The Dart: Natchez native working to revitalize neighborhood
Published 12:00 am Monday, April 18, 2016
NATCHEZ — When The Dart fell on Smith Street this week, a Natchez native was working to revitalize his former neighborhood.
Lee Oscar Dixon said he and his eight siblings were born and raised in a small shotgun house on Smith Street, but only a chimney remains where the house once stood.
Dixon, who now lives in Woodville where he serves as a Justice Court Judge, bought the property and the property next door, which used to be the Earnest Lee juke joint.
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The neighborhood bar was a place where everyone would go to hang out, Dixon said, but it closed approximately seven years ago.
In addition to his childhood house and the bar property Dixon purchased several other neighboring parcels.
“I have a lot of memories on this street,” Dixon said. “It seemed like the right thing to do.”
The buildings were in such a state of disrepair Dixon said he decided to have them torn down, leaving an empty lot which Dixon was having mowed on Friday.
For now, Dixon intends to maintain the lots as green space.
“This used to be just wilderness,” Dixon said, indicating the lots across the street, which are now occupied by new houses.
In the future, Dixon said he might donate the property for use by Habitat for Humanity, a charity that builds houses for those who cannot afford them.
Dixon said even though his childhood house was demolished, he’s glad to have the site cleaned up to help the neighborhood.
“Everything wasn’t easy, but we made it,” Dixon said of his childhood. “It’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going. It’s about giving back to the community.”