Rosalind McCoy Sibley asked that question, and it needs an answer (Farish Street-A Slightly Different Perspective, Jackson Advocate, 2015). I do not have it, and apparently, neither does any one else who has followed the “miscalculated missteps” of the project, or perhaps had a role in developing those missteps. I am sure there are plenty of opinions about it, and likely depending on whether one thinks it should have been about preserving a historic district or developing an entertainment district.
After all, development is generally that–developing something, and the something is intended to make money for the developer. There is possibly nothing wrong with that plan (making money) as long as it does not come with the consequences of destroying the way that residents make money (the shops and businesses that were there prior to ‘development’) or live (homes razed to make room for something deemed more desirable), and the ensuing displacement of the community. The ‘development plan’ as thus carried out seems to have done all of this: at worst, demolishing buildings and destroying businesses that were still in operation, and at best, creating hardships and hurdles for those that have hung on and continue trying to hang on, through infrastructure disruption. And yes, razing housing and displacing community. Sadly, or perhaps even more strongly wording it, disgustingly, there is essentially nothing to show for it that has occurred as a result of the ‘project’.
In completing a research project on the African American Travel Guides (in particular, Victor Green’s Travel Guide, but there were others in use throughout the years of segregation and Jim Crow laws), I was photographing remaining extant sites on Farish Street that had appeared in the Green Book. There are not many of them left. Another compounding factor is that street names and numbers sometimes are revised over the years. Records differ as to what was where and when. I go back to the newspaper archives frequently, and that supplies additional perspectives to the business of life on Farish Street.
City Barber Shop is identified by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory, as the building at 600 N. Farish Street, c. 1923, with an “original transom” and “stepped parapet roofline.” The originally-identified City Barber Shop in Victor Green’s guide was listed at 127 N. Farish, the first block of the “Mecca of Black Business” in Mississippi. Historic photographs reveal a picture not many people would recognize. The City Barber Shop of Green’s guide is the storefront visible in the second from left building on the right side of the photograph below. Ruth McCoy Sibley, writing about the demolition of the 100 block of N. Farish, references Griff Dixon in connection with the City Barber Shop. Sweet and Bradley (2013) called it the “largest African American Barber Shop in Jackson.”
There were a number of barber shops that operated on Farish Street in addition to the City Barber Shop at 127 N. Farish. John Edgar Conic and Albert Shaw owned and operated City Barber Shop at 615 N. Farish from 1950-1975 and Clarence Gray and John Clay operated a barber shop at 414 Farish in the 1930s (Tucker & Savage, 2008).
When did the focus change from ‘the Farish Street Historic District’?