The I-55 Corridor: Grenada, Tillatoba, Courtland, Batesville, Sardis

 Our trip down the I-55 corridor was an eye opener – we were taken aback by the beauty of Mississippi’s great outdoors. But between stops at various lakes and campgrounds, we paid visits to a few towns. We didn’t have time to really examine any town in-depth, but we enjoyed getting even a glimpse of places we’ve always heard about.

We made our first stop in Grenada – at Jake and Rip’s, a barbeque restaurant we read about in Mississippi Magazine. WOW! We expected good barbeque, but we were blown away by how good everything we ordered was. The menu piqued our interest with its fried okra appetizer. An okra appetizer. Who thought of that? Whoever it was, we love them. But mostly we love whoever cooked our personal plate of okra – the closest to homemade we’ve ever had in a restaurant. No pre-frozen, thickly-floured, industrial-flavored puff balls here; Jake and Rip’s okra tasted fresh and came coated in cornmeal and fried like Mama used to.

Okay, we’re not sure Jake and Rip’s could even find fresh okra in April, so maybe theirs did come out of a freezer…we don’t know. What we do know is that if they can buy frozen okra and turn it into what we ate, they have magical powers. And by the way, their catfish is outstanding.
The front door of Jake and Rip's takes you to some fine cooking.
When we finally finished eating – and it took a while – we waddled off toward downtown Grenada. It’s a pretty little town of about 15,000 and it’s done a lot of historic preservation work. There’s a beautiful town square with a gazebo, some well-restored storefronts, and a couple of lovely murals. They also have an extensive (35 properties) Historical Walking and Driving Tour – go to http://www.grenadams.com/ for a brochure.

The John Moore house c. 1856, 201 Margin Street

The John Lake House c. 1880, 425 Margin Street
The Golladay House -- said to be haunted -- c 1850, 501 Margin Street
The First Presbyterian Church, established 1838.

One of the two murals in downtown Grenada depicting its history.
 It’s a great tour, but we recommend walking parts of it if possible, especially the eleven or so stops on South Main Street. A lot of homes are close together, necessitating a really slow drive – much slower than the cars behind you want to go – to really see and enjoy them. Plus, we found it difficult to maneuver the one-way streets and remain oriented to the tour.(Marian --hey folks...I don't think I've ever been as confused by one-way streets in a town. They all seemed to lead away from the square.  Honestly, walking would have really been the very best way to make this tour.)
The town square in Grenada has a clock tower, statue and gazebo.

Full disclosure here: Although we were touring the I-55 corridor, we didn’t actually take I-55. We don’t like interstates. Oh, we use them when we need them, but we prefer not to so we stayed with Highway 51 – a fine road that runs right alongside the interstate – and we’re glad we did. If we’d been on the interstate, we would have missed the tiny hamlet of Tillatoba. There are only something like 100 Tillatobans, and we actually spotted one. He waved. And, had we been on the interstate, we would have missed the little town of Oakland, and the beautiful house whose owner spied us as she was leaving and told us to come back anytime and she would show us around inside. We wouldn't have seen Courtland, either, and its pretty United Methodist Church. What a charming little church and what beautiful stained glass windows.
Courtland United Methodist Church

This beautiful early 1900 mansion in Oakland has been lovingly restored. 

Turn around in their driveway and you'll get a bouncy barky greeting, too...had to share.

Batesville’s really been busy renovating their downtown, sprucing up buildings and painting murals. They’ve also done a beautiful job of hardscaping and landscaping their (courthouse-free) town square. It’s really lovely – an open and airy park, very green, with gazebo-like structures that have a “railroad depot” vibe. 
Town square in Batesville.
 Actually, Batesville has a railroad history – it owes its initial growth to the Illinois Central Railroad that once came through town en route from Memphis to New Orleans. And by “came through town” we mean just that; the railroad tracks run right through downtown!  That’s only fitting for a town named for a railroad man: Mr. Jim Bates, a conductor on the Illinois Central’s predecessor, the Mississippi and Tennessee Railroad.   http://www.cityofbatesvillems.com/

Yep -- Susan got the camera and took a decent picture of me in the square in Batesville. 

Sardis’s tiny downtown has a lot of potential, and revamping seems to have gotten underway recently. Some of the original brick facades have been uncovered already and it’s looking good.

The Panola Playhouse

Sardis is home to the Panola Playhouse, “A Historic Community Theater.” It’s a live theater company that has been around about fifty years – remarkable for a town of some 2,000 people.  http://www.panolaplayhouse.com/

No comments:

Post a Comment