Vaiden’s Proposed Facelift
April 4, 1973
Too Little…Too Late
On April 4, 1973, LTA Planning Consultants of Jackson, Mississippi, completed a study for the Town of Vaiden to be used to suggest enhancements on “Front Street,” to be used to attract more business to the downtown area. It was submitted to the Vaiden Town Board shortly thereafter. An article in the Conservative appeared on April 19, 1973, detailing the proposal, and included a photo of Mayor B.F. Wiley, Willard Tredway (LTA Consultant), and Mike Persons (Regional Planner with the North Central Planning and Development District of Mississippi). The photo also showed an artist’s conception of what the buildings would look like after renovation.
Due to the completion of Interstate 55 in Vaiden in 1973, the connection between the interstate and Highway 51 through downtown Vaiden was severed, resulting in the beginning of the end for the downtown area. Before Interstate 55 was completed in 1973, interstate traffic from the north would have to exit at Vaiden and proceed eastward on Highway 35 to Highway 51 slightly south of town. The alternate route was on Highway 430 (a.k.a. Mulberry Street) to downtown Vaiden, and then southbound on Highway 51. After getting on Highway 51 southbound, traffic would remain on Highway 51 all the way to Canton, Mississippi, some 60 miles south, before getting back on Interstate 55 southbound. Of course, northbound traffic followed the same route in reverse. The death knell for downtown Vaiden came with the “progress” of the highway system.
In 2002, Vaiden’s Front Street, and the rest of the town, for the most part, has dwindled away. Businesses closed, people moved away, and the buildings that had stood since 1859 were demolished.
On February 22, 2002, I contacted Mr. Bob Williamson, the Executive Director for the Mississippi North Central Planning and Development District, about any information concerning the 1973 proposed facelift. I had no idea that the information would still be available, but the proposal (without the artist’s conception) was still on file. Mr. Williamson graciously mailed the information to me and it is contained below in an Adobe .pdf (Portable Document Format) file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the Appearance Study. Acrobat Reader can be obtained, free of charge, from Adobe at http://www.adobe.com.
Although it is probably nonexistent, I will continue to search for the “artist’s conception” depicted in the newspaper article.