Of our three incredibly enjoyable Golden Triangle destinations, it was West Point that knocked our socks off. We just hadn’t expected it to be such a little jewel. We’d passed through town years ago, but we had come in from a different direction and hadn’t seen anything very interesting, so we had just kept driving. Apparently, on that trip we happened upon the only part of town that isn’t impressive and mistook it for the whole town. This time was different.
We began to suspect that we might be in for a surprise as soon as we hit the city limits and began passing by one lovely, well-tended home after another. Hmmm. Then we took a drive around a cove – West Point is known for it’s outdoor activities, primarily those centered around water, although we’re told they have some world-class golf at the Old Waverly Golf Club. We saw neighborhoods built right on the waterways and many houses have their own little docks. Lucky them and Hmmm again. Our thoughts were leaning toward, “This is a really nice place.” Then we headed back toward town on Main Street, turned onto Commerce Street, and gaped open-mouthed at this pretty little town. There is a beautiful park, complete with the requisite Civil War Monument and some stellar landscaping.
|Civil War Monument in West Point, MS|
|City Hall, West Point|
|Re-purposed Bank of West Point|
|Interesting...Oldest National Bank in Mississippi is located in West Point.|
|Just couldn't pass up this picture....Closed but not forgotten.|
|Remember these? This was on the street outside the bank building.|
|How about an antique neon sign on the local hardware store?|
Nearby, we found the monument honoring Blues great Howlin’ Wolf, AKA Chester A. Burnett, who was born just north of West Point. The city honors him with a Howlin’ Wolf Blues Festival in conjunction with their annual Prairie Arts Festival on Labor Day weekend. There is also a Howlin’ Wolf Museum (and a transportation museum) but we’ll have to come back for those – we had way too much to see in one day on our Triangle Tour.
We were thrilled to see that West Pointers did two of our very favorite things: They preserved their old downtown theater as well as an old multistory downtown hotel. This is what we love to run across in our travels – towns that had the foresight to save their theaters and hotels. So many small Mississippi towns either didn’t see the value in it or didn’t have the funds to do it.
Not only did someone purchase the fine old Henry Clay Hotel, it’s obviously been restored, refreshed, and refurbished. And, it’s been transformed into a retirement home! Brilliant, positively brilliant. Best use of an old downtown hotel we’ve ever seen. We had a first-floor walk-through and it’s enchanting, as only a fine old hotel can be. They just don’t build buildings with bones like that anymore.
|Henry Clay Hotel, West Point, MS|
|Henry Clay Hotel -- now a retirement home.|
|Inside hallway of retirement home in the Henry Clay Hotel.|
As we proceeded down the block – toward food – we passed a recessed building entry with a ticket booth set into the exterior wall. The theater has been refurbished and is now a restaurant – the Cafe Ritz – with an adjoining meeting space. It’s a nice place for lunch, and an incredible place to go to the bathroom. Seriously, we didn’t expect to just stumble across such luxurious accommodations. Another nice surprise in a surprising little town!
|They left the old ticket booth just for eye-candy....|
|Beautiful restroom at the Cafe Ritz|