History of Downtown Hattiesburg
Hattiesburg was founded in 1884 by Capt. William Hardy as a railroad junction in the great virgin, yellow-pine forests of South Mississippi. The railroad brought the lumber companies and a booming economy. While “trains and timber” defined the early days, by the turn of the century, Hattiesburg had emerged as a bustling and vibrant “Hub City” for the entire region. The city quickly became a center of business and industry, educational and medical institutions with two universities, hospitals and clinics, army training base, and a variety of retail, work and industrial opportunities.
Hattiesburg is the county seat of Forrest County, and Downtown is the center for city, county and federal government facilities. The Downtown of today also is a center for arts, culture and heritage, anchored by a restored Saenger Theater for performances and Hattiesburg Cultural Center with an art gallery and historic museum. The historic Hattiesburg Depot, renovated as the Hattiesburg Intermodal Center for transportation, includes space for public functions in its classic Grand Hall.
Historic Downtown is the place for unique retail and for dining and live music, plus periodic events celebrating arts, culture and entertainment. Housing choices include new and historic lofts and traditional apartments as well as single-family residences in adjacent historic districts.
Downtown is a place of high-style architecture reflecting the City’s past in its landmark buildings. The Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association is facilitating economic development in this unique district while preserving its heritage. Downtown is where you can explore the past, see the present and help mold the future of Mississippi’s Hub City.