It’s a tiny little burg with a booming art scene—and catfish.
So where is Taylor, Mississippi? Almost dead center between Oxford and Water Valley. Taylor’s about a 15-minute drive from Ole Miss, which is one of the reasons why this almost-defunct little town began to blossom in the seventies, when the price of Oxford real estate started going up. Taylor was less expensive but still convenient to everything in Ole Miss territory.
According to town history, artists were drawn here, in part, by—of all things—a natural gas line that runs smack through Taylor. Potters’ kilns run on gas, so . . .
Over the years, Taylor has continued to grow, getting better and better as more artists, innkeepers, and restaurateurs succumb to its small-town charms. Meanwhile, growers at places like Taylor Creek Farms and Broken Magnolia Farm have brought Taylor fresh new options for locally sourced food. You just never know what creative enterprises will spring up in and around town.
Here’s why you should pay a visit to Taylor:
By the time husband-and-wife artists Marc Deloach and Christine Schultz opened their gallery, Taylor Arts, back in 1999, the town was already home to some significant talent working in everything from pottery to photography to sculpture. Among those residents were Obie Clark and Alice Hammell, who started Tin Pan Alley Art and Antiques in town, as well as Bill Beckwith, Keith Stewart, and Jane Rule Burdine.
Locals like to preserve what has been here for years instead of razing it, so the old becomes new again as artists and entrepreneurs set up shop in old structures or in new ones built from reclaimed materials. There’s still just one gas station, Carter’s Store, established in 1941. You can also buy dry goods at Carter's and pick up a sandwich and a Coke (that’s Southern for “soda”). Visitors can check into Taylor Inn, which has five rooms, or step around back to the Chicken House, a uniquely rustic little getaway. And on the same property, you’ll find the Big Truck Theatre, a barn-like event space with a stage extended by a flat-bed truck.
The New Old Community
Developing a new planned community in an old, old town could’ve gone badly, but Plein Air made a commitment to reflecting the pedestrian- and porch-friendly vibe of old Southern towns. No condo towers or strip malls here. Just true-to-the-South architecture that includes an event space called The Mill, which is very popular with brides. It’s built out of reclaimed materials salvaged from a 100-year-old paper mill in Virginia. In 2016, The Mill opened a new (but not entirely) chapel that has heart pine floors from an old warehouse in Charleston, windows from a Lutheran church in Pennsylvania, and maple pews from a house of worship in Virginia.
The Fine Dining
Experience the elevated Southern cuisine of GRIT, owned by husband and wife Nick Reppond and Angie Sicurezza. Before savoring such dishes as Gulf Shrimp & Peas with johnnycake, wilted greens, and horseradish-herb cream or Crispy-Skin Redfish with collard green bisque, popcorn rice, and roasted tomatoes, have a signature cocktail—maybe a Yankee Sour, an Oxford American, the Highway 75, or our personal favorite, the Everett, My Beard Itches.
If you haven’t heard of the catfish and live music at Taylor Grocery and Restaurant, you might not be from around here. It’s famous. They don’t take reservations. You'll have to hang out on the porch till your table opens up. But it’ll be worth it. They also don’t serve alcohol, but according to their website, regulars have been known to tailgate while they wait. Open Thursday through Sunday nights. The Grocery’s slogan: “Eat or we both starve.”