Friday, October 6, 2017

Remembering the Sears building

Yesterday was a sad day for a Jackson landmark, the Eudora Welty Library.  Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney minced no words and said the building should be condemned. The bricks are falling off of the walls, mortar is crumbling, the second floor is nearly ruined by a leaking roof, and there is raw sewage in the basement.  A far cry from when Sears opened the building  to much applause on March 21, 1947.  However, JJ aims not to mourn the building but memorialize it as it once was. JJ reached back into the archives of the newspaper and posted some of the building's past glory below. Enjoy.

Credit: CNN



 












52 comments:

Anonymous said...

I remember shopping there with my parents as a child. Sad how Jackson has decayed.

Anonymous said...

10:35 - I agree with you. I realize things change, but I have great memories of the Jackson that all of us used to know and enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I remember at seven years old my mother dragging me and my younger sister to "the new store." The reason I remember it so well is there were two water fountains in the back. I jumped up and took a drink and my mother was horrified. She scared the hell out of me by jerking me back. There was a sign which I couldn't read: "Colored Only."

Anonymous said...

I haven't been in the EW Library in years, but it's indefensible for those "in charge" to have allowed a roof leak to damage / destroy the 2nd floor (along with allowing sewage to leak into the basement! WTH is going on with this city? There was a HUGE hailstorm that came through in 2013, one that was significant enough to warrant the replacement of MANY roofs of buildings within eyesight of the library, as well as others throughout the city. What, does the city not carry property insurance?

I realize the last few administrations have definitely had different overall "objectives" for the city, but is the goal to just let the city fall down around them as they "get theirs?" What advantage is it to run a city that's become utter crap?

Messick said...

The farm store had it all, by the looks of it. Outfit your mules, put a new roof on the barn, and get Momma churnin'!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know when the Sears building close and it became the library?

Anonymous said...

I remember many a weekend researching and studying at the EW, and even after I graduated I spent a number of hours reading and using their computer center. Such a shame to lose an important part of downtown Jackson due to incompetent administration of the roofing project by Public Works. When is this City going to get its act together?

Anonymous said...

What will they do with the contents of the Library?

Anonymous said...

Typical government BS. The city would condemn a commercial, or residential property, for failure to keep up with code. Let the grass get too high and they cite you and take you to court. Meanwhile most cities in MS can't even keep major intersections free of debris and they let their buildings deteriorate.

Anonymous said...


My first trip to Sears was in 1953, I was 10 years old at the time and believe it or not I can still smell the roasted nuts in the candy area when you entered. What a great city we "HAD"---it reminded me of Mayberry, USA. Those more simple days are gone and will never return.
Jackson was a model city---I wish I could say the same thing now !!!

The library is a sign of things to come------WOW !!!!

Anonymous said...

@11:32

Sears moved to Metro Center when it opened in February 1978. I'm not sure how long after that the library moved into the building.

It is so sad that Jackson may lose another landmark building. I hope that the structural problems will be corrected and the building preserved, whether it be as the library or some other use.

Anonymous said...

Interesting other story up there-- The death of Mrs. Fondren, from the same "pioneer" Fondren family and 1st home built in the area that was demolished just last week to build a no-tell motel.

Anonymous said...

The deterioration of Jackson is not always due to lack of funds, sometimes the city just doesn't care to keep things up.

Louis LeFleur said...

11:17, the roof was replaced just last year. The job was incomplete according the the library director, but apparently the city failed to act on that and just let the damage pile up.

Like many, I have very fond memories of the old Sears as a child, though we didn't move here till 1962. Toyland at Christmas and, like 11:59, I can still smell those freshly roasting nuts at the candy/nut counterr, can still see it in my mind.

Does anyone know if there was a Sears & Roebuck in Jackson before this one opened in 1947, and if so, where it was?

Anonymous said...

How ironic this article is. I did not know that the Sears opened in 1947. Even my 81-year-old father who has lived here all his life did not know this date. The irony in this story is if I wanted to read the microfilm of these articles the place I would have to go is the same place -- and I could not do it because it was closed. How about moving some things back to the old library which is still unoccupied across the street??

Anonymous said...

This thread demonstrates the decrepitude of the reader base. What in heck is a Sears? God, what a bunch of geezers! The nursing home cafeteria must be closed for the holiday.

Anonymous said...

I was in the library last year or so. Sure, it wasn't the fanciest place but it didn't seem like it should have been condemned! It will re-open I'm sure. I'm holding off on the pity party for right now.

Burke said...

11:59 thinks Jackson was "a model city." My God!!

At least the racism is open for a change.

Kingfish said...

I love to post historical stuff but let's not kid ourselves, there is a large group of people who don't have fond memories of a certain time and justifiably so.

Anonymous said...


WOW KINGFISH, I've lived here since 1943 and I can say without hesitation that I have never seen a Black mistreated in any form.
A lot of the problems that Blacks face are brought on by their own actions.

That's it for me---no more !!!!!

Anonymous said...

@12:53

There was a Sears in Jackson before this one opened. It was on Capitol St. I've seen pictures of it but I'm not sure of the exact location.

Anonymous said...

Yes Seats closed in 1978 when the new one opened at Metrocenter.It was a bad location. Little parking and bad traffic on north state street. We prefered Zayre and Woolco in those days.

Anonymous said...

My Dad used to drop me off so I could play on the escalator, thinking back, wonder what he was doing.

Anonymous said...

Response to 2:23: ironic comment is ironic.

Anonymous said...

@2:23 It sounds like either you didn't get out much or didn't care to really look at what was happening outside your bubble (you weren't alone).

Anonymous said...

11:32 CITY OF JACKSON DOESNT HAVE THE MONEY TO CUT THE INTERSTATE GRASS, MUCH LESS REPAIR A LANDMARK BUILDING

Anonymous said...

3:15: Pretty sure that’s MDOT. At least, the property is owned by MDOT.

Anonymous said...

Model town. Go hear all about your model town at the new civil rights museum.

Anonymous said...

11:10: You couldn't read. How'd you know what the sign said. Are you saying your Mother was a lowlife, hating, racist White bitch?
12:26: Throw your stones, asshole. Why didn't you buy those properties and preserve them like you think they should have been?
Burke: You make me want to puke. Back then, you could leave your house unlocked, windows open (most people had no air conditioning), car unlocked. You didn't have to worry about being invaded, robbed, jacked, shot, mugged. The only thing that's changed between now and then is the demographic.
Those of us that grew up then have fond memories of the City. Now Jackson is regularly rated in the top 10 for crime in the country.
At one time, this was a nice place to live and raise your family. Now, those places are elsewhere. As stated before, the only thing that changed was the demographic.
All you guilt ridden whites can kiss my ass.

Anonymous said...

So....there WAS a Mr. Fondren. Mr. Dave Fondren.

Anonymous said...

There were no signs that 'said' 'colored only'. There were many that said Colored and White, or White Only. I think the South got that idea from the north.

Anonymous said...

@6:10 'Bout time to take the next dose of your schizophrenic medicine. You contradicted yourself. Twice.

Anonymous said...

Let First Baptist Church or the MS Baptist Convention purchase the library.

Kingfish said...

Nothing to purchase. Needs to be torn down. It's of no use to anyone.

Anonymous said...

I also drank from the “colored” water fountain. I asked my mother what was the difference and she said try it and see. I did and there was no difference. There is no question that segregation was wrong but as a child growing up it was not something that was an issue. Yparents taught me to treat people fairly and with respect black or white. I still try to do that today. Unfortunately political correctness has become so involved even simple statements can be twisted as disrespect to some ones sex, race,religion etc. the pendulum has swung but I’m afraid it’s swung to far and we are in a state of severe imbalance.

Topo Gigio said...

How in hell did a mournful tribute to a fondly-remembered old(ish) public building get re-jiggered and transmogrified into another HUGELY boring, tiresome yammer about race? If I were not a racist before, I would surely become one after reading this Johnny-one-note site for a while. Thank you, commenters who mentioned the Proustian roasted-nut memories, and a pox on you people who felt duty-bound to trot out the "oh, but those awful Colored water fountains!" lament. Yeah, yeah, we know, we know. Lucky for us all, black, white, yellow, pinto, albino, whatever, that we can just buy a plastic bottle of H2O now. Giant leap for mankind. Bye-bye Sears-cum-Welty library...sic transit gloria.

anonymous said...

Sears was located on Capitol Street in the block between Lamar and West before it moved to North State.

Anonymous said...

Topo for the win!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Jackson in the 50's and 60's. I remember cutting yards in the summer of 1965 and doing any other job I could do to save money for a 3 speed bicycle. I would be riding it to school that fall. I saved up 40 bucks, which in 1965 was a lot of money for a 12 year old kid. I remember the day that my father took me to that Sears store to buy that 3 speed bike. Rode it to school the next 3 years. Wish I had managed to keep it all of these years. My family shopped at that Sears store for just about everything. I loved growing up in Jackson. A shame the city is what it is now.

Anonymous said...

Topo, you must not be from Mississippi. If you lived there, you'd realize that people obsess over the most boring and inconsequential things, stubbornly oblivious to all the thrills and possibilities around them.

Attacking each other, and arguing over the irrelevant and inane, is how they occupy their minds. This is why people leave Mississippi. And it's why WE left.

Anonymous said...

And 2:13, what Garden of Eden did you relocate to? We are not boring and we are not inconsequential. You sound as if you dislike this state. I dont know if you are from here originally or not but don’t categorize many of us in the image you have of us. Your opinion doesn’t matter. On another note, if you dislike us so much why do you troll this site?

Sincerely,

A Good Ole Jackson, MS resident


Oh, by the way, the city name nor can any county name be changed to make any of you SJW’s happy. Stick that in your pipe (or bong or hooka) and smoke it.

Anonymous said...

I remember going to Sears. I was so little, when we took the steps down into the lower level, I could barely make it.

Another store we frequented, was Miller's on Ellis Ave. One time I needed to take a leak and just decided to go right there in the fishing pole section! My dad told my mom to "handle it" and he disappeared!

Anonymous said...

@10:37 it probably wasn't an "issue" for you because you weren't the one who didn't have a choice about which fountain to drink from. You would think at this point the idea that segregation was a benign occurrence wouldn't still be an issue.

Anonymous said...

"WOW KINGFISH, I've lived here since 1943 and I can say without hesitation that I have never seen a Black mistreated in any form."

Medgar Evers


Google much?

Anonymous said...

I guess I will cherish this book that I checked out over a week ago at Welty. Even in its water damaged state, from the second floor. [Note: The book could have been this way from the last person who was reading this book, but it wasn't far from leaks there.]

Anonymous said...

So those drawings look like 3rd Reich propaganda. It's sad that EW is in such bad shape. It was a nice library 10-15 years ago.

Alpha Storm said...

Level the dang building, and build an new library. plan and simple and put up a marker say the was the site of the old Sears. What next we gonna remember the great flood of 79.

Messick said...

October 8, 2017 at 12:39 said: "..drawings look like 3rd Reich propaganda."

Good Lawd... People dressed up to go shopping back then and they dressed in the style of the time. Advertising then was mostly hand-drawn, too, as high quality photography could be pricey. Like the kids say, SMDH.


Anonymous said...

Someone asked when the Sears store became the library. I'm fairly certain that happened when Mertrocenter opened in 1979...

Thomas Townsend said...

My father was merchandise mgr there. Total time at Sears 35 or so years. Loved locking up the store on Friday nights. We got to play with everything in there. Raided the candy department.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty certain that, as much as it would cost, leveling the building and starting over would be significantly more expensive than properly fixing the existing problems. The structure itself is in no danger of collapse. Some bricks falling does not mean every single exterior wall is going to collapse.

All this is the result of gross negligence. The city has done next to nothing to maintain the building. Extremely, almost criminal deferred maintenance is the culprit here.

Kingfish said...

Don't forget the mold.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.


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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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