Meridian’s rich history commences in 1831, just a year after the Choctaw Indians consented to relinquish their Mississippi territories as per the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. The area saw its first settler in Richard McLemore from Virginia, who enticed newcomers by granting free land. The year 1855 marked a significant turning point with the introduction of railways, securing Meridian’s promising future.
Amidst the turbulence of the Civil War, Meridian played host to a Confederate arsenal and a military hospital. General Sherman’s forces wreaked havoc on the city’s railroads and its environs, leading to his famous statement, “Meridian no longer exists.” Remarkably, the railroad tracks were rebuilt in just 26 days, defying the destruction. Meridian not only rebounded but thrived.
The movement of timber and cotton along the rails played a pivotal role in Meridian’s fortune, propelling the city into an era known as the Golden Age. Between 1890 and 1930, Meridian proudly stood as the state’s largest city and a trailblazer in manufacturing. Much of the iconic skyline we see today took shape during this era. Among the notable landmarks, Meridian’s Carnegie Library was constructed in 1912 and has transformed into the Meridian Museum of Art, enriching the city’s cultural tapestry.
Also prominent is the Grand Opera House, which opened its doors in 1890 adjacent to the Marks-Rothenberg Department Store. These historic buildings now house the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts.
Another gem is the Threefoot Building, a masterpiece of Art Deco architecture and Meridian’s tallest skyscraper. Today it has been tastefully repurposed into The Threefoot Hotel, where the Art Deco mosaics continue to captivate attention and a new rooftop bar elevates the experience, offering panoramic views of the city and creating a harmonious blend of the past and present.