The Cotton District, Mississippi

5 02 2014

Cotton District

Located in the college town of Starkville, Mississippi is an idyllic neighborhood — the Cotton District.

In the 1920’s, Starkville’s cotton mill was home to many poor tenants and workers, and by the mid-1960’s, it had fallen into complete disrepair. So Dan Camp, inspired by European cities, as well as other beautiful Southern locales such as Charleston and New Orleans began building homes and businesses classic architecture in the Victorian and Greek Revival styles.

Commonly considered the first example of new urbanism, today, the Cotton District houses college students, young professionals, and retirees.

New Urban Cowboy

8 06 2013


If you’re looking for an interesting documentary to watch this weekend, check out New Urban Cowboy: Toward a New Pedestrianism. Artist and founder of the New Pedestrian movement Michael Arth moved to DeLand, Florida where he began to purchase and design homes and businesses in the historic “garden district” that had fallen into disrepair. His labors for a renaissance of the formerly run-down area turned into a new way to build towns. Work opportunities based an a pedestrian model brought new life into this urban village.

With a renewed focus on community, and a decreased dependence on our automobiles, the new pedestrian movement is a model I can get behind! What a fascinating look at a hopeful vision for the future.

New Urbanism: A Southern Revolution

3 06 2013


I am a big fan of old houses. There’s nothing like the charm of a great old neighborhood with large, shady trees, sidewalks, and neighbors close enough to know each other.

But I’m also a fan of new houses — with enough closet space, modern electrical wiring, and  energy effecient design.

Gladly, developers are taking note and including all the wonderful elements of those beloved established neighborhoods in new communities.

This movement is called “new urbanism.”  I’ve posted before about Cordova The Town in Tennessee, one of the first examples of tactical urban development in the 1990’s. And the most popular example is probably Celebration, Florida, but these communities are popping up all over the South.

Hallmarks of new urbanism include sidewalks and homes close to the streets, so that neighbors can easily interact with each other. They often offer parks, shopping, and schools right in the neighborhoods themselves, bringing individual families into real community.

This model of sustainable efforts is the answer to surburban sprawl that was so popular in the last century, and the south is leading the way. After all, it comes natural to us. When it comes to knowing our neighbors, bringing over an apple pie or watching the kids for an hour or two — that’s our Southern hospitality specialty.