JSU’s Gowdy Washington Addition Exhibition to Highlight One of Jackson's First Black Communities

July 28, 2023

Janice Adams Washington Addition resident
Janice Adams, Washington Addition resident
Credit: Jackson State University

Jackson State University’s Office of Community Engagement will host the Gowdy Washington Addition Exhibition Friday, July 28, at the downtown campus, 101 Capitol Street, at 5:30 pm. The exhibit features artifacts, oral histories, vintage photos, and more, paying homage to one of the first African American communities to develop in the city of Jackson.

“We're excited about it. It's going to be one of those events that you don't want to miss, and we can't think of a better way to honor the Washington Addition community,” said Heather Denne, Ph.D., director of JSU’s Office of Community Engagement..

Historically known as Gowdy, Mississippi, the now Washington Addition was a bustling town in the 1900s. Located south of Jackson State, the community is bordered by Lynch, Hattiesburg, and Dansby Streets, alongside the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad and west of Terry Road.

It was home of the Delta Cottonseed Oil Plant that was owned by the town’s namesake, W.B. Gowdy. It also had a mayor and post office in 1915, as well as businesses, grocery stores, cafes, and establishments that evoked pride in Black people. Many citizens were building houses and owning land and property for the first time.

Neighborhood Association President for the Gowdy Washington community, Felicia McClinton, is thrilled that history will be shared.

“I'm really excited and thrilled that we're able to display our neighborhood. We were able to get some pictures of the neighborhood, before and after, and it's just good to see where you came from and what progressed over the years,” said McClinton, whose family settled in Washington Addition in the 1930s. “I have heard from other neighborhood associations that are excited to come to see what we have done, and they want to do the same thing. I hope everyone comes out and sees it.”

The exhibition will feature photos of original buildings and structures in the neighborhood and surrounding areas, including Campbell College, Jim Hill High School, and Jackson State. The photos will display the cost of living during this time and reintroduce moments in history, such as the Zachary T. Hubert Health Clinic, the second hospital in the state of Mississippi for African Americans.

The clinic was located at the current work-study office on JSU’s campus and is named after the first African American and third president of Jackson State College. It offered hospital services for Blacks and led to the birth of many Black babies for over 30 years. The exhibit will also include artifacts such as an original high school diploma from 1920 for former Jackson State President Jacob L. Reddix.

Complementing the historical blast to the past is the recreation of a 1950s juke joint. Refreshments will be offered by Taylor’s Candy, a prominent African American candy store that was original to the community.

Partners and collaborators include the Washington Addition Neighborhood Association, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, JSU’s Division of University Communications, and the JSU Department of Archives and History.

The exhibit is open to the public.