Park will take down N. Washington structures|[3/20/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 21, 2005

Some remember a place where workers could get a bite for lunch while others think back to a time when they danced the weekends away, but soon there’ll be nothing left but memories of the place once known simply as Joanna’s.

“You could go in, sit down, have a drink and dance,” said Annie Turner of the vacant Joanna’s Lounge, 1700 N. Washington St., where she used to go dancing every weekend.

“I sure miss it a whole lot. There’s nowhere else to go around here,” Turner said.

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Joanna’s was built in about 1950 and included the restaurant and bar and about 10 motel rooms. In most recent years, it had been owned by Vicksburg resident Lucy Harrel.

It closed about two years ago when those buildings and a handful of nearby parcels were bought by the Vicksburg National Military Park.

Park Historian Terry Winschel said plans are to tear down those structures and landscape the area that is just north of the historic Vicksburg National Cemetery that sits along North Washington Street.

“We want to restore the dignity of our national park’s burial ground,” Winschel said.

He said the park closed business on the last parcel of the three acres next to the cemetery last year. They began buying bits and pieces of the property seven years ago, he said.

Most of the buildings have been condemned as unsafe and almost all contain asbestos, and Winschel said they would be torn down as soon as funding is made available through Congress.

“We’ve had our funding request in now for about two year,” he said.

The entire project including the purchase of the property will cost about $500,000, Winschel said.

Glen Williams, a security guard at Anderson-Tully, said he has seen a lot going on across the street at Joanna’s over the past six years and won’t miss it.

“There use to be a whole lot of fights and stuff over there. Not the sort of place for me,” Williams said.

But, Adolf Williams, a lifelong resident of nearby Kings, said he remembers when Joanna’s was a restaurant where workers at the Vicksburg harbor went for lunch.

“It was a nice place to go eat,” said Adolf Williams. “And they used to rent rooms way back in the day.”