Front Street Block B, Lula, MS



This was the site of the Keesee Building. It was a white stucco building of Spanish design with red tiles running along the front top porch. There were round windows along the side. Two windows on either side of a screened in door were at the front. The Keesee Building operated as the farm headquarters for Thomas Morris Keesee. He was a large farmer who moved from Helena, Arkansas sometime after 1930 and his farm and Home were on the north end of town across the tracks. His office was in the back and it may have operated as a commissary. After his death in 1971, it was used as storage and was eventually torn down in the early 2000s.


The middle building and right building were built at the same time and of similar design. There was a large skylight in the roof of each building. All three buildings were connected though. This building was the headquarters of the farm owned by Thurston Evans Hamblett and his wife Kate B. Hamblett. They moved to Town prior to 1930 and appear on the census living in Lula. In 1926, Kate B. Hamblett was in a group that organized the Lula Light and Power Company. They farmed a large plantation in both Coahoma and Tunica counties. The family also had a cotton gin in Lula. He died in 1956. Several more farmers used it as an office including Donald McKnight. Eventually it would be purchased by Wilbur and Georgia Bell Hanks who would operate it as a clothing store. She sold it to a family along with her grocery store who turned it into a laundry mat. James Dean, Jr. eventually bought the store and laundry mat running it for years before retiring. It closed a few years later and the roof has now collapsed. There was painting on the side wall of the famous Kate Adams steamboat and blues men from the area.


The building on the right

It is not quite certain who owned this building first, but by 1940 it was a grocery store owned by Eugene Joe. He and his cousin, Billy Joe, were operating it. Eugene Joe had came to the United States from China. His store was called Union Grocery. There was an addition on the back for a garage and apartment where the family lived. Joe eventually brought his wife to the U.S. and they moved to Memphis selling the business to Wilbur and Georgia Bell Hanks. It was renamed Lula Grocery. Georgia Bell Hanks would run the store along with a clothing store next door until retiring.


The business would change hands again though when James and Lena Dean purchased it. James and Georgia Bell were brother and sister. After James Dean retired, both stores were sold and have eventually closed.







One response to “Front Street Block B, Lula, MS”

  1. Mike Cloud Avatar
    Mike Cloud

    Early on, I remember that store being operated by the Lou family. I went to Lula Rich with Rose Ann Lou and her younger brother King.


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