This is an old postcard which shows a view of the Pagoda Garden from the dining room.
The Jacksonian Highway Hotel was built at 4800 Highway 51 North (later Interstate 55 North), in an area only just beginning to blossom with commercial development. Construction was begun in April 1955. George Wilkinson and his partners at Crestline Development (later known as the Athens Investment Company) set out to build something more than just another motel. Indeed, the Jacksonian was conceived as a “highway hotel” which offered the luxury and service of a traditional hotel with the convenience of parking at one’s door. This was also not simply the product of an anonymous builder, but sprang off the drawing boards of one of Jackson’s most prestigious architectural firms, the offices of N.W. Overstreet. The buildings were built by Wise Construction, a local company and the furnishings and fittings were, as much as possible, locally sourced as well. All told, the cost for a 90 room hotel and restaurant was $700,000, an especially impressive sum when one considers that Dumas Milner (we used to attend parties at his home) paid $1,000,000 to renovate the King Edward (oh I have stories on the King Edward also) and its 400 rooms in 1954-55.
Arrange 6 raw oysters in each of the pans, firmly nestled in the rock salt. Cover each oyster with the sauce, and bake for 10 minutes, until the oysters and sauce are very hot and the top of the sauce is browned. Serve at once. The rock salt helps stabilize the oyster shells as this dish cooks. It's there for support, not seasoning; make sure you don't get any on your oysters, or they'll be too salty.
In a heavy saucepan melt the butter over low heat; do not brown. Add the flour gradually, stirring constantly to keep the mixture smooth. Do not allow the flour to cook. Once all the flour is blended in, gradually pour in the half-and-half, stirring constantly with a wire whisk to keep the sauce perfectly smooth. Move the whisk around in the pan as your stir to blend the sauce at the bottom and sides. Once all the milk has been added, add the bayleaf and cook over low heat until the sauce thickens, then remove from heat and stir in the Tabasco and salt. Blend thoroughly.