A Hidden Treasure in Downtown Laurel is Revealed

The "V" - Downtown LaurelA formerly sleeping giant, stretching and dusting himself off, is awakening to a brighter, more vastly promising era. As seasons have changed and years have rolled by, the clock has begun ticking again after ages of standing still.

For decades, diners at Cafe La Fleur have passed unknowingly by one of Laurel’s hidden treasures. Housed just feet from where they stood on the sidewalk, or behind their backs as they waited for a table, were remnants of times gone by in the City Beautiful.

Old furniture, stacks and stacks of lumber housed for generations, pieces and parts of long-obsolete appliances and other household items – all sat quietly collecting dust just beyond the hidden walls between the beloved cafe and Big Chief’s Furniture building.

The address of this sleeping giant?

315 1/2 North Magnolia St.

The hidden warehouse features exposed brick walls, original wood floors, countless vintage odds and ends, and wooden stairs built by Mr. Lott himself, leading up to the loft above including a skylight. It even features an interior wall with the recognizable star-shaped anchor plates on the exterior of Café La Fleur.

The "V" - Downtown Laurel

It has no façade or storefront, with only a set of large, wooden double-doors in the alley behind Lott – often photographed by unknowing photographers as they capture the beauty of Downtown’s largest alley.

Visitors pass through the creaking wooden doors into a time-capsule of Laurel’s history.

As they move further into the building, something unique begins to set in. The walls meet together in a sharp 24 degree point rather than opening onto Magnolia Street. For this reason, this hidden treasure has long been known as “The V.”

Stories of “The V”

Passed down from word of mouth and fading memories, we’ve gathered up many of the prior uses for the building. We know that Mr. Lott bought The V before the 50s’ for the purpose of storage, lockers for our route-men, and a place to repair furniture.

Old-timers tell tales of The V sporting a secret speakeasy during Prohibition, and it being a place where race relations were friendlier after the turn of the century.

And now, through a very special partnership, you will have the opportunity to own a piece of this incredible, yet largely unknown, part of our town’s beautiful history.

A new partnership, and new life for Downtown Laurel’s most unique building.

Chad Evans - Woodworking - Laurel MS

We are collaborating with Chad Evans, local wood-worker and craftsman, to transform The V into his workshop and a place solely for creation and artistry.

The integrity of the building has been carefully maintained, only cleaned out to make room for Chad’s tools and supplies.

This Saturday, November 26, we have come up with a very special product to share with you all for this year’s Small Business Saturday.

We have asked Chad to gather up some of the 100 year old wood from the rafters of The V and create a limited number of simple, rustic Christmas ornaments.

Christmas Ornaments from The "V" - Downtown LaurelChristmas Ornaments from The "V" - Downtown Laurel

Come see us this Saturday during Small Business Saturday, to purchase one of these rare, one-of-a-kind ornaments so you can have your own piece of Laurel’s story on your tree! Supplies are very limited, so don’t wait!

– Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.

Honoring Nellie Rowell: The Leading Ladies Series

Nellie RowellShe attacks challenges with a beautiful ferocity that is matched by no one. She is the matriarch, the figurehead, and the unflinching leader that is vital in every story. And in Lott’s story, she is Nellie Rowell.

A caretaker of Lott Furniture and local fixture for over 58 years, Nellie was well-known and well-loved in Laurel. She was all of the values that we hold tightly to and strive to uphold. She was humble, hard-working, unshakably steadfast, and the strongest of leaders.

In our retelling of our storied past, we told of her resilience and leadership:

In the late 40s, Nellie Rowell moved to Laurel from her hometown of Newton, Mississippi to seek any work she could find. In her early 20s, unexpectedly left by her husband, and a newly single mother of two children, Nellie came to Mr. Lott with just a high school diploma and a promise of devotion to her job. She worked steadfastly and unflinchingly for 58 years, becoming a figurehead, and a dog-eared page in the Lott Furniture story.

In 1983, Nellie’s longtime coworker and friend, Bernie Stockman passed away, leaving Nellie in need of help. Three of her children became regular employees during these years, filling roles she couldn’t by herself. Her sons Bobby and Rodney made deliveries and worked as outside salesmen, and Rodney’s wife Angie assisted her in the office. Reuben Lott and his wife Blondie both passed away in the late 80s, leaving a new family to be protectors of the Lott legacy.

A new story to tell.

Laurel is rich with hundreds of pages collected and shared by many mouths, that form this big story that’s worth telling. It’s old souls spinning yarns out on the porch to little ones, just hoping that their words never collect dust. It’s friends sharing fond memories of childhood and natives welcoming the newcomers who are writing their very first words on their pages.

As we near the turning point, the climax, of the story of our little town, we find that many of our most treasured pages are women.

In our new blog series entitled “Leading Ladies,” Laurel women who exude the qualities above will be highlighted and honored and get the opportunity to share their stories with us. Our town would not be what it is, and what it’s becoming, without these mighty women, our Leading Ladies.

The women in this series pull on our hearts and remind us of Nellie.

If she were still with us, we believe her vision for Laurel would line up with ours closely.

We are hopeful for a future filled with new beginnings and great success but still hold tight to what we have and honor these things wholeheartedly. We hope you will help us honor those women among us who are helping to make it happen, and that you will join us in writing new stories yet to be told.

Have someone in your life who represents the strength and vision of Nellie Rowell? Click here to nominate her now.

– Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.

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