Elmer and Debbie Cochran have graciously donated the Simply Southern Building to the non-profit organization, Main Street Batesville.

“It was our desire to donate our corner to the continued efforts of revitalizing our historic district,” Cochran stated. “We are so proud of this building, and we have such a great Main Street Team that we are confident they will give the Simply Southern building new wings we never dreamed of.”

When the Cochran's purchased the building, their initial idea was to open an upscale gift shop for the community. “My idea was to create a small, cozy corner shop,” she stated. “However, my husband had the idea for a two-story 'Gone With the Wind' spiral staircase layout that housed unique collectibles.”

Cochran's love of music overpowered the idea of a shop, and the 'Simply Southern Playhouse Theatre' was born. On any given Friday night, local bands would come to the 'corner' to perform live music. “It was our little version of the Grand Ole' Opry,” Cochran beamed. “It was a place for those who couldn't travel far to be entertained.”

Cochran gives thanks to volunteers who helped her out as well, and stated that she couldn't have made it happen without them.

“Without Marion Alred, Sandra Faulkner, Beverly Hays, Lucy Williams, Marie Oden and the late David Street, there wouldn't have been any toe tappin', finger snappin', hand clappin' affair,” she laughed.

Cochran's musical journey started to become more and more demanding over time, and she wasn't able to attend the Friday night concerts. “It really bothered us not being there for the local fans,” Cochran said. “It was a very tender heartfelt decision to close.”

Of course, the idea was to always reopen at a later date after Cocran's personal music journey slowed down, but from the looks of things that won't be any time soon. Cochran just released her first Christmas project titled “My Heart at Christmas” with a gospel album shortly following. She felt the time was right to do something with the building that the community could still be a part of. “This building has so many possibilities,” she said. “It has heart and a rich history proving it's true potential.”

Main Street Batesville Executive Director Mandi Curtwright and the Main Street Batesville Board of Directors are excited to embark on this new venture with a building full of history.

“We plan to have our Main Street offices located in this building,” Curtwright explained. “Our goal is to have a museum and gift shop located in the front of the building. We are looking forward to Covid restrictions being lightened, so we can create a space where the community can gather together and enjoy events.”

The Simply Southern Building's history dates back to the late 1800s and has been part of the Maxfield Dry Goods Store, a bank, a Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store, a Crosby Drug Store and a Crosby Soda Fountain.

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