received four Oscar nominations.

Jackson native and Pulitzer Prize–winning author Eudora Welty lived in the same house at 1119 Pinehurst St. for 76 years. The house—now open to the public as the Eudora Welty House—is a Tudor Revival–style home designed by architect Wyatt C. Hedrick, based in Fort Worth, Texas. Welty, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Optimist’s Daughter, wrote most of her short stories and novels at this home.

Jackson’s Farish Street Neighborhood Historic District—a neighborhood near downtown that’s roughly bordered by Mill, Amite, Fortification and Jackson streets—is one of the few historically black neighborhoods on the National Historic Register. The neighborhood was once a center of cultural and economic activities and was home to several black cultural institutions, including the Alamo Theatre, where Nat King Cole and Cab Calloway performed in the 1940s and 1950s. Most Farish Street structures were built between 1890 and 1930.

Built in 1957, the house at 2332 Margaret Walker Alexander Drive was the home of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s first full-time state field secretary. Evers was gunned down in the driveway of his home in June 1963. The makers of the 1996 movie Ghosts of Mississippi—which told the story of Evers’ assassin, Byron De La Beckwith—used the Evers home during filming and even left behind movie-set furniture for use by the Medgar Evers Home Museum.

Ever wondered about the boxcar sitting behind the Old Capitol Museum and War Memorial Building? It’s a French Merci boxcar given to the state of Mississippi by France after World War II. After Americans donated millions of dollars' worth of goods to post-war relief efforts in France, the French reciprocated by sending 49 boxcars of gifts to the United States. Each of the 48 states in the U.S. at the time received a boxcar, and Washington, D.C., and Hawaii received one to share.

When you walk through the halls of the Old Capitol Museum, think about the historic legislation signed there: the 1839 Married Women’s Property Act, which gave women the right to own property separate from their husband’s; Mississippi’s 1861 secession from the Union; and the 1868 and 1890 state constitutions.

The Governor’s Mansion at 300 E. Capitol St. in downtown Jackson is the second-oldest continuously occupied governor’s residence in the United States. Construction of the mansion began in 1839, and the mansion’s architectural style is Greek Revival, one of the most popular styles of the time.

Jackson State University was officially designated as the Urban University of the State of Mississippi in 1979. The educational institution first opened its doors in Natchez in 1877 as Natchez Seminary. It moved to Jackson in 1882, and the name was changed to Jackson College in 1899. In 1956, the name was changed again, this time to Jackson State College. The college achieved university status in 1974.

Your favorite meteorologist can thank the female students of the Oakland Ladies’ Institute for Jackson’s first weather readings. The students of Susan S. Oakley took Jackson’s first known weather recordings June 1, 1849, as part of a Smithsonian Institution program. Regular observations at Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service) stations did not begin until 1931.

The next time someone forgets to silence the cell phone in church, you have the ability to do something about it! According to state law, private citizens may personally arrest any person that disturbs a church service. Worshipping in Mississippi is serious business. Mississippi has more churches per capita than any other state in the country.

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