This blog was written by Downtown Ambassador Leanne Venable in June of 2022

When our family moved home to Hattiesburg in 2018, we didn’t look any further than Downtown Hattiesburg. Ever since my brother bought his first home in the Historic District several years ago, I knew I wanted to live downtown one day. So, when the perfect home for our little family of three came up for sale in 2019, we ditched our rental and went all in on owning a piece of Hattiesburg’s history just around the corner. We literally only changed one neighbor when we made the move. Our home was built in 1903 and was home to Hattiesburg’s very first Veterinarian. This is fitting because our little dog Louie was the one to discover this house by digging under the fence into its backyard. 

The best part of these old homes is the porches. Nine months a year, you’ll find neighbors sitting outside enjoying the evening breeze or the peace and quiet of a cup of coffee just as the sun is waking up. The porches are really special because they usually require the least amount of work, unlike the insides of most of these homes. It’s no surprise that Victorian Candlelit Christmas is the season for selling a home downtown. Dim lighting and Christmas decorations along with a little nostalgia are enough to bring even the most practical of homebuyers to the closing table on their very first money pit. That’s what got us. And that’s what keeps us in love with this old house. 

On the weekends, you’ll find us walking to Southbound for bagels and over to The Porter for dinner and drinks. We never miss the Pocket Museum and the Kress window displays. Our six-year-old knows how to navigate a crosswalk in traffic while riding a bike and can recite the histories of the trains at the Train Depot… Just ask him – he’ll tell you! He has named every turtle in Gordon’s Creek and never misses a chance to check on them during a walkabout. 

I love that we can walk to visit family and then walk to dinner. The best months of the whole year are by far April and October when it’s time for Live @ 5. Our wagon stays loaded all month long just waiting for Town Square Park with Friends and Neighbors. Where else can you find something so special, and right in your own backyard? 

But beyond the walkability, the shops, and the restaurants, downtown is special because of the people. Living downtown is all about the people for us. We know our neighbors in every direction and that was key to surviving COVID. When our family was quarantined for Christmas of 2020, every time we opened our front door, another dessert or casserole was on the porch. That is what living downtown is like. We’re the family we choose! We chase down each other’s pets, let their kids take over our yards, and genuinely care about each other. You won’t find that in other places. That is why we live downtown.