This month, we’re pleased to feature Baldwyn, a town that’s rich in history and is transforming into a local arts and entertainment destination.
Photos contributed by Baldwyn Main Street
Some folks might think the town of Baldwyn, nestled securely between Tupelo and Booneville, is simply a sleepy little bedroom community. But they would be mistaken.
Baldwyn, population of 3,300, is a hidden gem. And there’s good news: The movers and shakers of Baldwyn are working hard to bring their town out of hiding. There are a lot of great things going on, especially in downtown Baldwyn, that make a visit worthwhile.
The town, which is shared by Lee and Prentiss counties, was formed around the time the Mobile and Ohio Railroad was in the process of being built, from 1848 to 1861. The railroad missed the village of Carrollville by less than two miles. So Carrollville citizens packed up and moved to Baldwyn, which — legend has it — was named for the civil engineer who surveyed the railroad through the town.
Learn more about its history at Mississippi’s Final Stands Interpretive Center, five miles west of Baldwyn. Then head to Main Street in downtown Baldwyn, park your vehicle and prepare to spend some time visiting the unique stores and other interesting spots that are helping Baldwyn become a thoroughfare into the arts. It may be just a three-block distance, but it’s chockfull of fun finds. And bring your appetite.
1. Final Stands Interpretive Center
607 Grisham St.
Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Visitors are treated to a comprehensive overview of the Civil War, including an exhibit detailing Mississippi’s part in the war. You’ll learn about the battles of Brice’s Crossroads and Harrisburg-Old Town Creek through both indoor and outdoor exhibits. The 4,000-square-foot interpretive center includes restrooms, a bookstore, flag exhibit and a conference room.
2. Claude Gentry Theatre and Simon Spight Auditorium
110 W. Main St.
The Claude Gentry Theatre is home to Baldwyn Main Street Players, a performance art theater that has offered all manner of comedies, dramas and everything in between to theatergoers in the area. The auditorium bears the name of Simon Spight. Gentry was a Baldwyn businessman who contributed much as a historian to the community and also owned two theaters on Main Street. Spight, also a historian, left resources to promote the history of Baldwyn. The theater has offered a plethora of events for arts lovers of all ages — family-friendly movies, live musical entertainment, 2nd Saturday Live radio show and much more. The theater, once a two-story opera house whose second story was destroyed by a tornado in 1942, was renovated by Clark Richie into a modern, 88-seat theater.
3. Crossroads Pottery
109 S. 2nd St.
Sisters Shelia Hall and Anita Sandlin both had full-time jobs when they began dabbling in the art of pottery in 2005 in Hall’s garage in her Brice’s Crossroads home. Their hobby eventually grew into a full-time endeavor that outgrew the garage and a larger building across the street. Downtown Baldwyn is now home to their business that ships pottery to various places. Though Crossroads Pottery is not open daily for visitors, your children’s handprints may be made by appointment.
4. Fill My Cup
101 E. Main St.
Hours: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Stop in at Fill My Cup for a hot cup of coffee and something delicious that’s been baked on any given day. Tammy Lee, owner of Fill My Cup, employs workers who are in a drug rehab program. Her goal is to help those who are going through programs to help themselves.
5. Six Shooter Studios
111 E. Main St.
Baldwyn native Clark Richey wears a lot of hats around his hometown. Six Shooter Studios is just one of several of his offerings. The studio is a filmmaking and screenwriting organization established to create original shorts, features, music videos and episodic projects.
6. Tom’s Soda Shop
104 West Main St.
Hours: 6 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday; 6 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Thursday, Friday; 7 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Saturday; and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday.
For more than 100 years, the building at this address has been recognized as Tom’s Drug Store. The still-present blue and white neon sign was placed over the sidewalk outside the brick building by an early pharmacist, Tom Mauldin, who ran the store with several different partners until his death in 1956. Until the1980s, the store — expanded to include general merchandise and a soda fountain — was run by Clyde and Jimmy Tapp. After standing empty and unoccupied for 20 years, Tom’s was transformed by Clark Richey into Tom’s Soda Shop. Today, the vintage soda fountain serves hot dogs, hamburgers and, some say, the best milkshakes around.
7. The Alley Cat Gallery
103 East Main St.
Hours: noon-6 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
The Alley Cat Gallery opened in 2019 and offers an outlet for more than 20 regional artists’ work.
8. Oakhill Candle Company
106 S. 2nd St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
April Bell never dreamed her love of candles might develop into a full-time business. Bell makes her own soy candles in Baldwyn. Oakhill Candle Company is open for business on Fridays and Saturdays, but the rest of the time, Bell makes and ships her candles all over the world. She’s been in business in Baldwyn since 2014.
9. Underground Comics
103 E. Main St.
April Bell also runs Underground Comics, where she sells comics and collectibles.
10. County Line Music
105 W. Main St.
County Line Music is a music production studio that also offers music lessons for guitar, drums, piano and voice.