Mapping a Modern Mississippi < Places < Brookhaven (the city)

Brookhaven (the city)

Nominated as a Modern Mississippi site, Brookhaven deserves all the recognition it receives for daring to differ. Max the Modern Machine, and his story collectors went to discover the Modern stories of this complex city.

Connecting New Orleans and Memphis by railroad, Brookhaven has set itself apart through its community leaders, artists, and citizens that dare to differ.

From the Mississippi School of the Arts to Betty’s Eat Shop to the young directors and actors at Brookhaven Little Theatre, Brookhaven's modernity is evidenced through actions, art, and architecture.

Thank you to all who shared their stories with us.

A special thank you goes out to Nancy Hanks-Myers, who has been our oldest Modern Ambassador and has left us in awe of her energy & enthusiasm for Mapping A Modern Mississippi. Thank you, Nancy for your inspiration and for introducing us to Modern Brookhaven.

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

Katie Nations, Program Director at Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce, is creating a network for the community, whether a corporation, small business, or citizen, to communicate and interact.

“I think what we’re trying to do now is to create a couple of grassroot type events…It’s very small, little things that we’re hoping will become large events and festivals.” -Katie

Brookhaven Little Theatre offers a creative outlet for the teens of Brookhaven by allowing them to direct, act, stage, and choreograph their own shows, as well as participate in well-known shows, such as “The Fantasticks.”

“The theatre has given me so many opportunities and taught me so much just in the past few years. Just how to be different, how to stand out, and that it’s okay to stand out.”- Mary Rhea

“And this theatre alone has proved to me that being different is nothing to be ashamed of.”- Austin

Betty’s Eat Shop, named after Matt’s grandmother, features a mix of fine dining and familiar, Southern dishes. Drawn back to his hometown of Brookhaven, Matt wants to give people a place to come together in the community to have an unique experience.

“I am taking a chance. I could’ve come back and done something sweet and simple and cook food that I like to eat and be safe. And be successful. With this, I hope it’ll be successful… I’m hoping to change people’s opinions and to open them up to different options of food.”-Matt

Developer and businessesman of Brookhaven, Terry Pappas is a visionary. The desire to expand Brookhaven’s historical district and to completely renovate the downtown area drives Terry’s work. What sets Terry apart from other developers is that he tries to save historical aspects of each building he remodels instead of starting from scratch.

“There’s a couple of things we probably didn’t have to save, but to me, that’s the history. So we try to save it all and mix the modern with the historical… After I’m dead and gone, generations will be able to experience this building for a long time.”-Terry

John Lynch feels an inexplicable desire to repurpose spaces in Downtown Brookhaven. He calls it a “disease” or a “passion.” From this desire, the Inn on Whitworth, a Bed and Breakfast in Brookhaven, was born. Kim Sessums, a doctor/artist, was commissioned to decorate the space, and together, they have created a space where people like to be. For the past five years, people from around the world have enjoyed the Inn on Whitworth!

“Once we got the place done and people began to come in and visit, what we found out was—and I tell Johnny this all the time—if you make the space good, people may not know why they like to be in it, but they like to be in it. And that’s what happens here. People come in, probably different from anything they had known before… And they liked the art.”-Kim

“We get international travelers doing the Blue’s Trail, they’re going to New Orleans for various reasons. And so they come in and go ‘I cannot believe that this is in Brookhaven. This is just so different.’”-John

After spending the majority of her life in Brookhaven, Tammy Santos Brewer found a passion for the history of the area. One of the charter members of the Lincoln County Historical and Genealogical society, Santos Brewer helped establish a museum, and along with other historians, wrote a book to preserve the rich story of Brookhaven.

“Brookhaven has had a lot of forward thinkers, I believe… You know there’s a cliché--you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been--I think that applies a lot of the time, especially to the people that are the forward thinkers or those who see the big picture. They’ve seen where Brookhaven has been; they know where they want Brookhaven to go. I think by putting all that together they see the potential that Brookhaven has.”- Tammy

Don Jacobs, a muralist, founded Brookstock. Brookstock is Brookhaven’s annual music festival with humble beginnings. Shaw Furlow approached Don about expanding Brookstock to more than one night.

“I’m trying to help build the music and art scene here in Brookhaven. You know, we’ve got a great little town here, and now that we’ve got venues to play in, the musicians are starting to reemerge.”-Shaw

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