Off the Beaten Path In Jackson

Jackson, Mississippi is full of interesting attractions and historic sites, but these off-the-beaten path, creatively-driven spots should be on your radar when you come to the City With Soul.

Andy Young
Pearl River Glass founder Andy Young in his Midtown studio
Credit: Find It In Fondren

Pearl River Glass Studio – Midtown

What started as a single artist’s desire to broaden the appeal and sensibilities of stained glass has since become the center of an art world revolution. Pearl River Glass Studio — now 45 years in the making — specializes in stained class applications both big and small.

The 10,000-square-foot facility is open for tours so that visitors can glimpse the scope and artistry necessary to bend light into abstract expressions and statements of the sun’s glory.

Pearl River’s work can be found all over the world, but by stopping in to visit, you can take a little piece away with you for your home.

a painting of a turtle
Gavin Bird's murals enhance The Slab, a Mill Street DIY skatepark

Mural Hunting at The Slab – Downtown

Take an old grocery warehouse site, long abandoned, buildings torn down, and turn it into something amazing? If you ask skateboard enthusiasts in town what they could do with it, they’d offer you back The Slab, a DIY skate park at 455 North Mill Street with plenty of space for large scale murals.

The artist behind most of the works is Gavin Bird who, since childhood, has created drawings, paintings and three-dimensional pieces. His work usually revolves around living things – animals and landscapes – but has been known to offer tribute to local legends and institutions as well.

Use the Google public art map (linked above) to navigate to The Slab and find other murals around town.

two people talk among rows of crops under w white tunnel
Cindy Ayers-Elliott's Foot Print Farms is a point of pride for West Jxn.
Credit: Drew Dempsey/Tell Agency

Foot Print Farms – West Jackson

Foot Print Farms is the largest urban farm in the state of Mississippi, and its existence is indebted to Cindy Ayers, its founder. Foot Print Farms, located in West Jackson, helps train farmers throughout the state to work with communities and help address the issue of food deserts in Mississippi.

The 68 acre specialty crop vegetable and livestock farm has a focus on agritourism for community development, hosting community events, chef-lead dinners and, often, an urban artisan market, Magnolia Sunset Markets, co-founded by Ayers.

Foot Print Farms also serves as an educational incubator for teaching young farmers.

Turntables in the foreground with a man in red; customers at the counter around him in a store.
Phillip Rollins - DJ Young Venom - owns Offbeat in Jackson's Midtown neighborhood.

Offbeat – Midtown

Billed as an “alternative culture” store in Jackson’s Midtown neighborhood, OffBeat started in May 2014 as an idea and an attempt to build community through a store and art gallery.

“I learned how to read from comics and being a DJ… they just mesh so well together,” said owner Phillip “DJ Young Venom” Rollins. “I felt like (comics) wouldn’t be strong enough as a store by itself, so, let me combine the two and add in some designer toys and a gallery wall for minority artists.”

Watch Offbeat’s Facebook for upcoming events.

colorful birdhouses
The font yard of Suzie Cranston at 1016 Avondale in Fondren is loaded with bird houses and other yard art

Suzie Cranston’s birdhouse garden – Fondren

Find the house in Fondren with over 100 birdhouses in the front yard – and you’ve stumbled upon the grieving process of Suzie Cranston.

When her son Peck died nearly thirty years ago, a garden sign gifted to her read “peace begins in the garden” and has since inspired the three-decade art project.

There are nearly twenty churches and a replica of her childhood home among the purely decorative and rarely functional birdhouses, other than the ones that “occasionally house a rogue squirrel.”

Merci Train at the old GM&O Depot, downtown Jackson

Merci Train – Downtown

One of the few remaining Merci Trains sent to the United States in 1949 is here in Jackson.

In 1947, Washington Post columnist Drew Pearson launched a grassroots effort to help war recovery in France and Italy. Over $40 million worth of supplies was collected from across the United States, eventually filling more than 700 railroad cars. The train became known as the American Friendship Train, and the boxcars arrived in Europe in December 1947.

See it up close and in person behind the Old Capitol Museum at the former GM&O railroad depot building.

A patch of concrete that, upon closer view, is a guided model of the Mississippi River basin
The MS River Basin model at Buddy Butts Park
Credit: Drew Dempsey/Tell Agency

Mississippi Basin Model at Buddy Butts Park – South Jackson

A fantastic piece of JXN history, yet so few know of its existence, the Army Corps of Engineers’ Mississippi River Basin Model at Buddy Butts Park (off McRaven Road) features eight miles of miniature streams. It’s the largest small-scale model ever built and represents 15,000 miles of rivers and 41% of the United States to study the effects of river flooding on the country. Fascinating!

Explore more about the model with the Friends of the Mississippi River Basin Model.

Paul Wolf

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Paul Wolf