Written by Lauren Greene
Nestled in the county of Madison, Mississippi is a nine-block town by the name of Livingston. The town first got its start due to its location near a spring that still flows about 30,000 gallons of water into a nearby lake. In 1829 the town became the county seat and grew to be the largest city in Madison county. The first courthouse was located in the town’s square. The building still remains, nestled between two beautiful old cedar trees. As the railroad was built, it naturally went a different direction and bypassed The Town of Livingston. In 1835 the county seat was moved to Canton, Mississippi. The county seat still remains located in Canton today. This caused many of the towns residents to relocate elsewhere. By the 1940’s, the town lost it’s charter. David Landrum has been the visionary and developer of the revived Town of Livingston. David grew up in Laurel, Mississippi but has called Jackson, Mississippi home for 30 years now. He was finishing up a development a mile down the read from Livingston when the realtor he was working with informed him about this old town just down the road. At the time, the abandoned town’s owner was using the land to raise cattle. In 2006, David went to check out the property. The only remains of the town were old building foundations and chicken coups. Otherwise, the town was completely abandoned. David grew up with his father teaching and loving history. When David saw the town he knew bringing new life to a town of the past could be something special. The location was also a selling point for him, as he knew that the town was in the growth track of Madison County. David hired Historical Concepts, an architecture company out of Atlanta, to come up with the town’s master plan.
This master plan placed the town’s streets in the same location they were in 1829. The company used the original town plat from archives and history and overlaid it onto the town’s square. The streets are built narrower than usual, causing traffic to slow and allowing the town to be more pedestrian friendly. As a nod to the past, the buildings also have a historical look to them. David has enjoyed seeing his vision for the town come to life over the years. He loved taking a town that had become almost nothing, seeing its potential, and then getting to make it a reality. His vision for the town began with its history and potential charm. David spent a lot of time gathering other people’s input and through that his vision for the town grew. Before they built any of the buildings in the town, they began putting it back on the map by hosting a weekly famers market. They began hosting the town’s weekly farmers market eight years ago. They chose hosting a farmers market to draw people in because they wanted to do something organic and appealing to people of all generations. When the market first began they did not know if anyone would show up. However, the town has received the title as the number one farmers market in Mississippi by Mississippi Magazine for the past three years.
In 2014, the Town of Livingston opened its first store which was the Mercantile store, followed by the opening of The Gathering restaurant. As of today, Livingston also houses County Seat restaurant, Farmers Table Cooking School, Tulip Floral & Goods shop, Livingston Sweet Shoppe, Livingston Cellars, and the Chapel at Livingston. The town will also be introducing a new restaurant this June. The new restaurant will feature specialty cocktails and small plates. The idea behind the new restaurant is that it will be a fun place to meet up with friends over a glass of wine. The town’s masterplan shows it being 4-5 times larger than it currently is. The town’s expansion plans include more commercial space, restaurants, and even an inn with a rooftop bar overlooking the town’s square. The town’s developers also have plans to build residential Charleston cottages in the future. The town also has plans to build a small museum to display the artifacts that have been collected, telling the story of Livingston. By doing so, the town’s past will be carried into the present and future. “We want the town to be four things: A celebration of art, literature, music, and food. So anything that deals with those four things we want to excel at doing. We feel like that is really the heart of Mississippi. Mississippi has so many creative people and we want to embody all of that in our little community” (David Landrum, personal communication). The community aspect is what makes the town what it is today. People come to the farmers market and then stay and enjoy themselves. The town offers many activities for kids, live music, festivals, and more throughout the year. By providing things to do, David feels they are able to take people back to a simpler time and provide an environment that allows people to feel like they have gotten away without having to travel far. The goal of the town’s establishment was to bring things back to the simplicity of the past and provide a beautiful place for people to enjoy time together. The Community Foundation sponsors all the events at Livingston. The goal of the Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the community and to build community. From the beginning, they wanted to recreate the town and take it to a level that has not really been done in Mississippi. The town is constantly hosting new events and brainstorming new ideas. The town’s success is credited to having a standard of excellence and doing everything a notch above. From historic to happening, The Town of Livingston is a summer must for every age.