Walthall Still for Sale; JSU Opens in Madison | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Walthall Still for Sale; JSU Opens in Madison

Photo by Trip Burns


The historic Edison Walthall Hotel at 225 E Capitol St. should have a new owner by this time next week.

The Edison Walthall Hotel will have a new owner soon—but who that owner is, when the owner will take control and what they plan to do with the building is still unknown.

An auction last week took bids to buy the historic Edison Walthall Hotel at 225 E. Capitol St., but according to the auctioneer, Taylor Auction and Realty Inc., bidders did not reach a preset minimum price. Most of the bidding was online via the Internet, but at the end of the May 22 auction, the Chicago bondholders who currently control the building were not satisfied.

Benny Taylor, who owns Taylor Auction, said he has found a potential buyer for the building, but was still in talks with that buyer at press time. He did not reveal the minimum bid the bondholders would accept.

"All I can tell you is we're still in negotiation," he said. "As soon as we get it in contract, I'll be able to tell you everything you want to know about the process."

The eight-story hotel first opened in the 1920s after owners converted it from its previous incarnation, the Jackson Baking Company. Civil War veteran and local politician Edward Cary Walthall provided the hotel's original name, the Walthall Hotel.

The building saw a remodel in 1967, and then again in 1992, when owner Earl Gaylor of Edison Hotels was rebranded it the Edison Walthall. The Roberts Hotels Group bought the building in 2008, but its attempt to revive it was unsuccessful.

When the Roberts brothers failed to liquidate their debts on the property through bankruptcy, Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary ordered the property sold and appointed a receiver based in Atlanta to handle the sale.

Michael J. Roberts Sr. is still the property's registered owner, according to the Hinds County Tax Assessor. Taylor said he hopes to change that soon.

"There isn't anything wrong with it, really," Taylor said. "There might be some minor damage on the third floor from a water pipe that burst, but the damages caused by flooding in the building have been over exaggerated."

Taylor declined to give an estimated value of the property or disclose the amount of that minimum bid, but tax records show the hotel has an appraised value of nearly $2.2 million.

JSU Opening New Campus Today

Jackson State University will hold a grand opening for its Madison location at 2 p.m. today.

The campus, located at 382 Galleria Parkway in Madison, is the university's first attempt to meet the educational needs of Jackson's surrounding areas. JSU will offer day and night classes, as well as weekend and online courses at the 8,600 square-foot office building it has leased for 10 years and $1.5 million.

In January, the city of Madison and Tulane University, which opened a Mississippi campus there in 2010, offered up some dubious resistance to the new JSU campus. In a letter to JSU, Madison mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler and Tulane officials said that JSU disregarded "the process and the law" to open a campus in Madison. Because the State's Board of Higher Education is required to consider ongoing programs of private colleges before authorizing off-campus programs, the city and Tulane argued the new JSU campus fell under the description of "inefficient and needless duplication."

JSU President Carolyn Meyers told the Associated Press in late January that Hawkins-Butler had plenty of opportunity to express her concerns in meetings with her and other JSU officials.

"It was mentioned, but I told her—or I pointed out to her, and she agreed—that the educational needs of the state of Mississippi are so great that we both can thrive," Meyers said. "We thought we had dotted our 'I's and crossed the 'T's, and that's why we had been trying to meet with her for quite a while, and we had no concerns that she had any concerns."

The Institute of Higher Learning approved the lease agreement for the new campus, and that was all Jackson State needed to go ahead with today's opening.

The campus will offer 11 undergraduate and five graduate courses. Undergraduate courses for the summer semester are set to begin Wednesday.

(Editor's note: This story was edited after publication to clarify JSU is paying $1.5 million over a 10-year lease agreement).

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justjess 7 years, 4 months ago

Hopefully the Wathall Building will soon find a buyer. This will be a good deal for the many on-going projects in Down-Town Jackson.

Now, the opening of a JSU campus in Madison is another matter without absolutely any benefits: financially, politically or with any diversity points. I hope that I'm wrong; however, should it really cost 1.2 million per year in RENT to house 300 studens? At best, this is CRAZY. This does not begin to deal with the cost of hiring teachers, aministrative staff, supplies, office equipment, insurance, utilities and the list goes on and on.

This also means that you will have more of our TAX DOLLARS going into the coffers of Madison, Co.

In my opinion, th is truly taking the "Mountain to Mohammed!

It is nothing wrong with calling this WOLF, .................. UGLY!


ashleedanielle 7 years, 4 months ago

Says the person who doesn't know how to spell "downtown" correctly... No one minds an out-of-state school moving to Madison but JSU is a problem?


msnative1943 7 years, 4 months ago

JSU in Madison:

  1. $1.5 million/yr rent HAS to be a mistake. That would be $174.42/ft ! This is an OBVIOUS error. We need a factcheck here for sure.

  2. why should JSU not got to Madison, if there is a demand for the services? Seriously, I don't see the problem. If they provide good educational services and value, and people actually enroll, what's wrong with a little competition? What am I missing (other than the race issue, which I kind of thought we were past)?


justjess 7 years, 4 months ago

@ashleedanielle The spelling of the word was correct. The problem was the hyphenation. So,Ms./Mr./Mrs. Spelling Bee, please accept my deepest apology for this obvious irritant! I further suggest that you should not read any post by justjess. I am 67 years old and blind in my right eye. I also use a very old keyboard that frequently skips letters. In any given blog, you just might find errors: Some because of the conditions I just stated and others because of the fact that I am human and make mistakes.

@msnative1943 Race became a recognized "issue" when Mrs. Mayor Mary Hawkins stated that she did not want Jackson State University to locate in her town. She also stated that she felt responsible for the survival of LSU. Am I the only one who remembers those points?

Jackson State is only a 20 minute drive from Madison. LSU is 3 &1/2hrs. away from Madison. Jackson State has a faculty shortage and a few other issues that would be better served if this type of debt was not taken on. There isn't any justification for this expansion. Again I ask that the Mountain is not moved to Mohammed.


msnative1943 7 years, 4 months ago


I think it's Tulane and not LSU. And, I don't really care about Tulane (or LSU for that matter).

I'm actually 70 years old, by the way. And, yes, I have a 10 year old keyboard myself. whatever! Not sure what the relevancy of that is.

I don't see a problem with JSU operating a remote campus. Truthfully, it makes more sense for JSU to have a Madison campus than it does a Louisiana college, whether it's Tulane or LSU!

I still say the more the merrier. And, I don't care what Mary Hawkins says. She made it pretty clear that she didn't want JSU because of race. I say bring it on, JSU. Let the marketplace decide if JSU, Tulane or podunk U prevails.


justjess 7 years, 4 months ago


"I say bring it on, JSU. Let the marketplace decide if JSU, Tulane or podunk U prevails."

It has been brought on. The question now is, how much of a financial drain will this campus in Madison have on JSU's main campus? Mary Hawkins and Madison will be fine; That town will profit on the tax dollars from other sources. JSU has only a big bill because of their ignorance and arrogance of paying a high price tag for te FEW who would otherwise choose another college or university.

Think about it. It's time for those who care about the University to get focused on what is R E A L L Y happening. Why was the Board so willing to approve this venture? Why aren't they concerne about the MILLIONS owed JSU through the settlement of the Ayers Case?

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