Eudora Welty Library in Jackson, Mississippi to be Demolished for New Green Space

The historic Eudora Welty Library in Jackson, MS, will be demolished to make way for a new public park, as the building has fallen into disrepair. MDAH plans to collaborate with the city to find a new home for the library.

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Eudora Welty Library in Jackson, Mississippi to be Demolished for New Green Space

Eudora Welty Library in Jackson, Mississippi to be Demolished for New Green Space

The Eudora Welty Library building in Jackson, Mississippi, which was originally constructed in 1946 as a Sears department store and later became the downtown public library, has been approved for demolition by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH). The building, named after acclaimed Mississippi author Eudora Welty, has fallen into serious disrepair in recent years. "Part of the library flooded in 2013 after a storm damaged the roof, and it has faced expensive problems with its air conditioning system in 2022 and 2023," according to MDAH.

The City of Jackson has decided to no longer maintain the deteriorating structure. "The City of Jackson had declared it would no longer maintain the property," MDAH stated. Following the demolition, MDAH plans to establish a public park and green space in the library's place near the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum.

MDAH has expressed a commitment to collaborating with the City of Jackson and the Jackson/Hinds Library Board to address the situation, including allocating grant funds for the adaptive reuse of a downtown historic building to accommodate the library's needs. "MDAH plans to work with the City of Jackson and the Jackson/Hinds Library Board to mitigate the loss of the historic building, potentially by providing grant funds for the adaptive reuse of a downtown historic building to house the library," the department said in a statement.

The new park, which will be the third public green space in downtown Jackson, is being funded by a $1 million donation from retired businessman Noble T. Crigler and additional funding from the Mississippi Legislature. MDAH acquired the library property in 2024 with plans to replace the building with a park that will align with the original layout for Jackson from 1822. A national firm specializing in park design is assisting in the creation of a vista between the Two Mississippi Museums and State Street, which will connect to the Museum Trail.

Why this matters: The demolition of the Eudora Welty Library building and its replacement with a new public park highlight the challenges of preserving historic structures while also addressing issues of urban blight and deterioration. The collaboration between MDAH, the City of Jackson, and the library board to find an alternative location for the library demonstrates the importance of balancing historic preservation with the practical needs of the community.

The Eudora Welty Library closed its doors in February, with its books, furniture, and other materials being put into storage. A new Welty Library branch will be opened in downtown Jackson using a $3.7 million federal grant. The demolition of the old library building is expected to begin by June 1, making way for the construction of the new public park and green space that officials hope will be an asset to Mississippi's capital city.

Key Takeaways

  • Eudora Welty Library building in Jackson, MS approved for demolition.
  • Building has faced structural issues and flooding, city can no longer maintain it.
  • MDAH plans to establish a public park and green space in its place.
  • MDAH to provide grant funds for adaptive reuse of a downtown historic building for the library.
  • New $3.7M Welty library branch to open in downtown Jackson using federal grant.