By Brandi Perry
With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we have a suggestion that may be mom’s favorite trip yet! Located in the southeast portion of Madison County, Livingston has a unique history that was nearly lost.
Once a booming commercial center, the county seat was moved from Beatties Bluff to Livingston in 1829. A Methodist church was built in 1830 to deal with the church needs in the area, and things seemed to be going well for the small Madison County town. The construction of the courthouse and jail soon followed in 1833, and the thriving town was incorporated in 1836. Unfortunately, by the 1850s, railroads crisscrossed the county, but Livingston was bypassed by the rails. After being an important trading center for nearby plantations and farms, the bad news continued for the citizens when the Civil War was raging. Their Masonic Lodge was ransacked and destroyed by Union forces, and the once-bustling town was nearly deserted. This appeared to be the end of the historic town. By the 1940s, Livingston had lost its charter and was demoted from a town to an unincorporated community. Thankfully, developers had a different idea in store for Livingston in 2012. Land developer and history buff, David Landrum, saw the location and could not ignore the beauty the area offered or the potential. It did not take him long to decide that he wanted to breathe new life into Livingston.
A small farmer’s market opened in Livingston and featured food and entertainment. The event became one of the most popular summer events in Madison County and attracted performers, including country singer Travis Tritt. When it was obvious there was a draw to the new life breathed into Livingston, developers went a step forward by investing more than $70 million in a construction project for an 1800s-style town square. This project included a mercantile and many other stores that might have been found during Livingston’s previous life. Working with architects from Atlanta, the plan was to put the development where the town was originally located. This included the new roads being as close to the old ones as possible, and the buildings resembling what once stood there. What they did not expect was for the small town to continue growing and bring in a variety of restaurants and shops.
The first building most visitors see as soon as they pull onto the property is the Livingston Mercantile. The mercantile is just like the ones from days gone by and offers a little bit of everything for visitors. The store has a little bit of everything, including full-service gasoline, a specialty grocery section and even bait and tackle. The mercantile is full of provisions for everyday life and a fun stop for a little shopping.
Attached directly to the mercantile is The Gathering Restaurant. Inspired by the seasonal offerings of the Magnolia State, the rustic eatery offers blue plate specials for lunch, made from scratch breakfast and innovative dishes for dinner. One of the most amazing aspects of this restaurant is that they produce, dairy, livestock, free-range fowl and even the wood used for the grill are all supplied by the local farmers being of the most interesting farm-to-table restaurants in the state. In addition to serving amazing meals, the staff also caters family events, business meetings or any special occasion. They also cater wedding receptions on the square. Do not worry! Off-site lunch and catering are also available for the same events mentioned above and office parties. There is no business team in Mississippi that would not be excited about their delicious offerings. If you are planning a visit, The Livingston Mercantile and The Gathering Restaurant are located at 106 Livingston Church Road, in Flora, Mississippi.
Food is a huge focus of Livingston, but it is not just limited to eating. The Farmer’s Table Cooking School also gives customers a true farm-to-table experience with hands-on cooking classes, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings and receptions. However, this is a lot more than just a cooking experience. The classes are connected by an Eat Local philosophy, which provides a unique, memorable and fantastic hands-on experience that you will always remember. These cooking classes are based on socially connecting strangers and providing them with the answers to how they make the meals and what is included in them. With wine included, your experience will leave you with some great recipes and new friends. To find out more about the cooking class, visit them on Facebook or Instagram or call (601) 506-6821.
The Chapel at Livingston looks like it has been there for a hundred years and fits perfectly into the square. With merchants just a few feet away that can fill all the needs of a wedding party, you could be one of the lucky brides or grooms that say their vows here. A truly perfect setting for the perfect couple!
Livingston also has a variety of other shops around its square that can meet the need of any visitor. The Briar Patch has all the markings of a vintage bar during Prohibition, but this wonderful location cannot be kept a secret. Offering small plates, delicious cocktails and a huge selection of craft beer, this is the perfect spot for a drink after work. They are open on Thursdays from 4 pm to 10 pm, Fridays from 4 pm to 11 pm, and Saturdays from 12 pm to 11 pm.
Livingston Cellars has the unique ability to blend the old with the new as they have the well-known spirits that have been around for generations in stock as well as the new and upcoming wines. If they do not have it, they can get it for you, and their knowledgeable staff knows the ins and outs of every item on their shelves.
The Livingston Candy and Creamery will give you all the vibes of the old-time candy shops you remember from your childhood with sweet treats that span generations. In addition to rows and isles of any candy you can imagine, you can also get ice and shakes in a variety of flavors. You cannot walk into this sweet shop without a smile on your face.
It is always nice when a location explodes with popularity, but it is even better when they do not forget where they come from. The developers of Livingston have done just that. Starting in May and ending July 4th weekend, the Livingston Local Market is back every Thursday. This event brings out the best of Livingston and the people there. Food, music, local vendors and family fun activities truly make this one of the more cherished events in central Mississippi. It all ends with a fireworks show and more entertainment to not only symbolize the end of the summer but to recognize that no matter how large or popular Livingston gets, they will always find their way back to their roots.
When you visit Livingston, you will feel as though you have stepped out of the hustle and bustle of life and are able to slow down a little and breathe. But this feeling does not have to be reserved for just when you visit. Livingston is always looking for new businesses and residents. In addition, this scenic and beautiful area of Madison County is always welcoming new neighbors, and this would be a special place for you to call home. Livingston should be on everyone’s bucket list to experience the new town with the old soul.