Fondren is Jackson’s crown jewel, reinventing itself — and the city — one person at a time. As an arts district in Jackson, Mississippi, Fondren is a hub of creative expression through music, visual and culinary arts, an area unsurpassed by any other in the state. Want to know how to get the most out of a visit here? Read on…
1. Restaurant/ bar hop in “Mississippi’s culinary capital”
We coined that phrase several years back for a reason. Nearly two-dozen locally owned restaurants, bars, bakeries and coffee shops are here within a four-block area. Classic American burgers and hand-spun shakes, Mediterranean fare, competition barbecue, craft cocktails, French pastries, casual fine dining, tapas, nitro coffee, gelato, pizza – the list goes on. There’s something for almost every taste here. Park and walk – a cocktail in one spot, on to an appetizer, somewhere else for the main course, yet another spot for something sweet.
2. See a world-class musical act
Since 2011, Fondren has sounded better, thanks to the shows that promoter Arden Barnett brings to Duling Hall, a former elementary school auditorium called “one of the best rooms in the state.” From rock to rap, country to gospel – even punk, experimental and indie music – the Duling Stage has hosted The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Bacon Brothers, Paula Cole, Robert Earl Keen, Snarky Puppy and more.
3. Get a ticker tune up – or anything else medical taken care of
The first-ever human heart transplant happened here in 1963. And since then, wonders of medical science have abounded at one of four hospitals making up the southern core of the neighborhood. The University of Mississippi Medical Center – the state’s only academic medical center, Batson Children’s Hospital – the only children’s facility in the state, St. Dominic’s and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital call Fonden home.
4. Shop unique boutiques
Our shop owners don’t report to stockholders. They live in the community and know their customers by name. They also know what shoppers like. From fashion (and more fashion) to quirky tees and a “consciously curated” general and art supply store, Fondren is home to a handful of unique retail establishments. Grab a new outfit, a floral arrangement, new kicks and more on a short jaunt around the historic business district.
5. Explore Fondren’s wild side
Yes, Fondren is in the city, but, to see local landscapes may give you thoughts otherwise. From Felder Rushing‘s gardens on Pennsylvania Avenue to Suzie Cranston’s dozens of birdhouses on Avondale, these off-the-beaten-path stops give you a better view of the eclectic and artistic tastes of some of Fondren’s residents.
6. See a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece
On Glenway Drive in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, find Fountainhead – also known as the J. Willis Hughes House – a Frank Lloyd Wright “Usonian” design built in the early 1950s. Now owned by an architect, the very private Robert Parker Adams (you’ll only get an outside “street-side” view), the house, as part of its design, has no 90-degree angles. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.
7. Take a seat next to a big-time author
Literally, slide across the big green sofa at indie book stalwart Lemuria Books at Banner Hall and sidle up with literary greats several times a week! Angie Thomas (The Hate You Give), John Grisham (The Firm) and Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing) make regular stops here touring their latest best sellers.
8. Meet the makers
Revitalized in the early 2000s, Fondren became a haven for up-and-coming creatives. Today, more established in nature, Fondren’s creators continue to churn out masterpiece after masterpiece, from small works on canvas to large corporate installations (they even create amazing magazine covers!) William Goodman, Ginger Williams Cook, Richard McKey, Jason Jenkins, Roz Roy, Elizabeth Robinson and Chane, among countless others, make this a beautiful neighborhood. Other artists can be seen in places like Fondren Art Gallery and Brown’s Fine Art & Framing.