Laurel-Jones County Welcome Center breaks ground

A historic building will soon get a makeover to welcome guests to the City Beautiful with southern hospitality.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAUREL, Miss. (WDAM) - A historic building will soon get a makeover to welcome guests to the City Beautiful with southern hospitality.

The City of Laurel held a groundbreaking ceremony for the future home of the Laurel-Jones Count Welcome Center.

Ailrick Young, executive director of the Laurel Housing Authority, said local architect, Michael McKinnon, designed the center using remnants of the original building structures built in 1940.

“(McKinnon) has a good sense of the historical significance and just the importance of the area,” said Young. “He suggested that we try to use some of the materials salvaged from the other buildings that were taken down. That way, we can pay homage to the original building and, just overall, make it a unique project.”

Known for its rich history, Laurel is home to some of the oldest affordable housing units and many historic sites. As a result, the Mississippi Department of History and Archives designated the area as a historic district.

“When we started thinking about how to save some of the building and some of the reminiscence, we were trying to think how we can purpose the building to fit the entire community,” said Young.

The welcome center will cost about $1.5 million and take 10 months to complete.

Young said the goal is to create a place to greet visitors, and he is thankful for the partnerships and support they’ve received for the project.

“Because of the location - the rich history here, the historic site - it’s ideally located to point visitors to downtown and some notable locations,” said Young.

He said one particular HGTV show had brought tourists from all over the United States to visit the area. He wants that excitement to continue and benefit the community, city and county.

“We have to give the show Home Town a lot of credit,” said Young. “Due to the success of Ben and Erin (Napier) and the show, it has generated where now Laurel is a tourist destination.”

The welcome center will feature information about the area’s notable people, places, history and culture.

Copyright 2022 WDAM. All rights reserved.

Want more WDAM 7 news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.