Image: Jimmy Flint

Jackson’s first suburban department store, the McRae’s at Meadowbrook Mart, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That’s according to a release today from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

On the recommendation of the Mississippi National Register Review Board, the Department of the Interior approved the addition of McRae’s department store at Meadowbrook and State. National Register properties enrich the understanding of local, state, and national history by representing significant events and developments, the contributions of notable people, and important types of buildings and architectural styles.

The first McRae’s store was opened in 1902 by Samuel P. McRae in downtown Jackson. By the 1940s, McRae’s was located on West Capitol Street and run by brothers Samuel P. McRae Jr. and Richard D. McRae. In 1955, the family decided to open a second store in the recently opened Meadowbrook Mart shopping center located in the Fondren neighborhood. That store became Jackson’s first full-service department store in a suburban setting.

However, the store’s modest size —at 12,000 square feet it was equivalent to one floor at the downtown store— meant that its selection of merchandise was limited. The Jackson firm Biggs, Weir, and Chandler (that also designed Meadowbrook Mart shopping center) was called upon to design a larger store. In 1962, a new two-story McRae’s was built on the same site with some 80,000 square feet, comprising more than sixty percent of the square footage of the entire complex and meeting the size requirements for an “anchor store,” the first one at a shopping center in the city of Jackson. The store closed in 2005. Venyu Solutions of Baton Rouge purchased the property in 2014.

Last week, in the quarterly OurFondren meeting at The Cedars, architect Roy Decker, who is working with Venyu Solutions, said of the building, “It’s a 60’s early modern building and took us telling the story of the McRae family to land it on the list.”

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is the official State Historic Preservation Office in Mississippi and handles all requests for National Register information and assistance. Congress established the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 as a list of federally recognized properties especially worthy of protection and preservation. Mississippi has more than 1,200 National Register properties, including archaeological sites, battlefields, bridges, buildings, cemeteries, forts, houses, and historic districts.

With special thanks to MDAH’s Stephanie Morrisey