Owning a 100 year old building with history.

101 years ago, this little store (which I’ve deemed the Grocery) sat mostly alone here on the corners of Louisville (old Highway 25) and Greensboro streets. It was a popular spot, where the Livingston family would be sure to greet you on your way into and out of town. There was a hitching post to the right of the store, and a painted sign above the awning. The awning has since been taken down, the sign faded away, but parts of the hitching post still remain.

In 1928, Bishop and Bertha Buckley arrived in Starkville by way of Louisville street. Their first stop in the city limits was at the Grocery to wash dust off of their children before going into town. Four years later, the Buckley’s bought the Grocery from the Livingston’s, and it soon became a Starkville staple. See, the old Starkville High School just across the street was erected in the late 1920’s without a cafeteria, which Mrs. Buckley soon capitalized on. She started making hamburgers daily and would combine the burgers with a coke for a dime. Every day at the sound of the lunch bell, hundreds of students would literally race across the street to be first in line for lunch.

The Original Starkville High School, erected in 1927.

At that time, just about four blocks away was the original location of Starkville’s first Coca-Cola bottling plant (now T.E. Lott). It is rumored that because of the proximity, the Grocery was always one of the first to receive fresh bottles of coke almost daily. It also became one of the first buildings in town to receive a Coca-Cola mural – believed to be painted first in the early 1940’s, and then again, with a slightly different design, in 1950 – which is the mural that’s been preserved on the building to this day. In fact, because of age, if you look closely, you can see bits of the original mural underneath.

The original Starkville (Coca-Cola) Bottling Co., now T.E. Lott.

In the mid-1940’s, a cafeteria was finally incorporated into Starkville High School. When the cafeteria was completed, the administration made a rule that students had to stay on campus for lunch. The students got around this by simply designating one student a day to slip out of class and run across the street to pick up lunch for the rest of their classmates. In 1951, Mr. Buckley passed away, and in 1952, Mrs. Buckley closed the Jr. High Grocery after 20 years of being the Hamburger Queen.

For the next few decades, the building was everything from a TV repair shop to a dance studio to a florist. In fact, the florist partially painted over the Coca Cola mural on the left side of the building in the 1970’s. When I first purchased the property, the mural simply said “JR. HIGH GROCERY Phone: ” and the spot that had the number was covered up by the florist’s mural.

The damaged mural – circa 2018.

It became a personal mystery of mine to find the original phone number and restore the mural. I made friends with a sweet librarian in the Starkville library, who helped me with days of research until we finally found it – a Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph book from 1938. It was less than 25 pages total, and one of the first businesses with a phone in town was the Jr. High Grocery. Phone: 495-J.

Buckley’s Grocery: 495-J

I never really saw myself as a history buff, however, when it intersects with architecture, I immediately become interested. There is a way in which things used to be that we lost somewhere over the years, and although small, it is the reason I keep putting work into this little building. Today, the outside of the building remains identical to the day Mrs. Buckley closed shop in 1952, however, the inside was converted by the previous owner, JW Bruce, into a residence before I purchased the property.

Although hamburgers are not on the menu any longer, a period-correct coke machine does sit in the alley next to the original mural, and just like the Buckley days, kids from Armstrong Middle School swing by every day after class to pick up a coke on their walk home. They’re a little more expensive now – 50 cents instead of five – but I’d like to think that if Mrs. Buckley came by to check on her building, she’d be happy with how things have changed – and how they’ve stayed the same.

Several of you have asked for pictures of the inside. The building was converted to a residence before I bought the property – but there’s still a good bit that I’d like to do.

View of the living room towards kitchen.
View from kitchen facing the living room.
A ladder to a small loft for additional sleeping room.
The master bedroom. The building is 2 bed/2 bath plus a small loft.

Remembering Buckley’s Store

Page 12 – Starkville Daily News – Monday, July 26, 2010

From Days Past….
Submitted by Ruth Morgan
Originally written by Shirley Carley

Monday People – Bertha Buckley

When the Buckley’s opened the store in 1932, there was no cafeteria at the school. The kids used to come in droves at lunchtime. And that is how Mrs. Bertha Buckley became known as the Hamburger Queen. Later, she was called grandmother, not only by scores of borders – mostly college students – she housed through the years. For the 20 years she ran Buckley’s store, Bertha Buckley sold hundreds of hamburgers a day to students at the old school on the corner of Lewisville and Greensboro streets. Later, when the cafeteria was opened, the school officials made a rule that the students could not leave the campus, so they would get one student to slip out and bring their orders. Mrs. Buckley started making hamburger patties at 7:00 a.m. The hamburgers were sold for a nickel. “Sometimes the kids were so jammed in there I thought that the walls would burst,” she said. Mrs. Buckley recalled her 20 years at the store with fondness. “I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. Her days were long, often lasting 18 hours. “We always stayed open for the Starkville football games and did a brisk business then too,” she said.

Mrs. Buckley was born in Desoto where her father, Levi Rhodes, worked for the M&O Railroad. There were three boys and three girls in the family. After finishing 12 grades in the Desoto School at the age of 16, she attended Beeson College in Meridian for two years and passed the state teachers exam.

She taught second and third grade in Lauderdale, Clark and Simpson Counties, marrying Bishop Lyle Buckley, a bookkeeper in 1921. She continued to teach school there for several years until they moved to Florida, where her husband kept books for a firm in Haynes City for three years. They moved to Starkville in 1928 when Mr. Buckley accepted a bookkeeping job with Sanders Cotton Mill. He later worked for the rehabilitation department at Mississippi State College and then bought and ran a daily on [old] Highway 12.

Joe Buckley, one of her sons, who now resides in Long Beach, MS, recalls that his mother told the children about their arrival in Starkville in 1928. She said, “We stopped at a little country store on old Highway 12 to wash the dust off the children.” It turned out that the store was the old Livingston Store. We later bought the store and property on [old] Highway 12.

Mrs. Buckley continued to teach in the city schools after moving to Starkville. She went to school for seven summers and, although she never finished her degree, she received a lifetime teaching certificate. However, the $3 a day she earned as a supply teacher didn’t go far. She decided to buy the store, which was across the street from their home, to help support the family that by then included three sons. Their family later increased again when they brought her husband’s 4-year-old niece to live with them after her mother died.

Those were the busy years for the Buckley’s. Besides tending the store, she sewed for the children and was active in her church and community. The Buckley’s were members of the First Baptist Church and she taught in the beginner and primary departments for 15 years. She was a member of the Live Long and Like It Club and the Roundtable Book Review Club at the church and the American Association of Retired Persons. She was one of eight charter members of the Starkville Home and Garden Club and also belonged to the Starkville Home Demonstration Club.

Mrs. Buckley enjoyed handwork ever since her grandmother taught her to embroider when she was a little girl. In spite of two corneal implants, she still did embroidery, crewel, or cross-stitch.

After her husband died in 1951, Mrs. Buckley closed the store, but continued to rent the building to a variety of businesses. She worked as a secretary for one off the local justices of the peace and later as a secretary in a funeral home and did baby-sitting for many years.

A highlight of every weekday for her was riding the Pilot Club Mini-Bus to the Fellowship Food Center for lunch with friends.

Davane Dorman Remembers

I first ate lunch in Buckley’s Store in 1943. It was R.C. cola and a four-legged-daddy. But then you could get a hamburger for 10 cents and the R.C. was a nickel. You had to run like _ _ _ _ when the lunch bell rang to get to the store first so as not to stand in line. If late, you could be twenty minutes before being served by Mrs. Buckley. If you lost your quarter somewhere between home and lunch, you just went without lunch for Mrs. Buckley didn’t have credit.

Wick Malone Remembers

During the late 1940’s when I was attending Starkville High School, I can remember visiting Buckley’s Store during recess. The students would flock there to buy cokes, nabs, ice cream and candy of all kinds. Ice cream was a nickel for a single dip and a dime for a double dip. Today, the outside of the store still looks the same as it did over 60 years ago.

Jennie Lynn Putt Files Remembers

I remember going to Buckley’s Store every Friday and getting the best old-fashion hamburger you ever tasted. It was just across the street from the school so if you didn’t like what they were serving in the lunchroom, you could go across the street and get one of those delicious hamburgers. Sonny Buckley, their son, was in my class.

Bubba Slaughter Remembers

Buckley’s Store was a gathering place for young people. We would go there and buy an R.C. cola and a four-legged-daddy (a package that contained four cinnamon rolls) and a hamburger.

I remember the Buckley’s lived down the street from the store and they had two sons who helped in the store at times. The store was open all day and back then most people walked everywhere. Many would just take a walk to the store and get a coke and a candy bar.

If you want to read more, see my recap of this story here.
Photo submitted by the Oktibbeha County Historic Museum

Buckley’s Store – A Neighborhood Store on Louisville Street, across from the Old Starkville High School, now the Greensboro Center. The Buckley’s were in business from 1932-1952.

Original Article Scan: here

Buckley’s Store (Jr. High Grocery) as it appeared in 1950 (approx).

The Grocery as it appears today – 2021.

A front view of the Grocery as it stands today.

The right side of the Grocery as it stands today – the Florist mural on this side has been changed to the above, and you can still notice parts of the hitching post near the back of the building.

The damaged and partially panted over mural – 2018.

The period-accurate Vendo 144 coke machine next to the original 1950’s Coca-Cola mural that has been partially restored.

The first time we found a phone number for Buckley’s Grocery.

The original Starkville Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

The original Starkville High School across the street from the Grocery – originally constructed without a cafeteria – in 1927.

Interfacing: Honeywell Vista Alarm + Wink or SmartThings

I hadn’t seen this done before, so I decided to try it on my on. I knew nothing about the Honeywell Vista alarm system about three days ago, and my coding skills are garbage, so don’t let that deter you. A quick summary of what this is:

I’ve created a *very* simple way to interface an “older” alarm system with a “newer” home automation system. This could be expanded greatly, but my requirements were simple. 1) I wanted to be able to arm or disarm my alarm from anywhere in the world and 2) I wanted to be able to incorporate arm/disarm with some home automation (I.e., house arms automatically when deadbolt has been locked.)

I’m using Wink, but any home automation software/hub should work. Wink is a pretty locked down system, but I love the simplicity – it seems to always work, and I find the Wink Relays to be cool. However, if you think Wink is locked down, you haven’t met Honeywell alarm systems. You can get remote access for your panel, but expect to pay for it. I wanted to find a cheap one-time cost solution. I started by ordering a GE Outdoor Smart Switch, a Z-Wave enabled smart device. I chose this particular model because I was pretty sure the case would be big enough to house some additional electronics, and I wanted the set up to be clean. The Z-Wave switch has been modified and an Arduino (I’m actually using an ESP8266) checks the relay state on the Z-Wave switch. The ESP8266 is connected to the Arm Away and Disarm buttons on a Honeywell 5834 keyfob. So, how this works: In the home automation app of your choice, you pair this Z-Wave switch. When the switch is on, the ESP8266 reads that the relay inside of the Z-Wave switch is closed, and it outputs a simulated button press to the Honeywell 5834’s Arm Away button. When you turn the switch off from your home automation app, the opposite happens. The ESP8266 “sees” the relay open and outputs a simulated button press to the Honeywell 5834’s Disarm button. By creating a simple interface through Z-Wave, we have access to our alarms through our home automation apps.

How did I do it? Buy you a Honeywell 5834, a GE Outdoor Smart Switch, an Arduino compatible board of your choice (I’m using the ESP8266 NodeMCU so I can eventually make this a closed loop system), and a 5V USB wall charger.

Let’s begin. Start by opening up your GE Outdoor Smart Switch. It has a seam that goes all the way around – I took a pair of wire cutters and wedged them in the seam to open. Once opened, unscrew the electronics. Let’s take a look around. This design is actually pretty good. They’ve separated their high and low voltage boards, however, my cheap and dirty solution ruins that.


The easiest way that I found for interfacing reliably was checking the status of the relay. This allows us to keep the Smart Switch mostly intact – I wanted a near-foolproof way of making sure this would work reliably. I also originally tried using the 3.3V converter that’s built in to the Smart Switch, but the ESP8266’s initial power draw was too high. Instead of altering the Smart Switch’s converter, I simply used a 5V USB wall charger.