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The Cotton District is a community in Starkville, Mississippi, that stands as an example of Traditional Neighborhood Development. Founded by Daniel Camp, the Cotton District has been praised for incorporating traditional architectural styles in a close-knit, vibrant, and walkable community.
In 1926, the Sanders family of Starkville purchased a plot of land on which they constructed a cotton mill. As demand for their signature Sanders Chambray increased, the Sanders Family Cotton Mill expanded factory operations and constructed tenement housing to house its workers. However, as demand for Sanders Chambray decreased entering the 1950s, the Mill closed its doors in 1964 with most of its housing in a state of disrepair.
By 1967, Starkville adopted urban renewal policies, which designated a small neighborhood between Mississippi State University and downtown Starkville as blights to be demolished and redeveloped. However, as the urban renewal lines were drawn, a small section of the neighborhood was left out of the plan and subsequently purchased by Camp in 1969.
Drawing inspiration from his travels to Europe; Charleston, South Carolina; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Alexandria, Virginia, Camp incorporated Greek Revival, Victorian, and vernacular styles of architecture into existing residences. Camp also built statuaries, courtyards, fountains, and parks interspersed throughout the neighborhood. He maintained the narrow street grid of the historic neighborhood, cultivating a walkable, pedestrian-friendly environment.
The Cotton District features 175 duplexes, four-plexes, town houses, and single-family cottages and is home to the annual Cotton District Arts Festival, hosting 40,000 annual attendees. Of the Cotton District, founder Daniel Camp said “What we’ve ended up doing is creating a neighborhood that’s a very walkable neighborhood, a neighborhood that is built to human scale, a neighborhood that defies all Southern building codes in regard to closeness of the street, the narrow streets, the sidewalks, the placement of the house according to human scale.”
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