Built in 1929, the Threefoot Building is the tallest structure in Meridian.
Backstory and Context
The Threefoot family's roots in Lauderdale County date to the mid-1800s. They were descendants of German-Jewish immigrants who first lived in the town of Marion. The head of the family was Abraham Threefoot, who anglicized the family's German name, Dreyfuss, which in English means "three foot." Other Jewish families immigrated to the county as well. Not much information about the Threefoot family's early years is readily available but it appears that Abraham came to America with his brothers.
During the Civil War, Abraham made shoes for the Confederacy. After the war, they settled in Meridian and began to make saddles and harnesses. Some time after that, they opened their wholesale grocery store and eventually became cotton brokers as well. Two of Abraham's sons married into the Rothenberg family, who were prosperous as well, and the families merged their grocery businesses. The continued prosperity enabled the Threefoots, in particular Abraham's son, Sam, to build the Threefoot Building. It is located on the site of the family's former grocery business.
The reasons for why they erected the building, which was the tallest building in Mississippi at the time, are unclear. Presumably, it was a business investment to grow the family's wealth. However, this did not occur. The Great Depression began and the number of tenants in the building declined, which forced the family to spend a lot of money to maintain the building. As a result, they relinquished ownership. The building continued to be used as an office building for several decades but it became largely vacant in the 1970s and abandoned by the 1990s. It fell into disrepair as well. Efforts to convert it into a hotel in the mid-2000s fell through. In 2013, an organization called the Threefoot Preservation Society was established to start restoring the building. The culmination of this effort led to the building's current conversion into a Marriott hotel.
"Construction continues on Meridian’s Threefoot Building." WTOK Newscenter 11. June 11, 2020. https://www.wtok.com/2020/06/12/construction-continues-on-meridians-threefoot-building.
Cook, Joy. "Threefoot Building." State of Mississippi Historic Sites Survey. February 1979. https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/51485f5b-e2c7-4136-b44c-ba714dd5ef2b.
"Meridian Jewish landmark sold, Threefoot to become a hotel." Southern Jewish Life. September 30, 2015. https://sjlmag.com/2015/09/30/meridian-jewish-landmark-sold-threefoot-to-become-a-hotel.
"Meridian, Mississippi." Institute of Southern Jewish Life. Accessed January 8, 2020. https://www.isjl.org/mississippi-meridian-encyclopedia.html.
"Progress continues on Threefoot Building." WTOK Newscenter 11. December 23, 2020. https://www.wtok.com/2020/12/23/progress-continues-on-threefoot-building.
Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Threefoot_Building