The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named the Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2020.
In a release, the Mississippi Heritage Trust provided some background on the historic location in Jackson:
Constructed in 1960 in the heart of Mississippi’s Capital City, the Sun-n-Sand exemplifies mid-century design with its metal screens, large expanses of glass and colorful Googie sign. During its 40 years of operation, the Sun-n-Sand was the home away from home for Mississippi legislators. The Sun-n-Sand is where a young State Representative, John Grisham, wrote A Time To Kill and where the courageous women of the interracial, interfaith movement “Wednesdays in Mississippi” met to further the cause of Civil Rights.
The Sun-n-Sand closed its doors in 2002 and was named to the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi in 2005. Over the years, the Mississippi Heritage Trust has fielded numerous calls from developers interested in the property, but the owner, who was receiving a reported $78,000 a year from the State of Mississippi to lease the hotel’s parking lot, was unwilling to sell.
In 2019, the State of Mississippi purchased the Sun-n-Sand for a reported $1.1 million dollars and stated its intention to demolish the building to construct a parking lot. Since that time, community leaders have been advocating for the State of Mississippi to consider proposals from interested developers to convert this Mississippi Landmark into apartments, live-work units, or a hotel rather than demolish it. The threat to this modernist building that speaks to Mississippi’s political, architectural, literary, and Civil Rights is imminent, as the State of Mississippi has already received bids for demolition.
According to the Mississippi Heritage Trust, to demolish the Sun-n-Sand and build a 260-spot surface parking lot, it will cost the state an estimated $2,095,000.
“The Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel has a history that is as vibrant and distinctive as its architecture, and the National Trust believes it can have an even brighter future,” stated Katherine Malone-France, Chief Preservation Officer for National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Reusing and revitalizing the Sun-n-Sand would help the State of Mississippi celebrate its rich history—including the story of ongoing racial reconciliation represented by ‘Wednesdays in Mississippi’—while putting the building back into use in a way that could create jobs and stimulate economic growth.”