On his blog today Jerry Mitchell reports that an anonymous businessman has set his sights on buying the old Bryant store in Money, MS, and restoring it.
Bryant Grocery and Meat Market has been broken by years of neglect and battered by high winds from Hurricane Katrina, but few have forgotten the events during the summer of 1955 that started here with a wolf-whistle and ended with the slaying of an African-American teenager named Emmett Till.
Now a businessman has put up a website, hoping to restore the fallen store, included in a list of Mississippi’s most endangered historic places.
I'm not sure how exactly launching a website is a prelude to a successful real-estate deal, but so be it. Good luck to him if he can pull it off. It will probably take a private effort to get the ruin into public hands. The word around the state is that the owners have always set a steep price as a way of preventing anything from happening with the old building -- too high especially for any state agency to afford, even in earlier, less dire times.
On his website, the anonymous businessman says his plan is "to fund the restoration process and use the building as a museum for Emmett Till and the civil rights movement that followed his tragic death."
I've always wanted to see the ruin restored as a ruin and a museum built nearby. Given the building's current state of near-collapse, a restoration would more than likely mean a wholesale replacement of the existing structure, and thus the loss of any physical connection with the events of August 28, 1955, as well as the subsequent 55 years. I'm not sure it can even be preserved as a ruin, but in that form, as in its current form, it would convey much more vividly and powerfully than any clean and tidy museum the history of race in Mississippi.
In so many ways, Mississippi is still a wreck.
Photographed on December 29, 2008