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From the archives: The Tri-State Motor Coach Station



Tri-State Motor Coach Station
(Courtesy of Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.)

The Tri-State Motor Coach Station, located at 1511 Walnut Street, was constructed in 1941 by the Tri-State Transit Company of Louisiana.

Tri-State Coaches began in 1922 in Shreveport, Louisiana, operating three routes from Shreveport to Mansfield, LA, Marshall, TX and Oil City, LA. Two years later, the company expanded to Monroe, LA, forming one of the longest bus operations in the South.

By 1940, the company operated over 4,300 highway miles in nine states including Mississippi. The total annual mileage was over nine million and they carried over three million passengers a year. In 1940, forty percent of the Tri-State operations were in Mississippi with Jackson as the hub city. As a part of its expanded operations, Tri-State built, in 1940, a new terminal in Shreveport, LA and one in Jackson, MS. They also announced that there was a station under construction in Tallulah, LA, and that they would be building a station in Vicksburg and remodeling a building in Memphis.

Before constructing the new station on Walnut Street, the company used a building that was a half block north, at 800 South Street. Tri-State shared the new building with Delta Transportation Company, headquartered in Greenville, and Cox Motor Coaches, a Vicksburg company. At the same time, their competitor, Dixie Greyhound, operated out of a repurposed building three doors to the north, on the corner of Walnut Street. The Tri-State Station was used as a bus station until 2004, when Greyhound, who then operated out of the station, built a new one in a more accessible location just off of Halls Ferry Road and Interstate 20. They ceased operations in that building in 2022 and it was remodeled into offices. The old Tri-State station was rehabilitated into a coffee shop and was then transformed into apartments.

The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2018 in the areas of transportation and architecture. It is a locally example of the Moderne style and one of only a handful of buildings constructed in the style in Vicksburg and Warren County. The Moderne style which was employed in the United States from about 1930 to 1950, represented the last phase of Art Deco. Whereas Art Deco was concerned with surface ornament, color and abstractions of natural forms applied as decoration on buildings, Moderne was essentially a machine aesthetic focused on mass projection, functional efficiency, and a more abstract approach. Designers of ships, airplanes, and automobiles began to favor simpler, aerodynamic lines and forms. These smooth surfaces, curved corners, on horizontal lines allowed air streams to move smoothly over and around these moving machines.

Within a few years, roadside diners, motels, movie theaters, shopping centers, and air and bus terminals all borrowed forms from these streamlines industrial designs. In addition, prominent expositions during the 1930s, such as the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34, Dallas Centennial Exhibition of 1936, New York World’s Fair of 1939-40, and the San Francisco Exposition of 1939 spread the style.

Characteristics of the style that the Tri-State Station exhibits are a horizontal emphasis, glass block walls, curved canopies, smooth wall finishes, and the use of modern industrial materials such as aluminum, chrome and stainless steel for doors and windows, and casement windows.

The station is also locally significant in the area of transportation because it is the first, and until 2004, the only building constructed as a bus depot in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It is also interesting to note that a beauty shop operated out of the north side of the building until 1970.

Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

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