by Sherry Lucas

Seabrook Paint Company of Mississippi has a 75-year-plus stake in the capital city, nearly 60 of it right in the heart of Fondren.

An anchor of the Fondren Strip on North State Street since 1958, the business first planted its Mississippi roots in 1940 with the arrival of C.P. Seabrook and family from Memphis. Those roots took hold and branched out, with operations now in the third-generation hands of his grandson, Patton Seabrook.

The company’s original location, south of the Old Capitol on State Street, burned in the 1950s and the founding father rebuilt the main location, with offices and warehouse, in 1960, Patton Seabrook said. But before that, the spot on Fondren Strip joined the fold when his grandfather bought the business that what was then Protective Paint Company.

The lineage continued with C.P. “Pat” Seabrook Jr., the oldest of three sons. Now, “he’s retired, but doing well, very active,” Patton Seabrook said of his dad. Patton Seabrook has worked for the company since he graduated from Millsaps College in 1988.

“So, this is definitely a family-owned business. My great-grandfather actually started the business in Memphis in 1910.” They’ve had a Seabrook Paint in Ridgeland since 1994. They had a Flowood location at one time, too, and we’re looking to move back into Rankin County,” he said.

Locally owned and operated, “I think we have a really good working knowledge of the city and the metro area and the people that live here and what their needs are and what they’re looking for,” Patton Seabrook said.

“My family’s been here so long, we know so many of the people. We went to either grade school with them, we went to high school with them, we went to college with them, we went to church with them, we were involved in Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or other civic activities, so we have a very good understanding and feel for how the metro area operates,” including how people want to be treated, he said.

That local touch is as inviting as the tables and chairs in the Fondren store, ready for consultations over paint chips and wallcovering books to find just the right shade, texture or pattern needed for the project at hand. Longtime employees, such as former manager Bill Thomae, who retired at the end of April after 37 years with Seabrook Paint, stand ready to help.

“Basically we just try to render the best service possible with the best product line offering that can be found in this business,” Patton Seabrook said. Seabrook Paint has long been a Benjamin Moore distributor/retailer, supplying and stocking the full line from high-end retail to commercial to industrial product offerings.

Wallcovering was used more extensively in the 1970s through 1990s and its higher-end segment is still popular, Patton Seabrook said. With the need for an installer adding to the cost, its less frequent use down South may be due to economics. “A lot of people can buy two or 3 gallons of paint and do it themselves. Wallcovering’s a little different.

“We are seeing the interest in it come back to some degree,” particularly as a decorative tool for special points of interest, such as a dining room, master bath or entry foyer. “It lends itself to a certain look that nothing else will give you,” he said, predicting a more cyclical uptick, especially if the economy continues to progress.

He’s witnessed the 1980s “mauving of America,” as he chuckles about it now, and the trend of faux finishing that followed. And while Fondren is fairly traditional, he’s noticed a boldness among millennials. “They’re not afraid to make a decision and try something different.”

For a man surrounded by thousands of paint colors on a daily basis, he’s surprisingly quick to name a favorite for wall color: Wythe Blue, part of Benjamin Moore’s Historic Color collection, and the color of his dining room.

Seabrook Paint’s oldest location has become a part of Fondren’s history. “In the Fondren, Woodland Hills, Belhaven area – the older part of town – I would think if we are not the oldest, continuously owned businesses in this area, we are one of the two or three.

“So, we feel very loyal to the area, and our customers have been very loyal to us.”