Mapping a Modern Mississippi < Places < Water Valley (the city)

Water Valley (the city)


Nominated as a Modern Mississippi site, Water Valley dares to differ in myriad ways. Max the Modern Machine visited and met some of the extraordinary residents.

Once a historic railroad town, it has now developed into an inimitable haven of creativity, community, and free thought.

Some of those we met were brave enough to talk to us on film about how their town dares to differ. They told us how this creative community is moving its town forward into an arts hub. 

Thank you all for your inspiring stories and a special thank you to Mickey Howley (Water Valley Main Street Association Director) and his wife Annette Trefzer of Bozarts Gallery for hosting us and connecting us with so many great folks!

We look forward to our next visit!

These are the stories we experienced while visiting this community. To find more stories about places and people from the area, explore the map.

The Stories


It's arts friendly and collaborative. The citizens have re-invented the town

Credit to: Jan Watson



The New York Times article which rocked Water Valley to fame selected 4 of the unique wonderful citizens of this creative town. Telling of how Water Valley has been brought back to life & how it became a thriving creative hub.

“All through Mississippi there are these beautiful little towns,” Mr. Ownby said, “and too many of them, sadly, are empty storefronts and decaying housing. A few of them, like Water Valley, have had a revival because of a good idea or a few good ideas. Artists moving in is one option.”

 Click here to read the article.

Credit to: Penelope Green, New York Times



Kagan Coughlin calls himself a builder of things. After leaving a lucrative career in finance, Coughlin and his family have become instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Water Valley, Mississippi. Their properties and businesses include the BTC grocery, a local anchor of food and community that has received acclaim from both inside the state and beyond.

This interview is part 1 of 3. Kagan talks about the couples journey with the BTC grocery.

Part 2 focuses on Base Camp Coding Academy, which he is the founder of.

Part 3 focuses on the Mechanics Bank in Water Valley & their involvement in rejuvenating the town.



The iconic B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery who fed us coffee, cake & downtime from filming.

Credit to: robert rausch



Yalo Studio 
has been nominated as a Modern Mississippian Studio which dares to differ. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited, however we did get to interview the owner Coulter Fussell watch out for her interview to be uploaded soon.


Credit to: robert rausch



Glenda Gordon dreamed of opening her own Flowers and gift shop in the way she wanted it. Since she opened it she has watched all the shops around her on Main Street also follow their dreams.



Kagan Coughlin calls himself a builder of things. After leaving a lucrative career in finance, Coughlin and his family have become instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Water Valley, Mississippi. His projects include Base Camp Coding Academy, a fast-track vocational program for rising Mississippi software developers and coders who will go on to work with companies across the state that desperately need new talent.

This interview is part 2 of 3 where Kagan talks about how the Base Camp coding Academy began.

Part 1: BTC Old fashioned grocery, which he co-founded with his wife, Alexe van Beuren.
Part 2:
Mechanics Bank, which has been part of the town since 1892.



Kagan Coughlin, founder of Base Camp Coding Academy, calls himself a builder of things. After leaving a lucrative career in finance, Coughlin and his family have become instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Water Valley, Mississippi. Their properties and businesses include almost an entire city block of refurbished buildings that include retail stores, a boutique hotel, apartments, and event venue.

This interview, is the third in a three part series of Kagan Coughlin, talking about Modern Water Valley. In this one he tells the story of a Modern bank which has been part of the towns community since 1892, Mechanics Bank.

The other two interviews he discusses:
Part 1: BTC Old Fashioned Grocery in Water Valley
Part 2: Base Camp Coding Academy in Water Valley




Justin Geurin moved to Water Valley to teach at the local high school. He served as assistant principal and, briefly, principal at the local high school. Now, after losing his post at the high school for reasons beyond his control, Justin and his family have turned their focus toward building a home…



Water Valley Mississippi Main Street

Credit to: robert rausch



Annette Trefzer says that she lives a double life. She's an English professor by day at the University of Mississippi, and a Water Valley business owner and operator (along with her husband Mickey) at night. Their store front in Water Valley, Bozarts Gallery, is a haven for experimentation, synergy, and collaboration.



Artist Cindy Aune of Water Valley paints with her fingers. She's developed the technique over the years and sees it as a way to create intuitively. In her words, it offers her a "freedom of movement." She is one of many makers who showcase their work at Water Valley's artist-fueled Bozarts Gallery.


Ramona Bernard of the Water Valley Arts Council LOVES the state. She'll tell you that she fell in love with it around the year 2000 when she moved from the dry deserts of the American Southwest to the fertile landscape of Mississippi. She's now part of a thriving arts community that uses creativity and ingenuity to build community and a thriving business and cultural sector.


Nicolas Trepanier moved from Quebec, Canada to Water Valley, Mississippi to take a job as a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Ole Miss.


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