For years after it was built in 1923 the 12-story beige brick hostelry on Capitol Street was known as the “Edwards House” until its name was changed to the more regal King Edward.
Long-time House Speaker Walter Sillers, the courtly Delta baron, was noted for “holding court” each evening in the hotel lobby to plot mischief for his foes over at the Capitol. Memorable was the Sillers’ “caucus” that derailed the historic effort by Gov. J. P. Coleman to hold a constitutional convention to overhaul the state’s 1890 State Constitution.
The rebirth of the King Edward has raised hopes that it will reverse the decades-long decline of Jackson’s downtown business area-and spark a new era of downtown development in the state’s Capital city at a time when the state needs an economic boost. A significant part of the hotel’s restoration project is the adding of several floors of upscale apartments in keeping with the trend in other metropolitan areas to provide small family housing in the downtown business district.
I recall in the late 1950s not long after the King Edward owners built the Crown Room ballroom adjacent to the hotel, Ronald Reagan, then on a national tour being sponsored by General Electric, packed the house with budding Republicans for one of his speeches on how America’s free enterprise system’s technology far excelled that of Soviet Russia. I remember a year later the USSR sent Sputnik into outer space, putting the U.S. in second place in space technology.
The Neshoba Democrat