—Heritage Trails Enrichment Program —
The Green Street Business District
The Green Street business district was the hub of the black community in the early part of the century, up to and beyond desegregation. The area from Barnes Street to Spring Street housed the majority of black-owned businesses in Tupelo. The district served the spiritual entertainment, education and commercial needs of the African-American community. Restaurants, clubs, funeral homes, stores and the majority of Tupelo's black churches abounded. Carver School, the black school during segregation, anchored the north end of the street. Green Street was also significant as U.S. Route 45, a major north-south highway from Mobile, Alabama, to northern Michigan. It was the first paved road in the South with the first paved segment in Lee County. Old Highway 45, a major thoroughfare into Tupelo, became Green Street after Highway 45 was rerouted in 1938. As desegregation gained footing, attitudes changed and residents began to branch out to shop. The small businesses on Green Street had trouble competing with larger stores. Children left for college, or to find a better life, leaving no one to carry on the family businesses. Times were changing and the Green Street business district slowly shut down.
businesses on Green Street. White grocery stores didn't serve blacks so grocery stores such as Morgan's Grocery, Cherry Street Grocery, Mr. Max's Grocery, Mrs. Stones Grocery, Ashby's Grocery and Mayhorn's Grocery evoke memories of shopping for meals or making a nickel running to shop for an elderly neighbor. Mr. Cook's shopping plaza boasted a beauty shop, barber shop and liquor store. There was Neal's Cab Stand, Moore's Cab Stand, Henry Brame's Cab Stand,
McCrady Auto Shop, Elsie's House of Beauty, Fred's Haberdashery, Walter Kirk's Barber Shop and Tolbert and Bobo Funeral Home. Lunch lines were long at Debro's Café for hamburgers, fish and ice cream, and Mr. Cooper's store for candy and big cinnamon rolls. Joyce's Drive In and Mayhorn's Dairy Bar were popular before football games. Saturday nights found restaurants and clubs filled with African- American patrons. The Pig Foot Inn served pigs feet - medium, hot and flaming with an array of toppings including chow-chow. Bobby "Blue" Bland and B.B. King were just a few of the entertainers who performed at the Chatterbox, Red Carpet Lounge, Lamplighters Inn and the Elk's Lodge.