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Video: Plein Air’s Future to Incorporate Yoga Studio, Grocery Store

Mary Arden Guyton
Journalism Student
maguyton@go.olemiss.edu

*Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Oxford Stories

Leighton Wilkie McCool is from a seventh generation Ole Miss family but decided to attend the University of Tennessee and major in journalism. However, Mississippi called her home, and she is now raising three boys, Davis, Merrick, and Wyatt, with her husband, Campbell McCool.

She had the opportunity to travel to many places as a young child, as her father’s journalism career moved her family to Jerusalem so he could cover Middle Eastern politics. She followed in her father’s footsteps to pursue a journalism career and landed her first job four days out of college working for BBDO, a worldwide ad agency.

“My now husband owned a boutique ad agency in Atlanta, McCool Communications, and tried to hire me, away from my global agency,” she said. “I turned him down, but we later started dating instead and got married.”

Leighton McCool is the new owner of Lost Dog Coffee Shop in Plein Air. Photo by Mary Arden Guyton.

Even after all of these adventures, Mississippi always called Leighton McCool back to its warm, sometimes humid, but simplistic lifestyle.

Twenty years ago, Campbell and Leighton McCool bought a 200 acre hayfield as an investment that would one day become what is now Plein Air—a small community in Taylor, Mississippi. The vision came from countless family trips to Seaside, Florida, a well-known community-style beach neighborhood. They didn’t break ground on the project until seven years later, and it took several years to build the infrastructure.

“The concept is that they all have front porches, and in the beginning, we would give each home an old-fashioned bike with a basket because we wanted to promote that lifestyle of riding bikes and creating a community,” McCool said.

The Chapel in Plein Air located near the town square. Photo by Mary Arden Guyton.

Leighton McCool said when her youngest son, Wyatt, graduates from Oxford High School, the couple is looking forward to moving from their Oxford home out to Taylor, where the Plein Air development is located.

“I’m ready to sell what used to be our ‘forever home’ where we raised our three boys to live a simpler, more creative lifestyle eight miles south,” McCool said.

The Plein Air community is not finished. There are many plans to grow this area and make it bigger. The main town square area currently houses Grit Restaurant, Lost Dog Coffee, a wedding chapel and event venue, and a psychology associates office.

Lost Dog Coffee’s specialty pour-over coffee by Onyx coffee. Photo by Mary Arden Guyton.

Leighton McCool runs the coffee shop, which she bought for her 50th birthday this year. The plans for Plein Air include opening a yoga studio within the next year and a market-style grocery store.

“What I love the most about Mississippi is that its home,” she said. “It’s where my family is rooted, for generations. People are kind, welcoming and creative, and the beautiful connections are never ending.”


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