JXN Has That? Unexpected Finds In The Capital City
It might be easy to overlook the uniqueness of Jackson, Mississippi at first glance.
But a recent conversation about what we don’t have revealed quite a lengthy list of what we do have. To be fair, some of these can be found in other cities. But, some are a JXN one-of-a-kind. Here are ten things you may not realize – or believe – that JXN offers.
There’s no sign, no grand fanfare to show for it. But, behind the door, just past the kitchen, The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs is a thousand square-foot “speakeasy” lounge with cleverly curated craft cocktails and a laid-back vibe.
The Apothecary centers around the idea of the pre-Prohibition craft cocktail movement with an added twist: the place is also a nod to the days of old when soda fountains – like the one still in existence upfront at Brent’s – were the remedy for a hard pill to swallow.
Syrups and tonic waters are made in-house, and the menu is a rotating collection of bartenders’ favorites.
A Frank Lloyd Wright House
Known for his unique style of “organic” architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright designed more than 1,000 structures in his lifetime. One of those is the J. Willis Hughes house, also known as “Fountainhead” on Glen Way Drive in the Fondren neighborhood, built in the early 1950s. On the National Register of Historic Places since 1980, it was designed in Wright’s Usonian style, said to be a “T’ or “Y” design.
The home is the private residence of JXN architect Robert Parker Adams (whose offices are in the former Greyhound Bus Station in downtown) and has never been open to the public.
Fun fact: the house has no 90-degree angles inside. See the amazingly unique floor plan here.
A Dormant Volcano
This sounds like something out of a science fiction novel, but, apparently, it’s true and the reason foundations are so shifty here: seventy-five million years ago, Jackson (as we know it today) sat on a volcanic island. About 2,900 feet below East Pascagoula Street at I-55, it’s said that an extinct volcano had its beginnings. Fascinating! Today the Mississippi Coliseum sits on this very spot.
An Escape Room
Problem-solving meets small-group fun, escape rooms are the rage all over the country and JXN has one downtown, 601 Escape Rooms! Themed rooms provide various clues and each game has a time limit. Bragging rights are up for grabs – and a plan to visit again soon: room themes change, so there’s always something new.
A Museum of Muslim Cultures
The first of its kind in the U.S., the award-winning International Museum of Muslim Cultures – located at the Arts Center of Mississippi – is dedicated to educating the public about Islamic history and culture.
The IMMC contains two permanent exhibitions: “The Legacy of Timbuktu” features ancient Timbuktu manuscripts uncovering Africa’s literate culture and celebrating a glorious age of learning and empire-building and “Islamic Moorish Spain: Its Legacy to Europe and the West” features artifacts and information on Muslim rule in Spain, its contributions to philosophy, science, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, agriculture, commerce, architecture and the arts. A temporary exhibit, “Muslims with Christians & Jews: Covenants & Coexistence,” is located on Capitol Street at Farish Street.
Float your cares away at Jax-Zen Healing Arts Center in Jackson’s Midtown neighborhood, Mississippi’s first wellness center dedicated to floatation therapy. Experience total mind and body relaxation in an anti-gravity environment where benefits include relief of stress, pain, insomnia, depression, addiction, PTSD. Floating is also said to enhance creativity, productivity and meditation.
It may seem intimidating, but you have to try it to understand it. It’s amazing.
A Quadrennial Ballet Competition
USA IBC is the quadrennial, two-week “Olympic-style” competition for top young dancers and a major stepping stone toward a professional career – and Jackson is one of four places worldwide that hosts it.
Competitors from all over the world vie for gold, silver and bronze medals, cash prizes and company contracts. The audience is filled with company directors interested in hiring dancers, and for this reason, many dancers leave with jobs–possibly the grandest prize of all.
Founded in 1978 by Thalia Mara (yes, the namesake of Thalia Mara Hall) the competition only happens in Varna, Bulgaria; Helsinki, Finland; and Moscow, Russia (it returns here in 2023).
The Longest-Running Record Label in America
Since 1968, Malaco Music Group – located on Northside Drive, known as the “last soul company," - was the first state-of-the-art recording facility in Mississippi. From Dorothy Moore’s “Misty Blue” to Z.Z. Hill’s “Down Home Blues,” 60+ Grammy nominations have come out of Malaco.
Paul Simon has recorded here. So have The Pointer Sisters and Phil Ramone. Malaco also owns the rights to the Muscle Shoals Studios catalog which includes Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” among many other soul classics.
A Full-Scale, Miniature Model of the Mississippi River
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 (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.
A Burgeoning Pedestrian Trail System
Whether on foot or two wheels, JXN is adding miles and miles to our pedestrian pathways, both paved and natural ones. From the new Museum Trail to the Metro Jackson Parkway (connecting downtown to Jackson State University), LeFleur’s Bluff State Park hiking trail, State Street multi-use path and the recently paved West JXN “Little J trail,” it’s time you started exploring. See more (and additional outdoor activities) on this map created by JXN outdoor enthusiast Andy Hilton.