I am delighted that you are visiting the City of Laurel, Mississippi via our new website. As one who was born and raised in Laurel, I am honored to serve as Mayor of the city and, as Mayor, I am proud to share our community with you through this exciting medium.
Laurel began as a small logging town developed amidst the dense pine forests of South Mississippi. Members of prominent timber families from the East and Midwest settled in our area during the early 1800’s and brought with them a great deal of culture, education, and sophistication. The effects of this lofty beginning can be seen in Laurel today.
The Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, the first art gallery in the State of Mississippi, was built in 1923 by two timber families. Today, through the support of the community and under the direction of the Eastman Foundation, the Lauren Rogers Museum boasts an enviable collection of art and attracts thousands of art aficionados each year. Laurel is the home of Metropolitan Opera diva, Leontyne Price and prolific writer and famous author, James Street.
The timber industry gave rise to another facet of Laurel’s proud heritage- inventive intelligence and an entrepreneurial spirit. The Lindsey Log Wagon, which revolutionized early 20th century logging and played a major role in the execution of World War I by the Allies, was invented and manufactured in Laurel. Masonite, the first hard fiberboard was invented here and gave birth to the Masonite Corporation, now an international conglomerate. Today, Laurel is the home of Howard Industries, where a revolutionary innovation for electrical distribution transformers was developed by Laurel’s native son, Billy Howard, who has made that company the largest supplier of transformers in the world.
During the “oil boom” of the ‘50’s, Laurel became a center for oil service companies and once again many families from throughout the United States moved into our community. Many of them chose to remain in Laurel despite transfers and other incentives to leave.
As Mayor of the City of Laurel, I am proud of the quality of life that exists here for families. The Mississippi Municipal League has selected Laurel for its “Most Livable Community” Award three times in the past decade.
Recreation is an important contributor to the quality of life here. Our new Sportsplex is a 140 acre tract that features tennis courts, soccer fields, softball and baseball fields, walking track, and state-of-the-art Natatorium, an Olympic-size indoor pool complete with fitness studio. We offer many other recreational facilities. Each year, Laurel hosts youth baseball tournaments on both the State and National levels. Laurel has been selected as the site of the Mississippi Mixed Doubles Tennis Tournament. The golf course at the Laurel Country Club is among the best in the nation and each year hosts the Legendary Seniors Golf Tournament. One of Laurel’s most revered native sons in the field of athletics is Ralph Boston, the record-setting Olympic gold medal track and field star.
Public safety, excellent healthcare, and effective education are also contributors to the quality of life of our community.
From the beginning Laurel has been a city who welcomes “outsiders” and incorporates them into its very fiber. Our Hispanic population has been welcomed by the community, and we are proud of the way that we have worked with them for the cultural enrichment of us all.
Laurel is also a community noted for its pioneering, forward-looking spirit industrially and culturally. While Laurel appreciates and savors its rich heritage, the very nature of its people is not to be content to revel in past achievements, but rather to see them as an impetus to build an even greater future.
I hope you will consider becoming a member of our exciting community whether as a frequent visitor or as a permanent resident.
Melvin Mack, Mayor
City of Laurel