Lost Mansions of Mississippi, Volume II
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University Press of Mississippi
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In 1996, University Press of Mississippi published my first book, Lost Mansions of Mississippi. It chronicled fifty-nine of the state’s historically and architecturally significant antebellum homes, all vanished victims of neglect, war, fire, or weather. Three years of research and dozens of forays into courthouses, libraries, archives, and private homes yielded photos and background...
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A book such as this can never be done in isolation. Tracing these long-lost houses requires the willingness of countless people to search through their family records or dig in their local archives, and I am grateful to each of those listed here who did just that. Electronic advances in the past fifteen years have made it much easier to share photographs...
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Mississippi is rapidly approaching the two hundredth anniversary of its statehood. That status was endowed just as the cotton gin, the steamboat, the institution of slavery, and the availability of cheap, incredibly fertile land coalesced to rocket the young state into the ranks of America’s...
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Nothing remains of the main house at Laurel Hill, only an empty, rolling field rimmed by three dependencies, each an architectural achievement in its own right. Even the Mississippi River, which originally lured Richard Ellis to this far- flung corner of a young America, has wandered away, shifting from its eighteenth-century bed just a mile or so west of the house to a point four miles distant. When Laurel Hill burned on...
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he term “lost mansion” has many connotations. Most of the homes described in this book have vanished, with only minimal evidence, photo- graphic or structural, that they ever existed at all. But a few remain, lost in the sense that they are uninhabitable and have long since surrendered their status as human shelter. A classic example...
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East of Highway 61 and south of Interstate 20, a sunken road cuts through the heavily wooded hills of Warren County, carrying the traveler miles and years away from the twenty-first century. The roots of ancient oaks are at eye level, their trunks soaring up and meeting in a dense canopy that filters out all but a few rays...
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A stark black-and-white photograph of Lone- wood, taken just before or during the Civil War, justifies the name of this plantation house. The massive double-galleried home is surrounded on all sides by endless cotton fields and trees, with no indication of nearby neighbors in any direction. Its placement was fortunate when the war...
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Charles Clark is buried under a simple obelisk atop an Indian mound in rural Bolivar County. This site on the old Doro Plantation carries no hint of his two-year term as Mississippi’s gover- nor or the tumultuous events that marked his administration. The only information carved into the grave marker are the names of Clark and his wife, along with their birthdates...
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The earliest and most famous antebellum homes in Mississippi were built largely along the Mississippi River, reflecting the population centers near Natchez, Woodville, Port Gibson, and Vicksburg. But after the state capital was moved to Jackson and treaties with the Choctaw and...
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Natchez is one of the most extensively pho- tographed and visually documented cities in America. Its era of architectural dominance, exemplified by such famous houses as Dunleith, Stanton Hall, and Longwood, coincided with the first years of widely available photographic equipment and artists who were eager to use it...
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he flood of cotton money that swept Nat- chez up in a frenzy of mansion-building for five decades preceding the Civil War vanished as quickly as it had come. The years of Reconstruction, soil erosion, and economic doldrums took their toll on the once-grand homes, saddling many a family with a money pit that could never be sated. By 1930, these houses were marked by...
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Madison County is noted for the beautiful antebellum houses of Canton and for its lost mansions, Annandale and Ingleside of the old Mannsdale community, now encompassed by greater Madison. But there was another cluster of homes and wealthy plantations in the far northeast corner of the county, close to the spot where Madison, Attala, and Leake counties of Mississippi and served through two of the...
Austin Moore House
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Marshall County was the epicenter of the land rush that followed the transfer of six million acres of Chickasaw land from that tribe to the U.S. government. On October 20, 1832, the signature of Chief Ishtehotopa was barely dry before set- tlers and speculators from the old Atlantic Coast states rushed pell-mell into north Mississippi, frantic to scoop up the available plots that were would boast the largest white population in the entire state, growing from fewer than four...
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Jefferson County is a remote and hauntingly quiet region of southwest Mississippi, an almost forgotten land tucked between Natchez and Vicksburg. A few large plantation manors can still be found near Church Hill and Fayette, but for the most part there are few traces of the cot- ton fortunes which were once made here. This county was the site of one of the most mysterious and troubling sagas to emerge from County...
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Mississippi College is the oldest existing colle- giate-level school in the state, tracing its roots all the way back to Hampstead Academy in 1826. The citizens of Mt. Salus, frustrated in their attempt to claim designation as the capital city...
O.J. Moore House
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In 1938, the Works Progress Administration issued a series of extensive guides to individual states, including Mississippi. The time period during which these books were being compiled coincided with the last days of many of the state’s antebellum mansions, and often a brief refer- ence to a house in the WPA guide is the only remaining clue that such a structure ever existed. Almost every community in Mississippi rates...
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Among the treasures of the Gandy collection is an 1891 map labeled “Map of the City of Natchez and Suburbs.” It resembles a patchwork quilt, with pastel rectangles, trapezoids, and oddly shaped parcels of land. Each is meticulously hand-lettered in tiny script with the names of...
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The antebellum homes which lined the beach boulevards from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula weathered a number of hurricanes before Katrina decimated their numbers in August 2005. Those concentrated in the counties which allowed casino gambling had also survived the encroaching sea of asphalt and neon that followed...
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North of Holly Springs, just a few miles up Highway 311 toward Mount Pleasant, the road takes a sweeping curve to the east for no apparent reason. There are no visible obstacles or natural barriers that would explain this detour, and it just appears that the highway engineers were having a bad day when they laid out this section of road. What is not evident is that there was once a vast fruit orchard on this very spot...
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Most of the seven million acres that comprise the Mississippi Delta region were still uninhabitable when the Civil War began. Snake-infested bayous and sluggish creeks provided some limited transportation, but their predilection to jump their banks in the spring made the surrounding farmland more trouble than it seemed...
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Holly Springs is a hidden trove of outstanding antebellum architecture, rivaling Natchez and Columbus in quality if not in publicity. This was a town that grew out of the wilderness in the mid-1830s and within ten years was producing more cotton and money than any other county in the state. Most of its original communities, bearing names like Slayden, Mount Pleasant, Hudsonvilleand two daughters, came to dominate the social...
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The Gulf Coast of Mississippi developed as an antebellum playground for the elite families of New Orleans and Mobile, providing a relatively healthy haven from the heat, mosquitoes, and crowded urban conditions that prevailed in those cities each summer. The famous “Six Sisters” of Bay St. Louis, Pass Christian, Mississippi City, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, and Pascagoula grew as...
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Many, if not most, of the antebellum mansions of Mississippi were built by carpenters who arrived with little or no formal architectural training. There were exceptions, especially in the more populated areas such as Natchez and Jackson. Levi Weeks left a thriving New York practice...
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Charles Dahlgren built two houses. One is instantly recognizable as a symbol of Natchez and the Greek Revival era. The other was an odd mishmash of Italianate and cottage styles, long forgotten and known only to the most avid stu- dents of antebellum architecture. Dahlgren was an intense and volatile char- acter, a Pennsylvania native who mastered the banking trade with financier Nicholas Biddle....
Colonel Thomas White House
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Lost houses are not a rarity in Mississippi. The antebellum townhouses and plantation mansions that dotted the landscape in the mid-1800s were not valued in the early twen- tieth century, and those that didn’t burn were frequently torn down with no controversy. At the sites, even decades later, a foundation may...
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here is a haunting photograph in Martin Dain’s 1964 Random House book, Faulkner’s County: Yoknapatawpha. In sterile black-and-white, the Shipp House seems to stare from the page, its ruined front door framed by a long line of per- fectly spaced cedars which appear to march right through the portico and into the empty hallway. left his successful Nashville practice and relocated...
Turner Lane House
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At the end of the Civil War, Mississippi was overwhelmed with problems. State government was crippled, the economy had collapsed, and thousands of Confederate veterans were limp- ing home with serious injuries to face fields that hadn’t been worked in years and businesses that had vanished...
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On the eastern edge of the Ole Miss campus, just where it merges seamlessly with Oxford, the Mary Buie Museum is a quiet oasis of culture, history, and art. Nearby are the Stark Young House and Memory House, two of the city’s finest Victorian homes and reminders that an equally great house was lost in the creation of the Buie Museum. The Skipwith sisters left an admirable legacy to Oxford and the university...
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Swan Lake is a long, narrow oxbow, curling in on itself like a reclining snake. Just above its northern tip, not far from the tiny community of Jonestown, an Indian mound breaks the flat horizon of the Delta. And atop that burial mound is a marble image of a stout gentleman, gazing toward the lake with a sheaf of vital papers in his left hand...
Delta Psi House
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One of the most unusual and historic buildings on the Ole Miss campus occupied the site on the edge of the Hilgard Cut, just beyond the bridge that connected the campus to the city of Oxford. The dramatic Delta Psi House, destroyed by fire in 1943, was temporarily the home of William Faulkner, his parents and brothers...
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Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2010