2011


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Amzie Moore Home

1941

Cleveland, Bolivar County

The Amzie Moore Home in Cleveland, was the home of Amzie Moore, a man described as a “civil rights giant.” Moore was born in 1911 and after graduating from Stone Street High School in Greenwood, he was hired as a custodian at the United States Post Office. Through hard work he was able to become a successful businessman, owning a gas station and a beauty salon.

The Moore Home, built in 1941, was the first brick home built by an African American in Cleveland and he was the first African American to receive a government sponsored home loan. After serving in the Army Air Force, Moore returned to Cleveland and became a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He worked for voting rights, social justice, economic development, education and better employment opportunities for African Americans.

In 1950, he cofounded the Regional Council of Negro Leadership (RCNL) which hosted public meetings where prominent speakers, including Thurgood Marshall, addressed Delta audiences. The RCNL also held voter registration classes, including some in Moore’s home. He served as the first president of the Cleveland NAACP as well as Vice-President of the State Conference of the NAACP.

The many people who visited Amzie Moore in his Cleveland home include Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, Medgar Evers, Stokely Carmichael, Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King. This house, which is important to the Civil Rights movement, is threatened by deferred maintenance, water damage, and the ill-effects of vandalism.

2017 Update – SAVED

The Amzie Moore House restoration is 90% complete. The house has been restored into a museum and is expected to be open to the public fall 2015. Restoration was funded through a civil rights grant through Archives and History. The home will be a monument to the contributions that Amzie Moore made. The house will be part of the Civil Rights Trail and will highlight the life and contributions that Amzie Moore made.


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Austin House

c. 1855

Ocean Springs, Jackson County

Believed to have been built by prominent New Orleans physician Dr. William Glover Austin in the 1850s, the house on Martin Avenue is among the oldest in Ocean Springs. Born in Maryland, Dr. Austin received his medical degree from Baltimore’s Washington University and practiced medicine in Yazoo County, Mississippi, before relocating to New Orleans about 1840. As a member of the New Orleans Board of Health and an officer of the Charity Hospital, he was particularly interested in the treatment of communicable and epidemic diseases. In 1853 Austin established a hotel in present-day Ocean Springs to capitalize on the healing qualities of the area’s many mineral springs, and it was from the name of his large hostelry, the Ocean Springs Hotel, that the community eventually derived its name.

The house built by Austin is a story-and-a-half Greek Revival structure with a square-columned, undercut gallery spanning the width of the front façade. A pair of dormers pierce the steeply pitched gable roof, while pairs of floor-length windows flank the central entrance, which is framed by a transom and sidelights. The original floor plan follows the arrangement typical of its era and style, with a wide central corridor, flanked by two rooms on either side facilitating the maximum flow of cooling breezes through the building.

2017 Update – No Progress

During Hurricane Katrina, several feet of flood water inundated the house, damaging siding, doors, windows, plaster walls, and portions of the foundation. Sections of roofing were blown off, allowing torrential rain to damage ceilings.
No progress has been made. The owner is still contemplating demoloshing but is open to the idea of selling it.


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Ceres Plantation

c. 1860

Flowers, Warren County

Ceres Plantation, located north of Interstate 20 at Flowers, Mississippi, was established by the Flowers family after they moved to Warren County from North Carolina in the 1820’s. The name comes from Ceres, the mythological Roman goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.

Although the Flowers family apparently lived on the property since the 1820s, the current one-and-a-half story, center-hall, double-pile, galleried, Greek Revival planters cottage, appears to be either a substantial reworking of an earlier house or, more likely, was newly constructed circa 1860. The house survived the war and apparently served as safe haven for refugees fleeing Vicksburg during its siege by Union forces in 1863. After the war, the family’s economic interests moved beyond agriculture into various other businesses. In 1935, Uriah Grey Flowers, retired from his business ventures and focused his attention on operating the plantation.

The plantation remained in the Flowers family until 1986 when the Warren County Port Commission acquired the property and developed the Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex. Despite its temporary use as first a restaurant and then a plant nursery, the Port Commission has no long term plans for the preservation of the house and outbuildings, and consequently plans to demolish the complex.

Ceres Plantation is a rare surviving example of a mid 19th to early 20th century plantation complex in Warren County Mississippi. Despite a rehabilitation in the late 1970s that added the two flanking wings and made other modifications to the house, it still retains much of its original character and is significant in its own right, both for its architecture and its history. In addition, the barns and other outbuildings on the former plantation are also significant in that they show the continuation of the agricultural use of the property for over 150 years.

2017 Update – Lost

Ceres Plantation was demolished by the Warren County Port Commission in July 2012.


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Chickasaw Old Town

Tupelo, Mississippi

In the 1786 Treaty of Hopewell, the Chickasaw Nation’s vast 37,000 square mile territory was first legally recognized by the fledgling United States. The Chickasaws’ land extended over what is now north Mississippi, northwest Alabama, western Tennessee, and into Kentucky. All of this was defended from the great town or capital of the Chickasaw people located at presentday Tupelo, Mississippi. Numerous Chickasaw tribal towns occupied lands in the vicinity of Tupelo and Pontotoc, but chief among these was Chokkilissa’, or “the silent house.” Chokkilissa’-Old Town is the largest remaining contiguous site that outstandingly exemplifies and commemorates eighteenth-century Chickasaw culture. The Chokkilissa’-Old Town site includes the archaeological remains of the villages that comprised the political and cultural capital of the Chickasaw people during most of the 1700s. This cluster of aggregated village sites originally included wooden stockade forts, hundreds of Chickasaw houses and related structures, horticultural plots, and Chickasaw graves. At its peak during the 1730-1770 period, Chokkilissa’-Old Town contained the entirety of the Chickasaw population remaining in Mississippi and many of the Chickasaw leaders were either born or resided there for a time. Important historical events associated with Chokkilissa’-Old Town include the 1736 Battle of Ogoula Tchetoka with the French, and later the negotiation and signing of several major land cession treaties with the United States. Through these treaties and the 1832 Treaty of Pontotoc Creek, the Chickasaws peacefully gave up their sacred homeland for the new Americans to resettle. Today the Chokkilissa’-Old Town site faces continuing threats from many types of encroachments associated with economic development. Old Town has been damaged and portions destroyed by commercial, residential, and government agency-related developments. The site remains a sacred place to Chickasaws today, containing the bones of many of their ancestors and the location of momentous events of warfare, diplomacy, and cultural coalescence that still loom large in tribal history and identity. If tribal, national, state, and local interests can successfully collaborate to preserve Chokkilissa’-Old Town, this preservation effort could lead to a flagship historical heritage park for Northeast Mississippi and the Chickasaw people.

2017 Update – In Progress

The City of Tupelo has adopted a sensitive approach to development – “look first, then develop.” Recently protection has been put into place; Tupelo has implemented a policy requiring unmarked graves to be “considered” before approving building permits. The majority of the 30 acres of Chickasaw Old Town is privately owned and is in agricultural.  Dr. Brad Lieb, an archaeologist for the Chickasaw Nation recently submitted an archaeological study to the National Park Service with the hope of Chokkilissa’-Old Town becoming a National Historic Land Mark. Unfortunately, not all of the landowners associated with the Chickasaw site were willing to sign off on its National Land Mark designation; putting that effort on hold.  Dr. Lieb still has hope the land can be saved from development and used as a public green space.


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Fielder and Brooks Drug Store

1879

Meridian, Lauderdale County

The Fielder and Brooks Drug Store is an unassuming building located in the Urban Center National Register Historic District in Meridian. The two-story commercial building clad in stucco was constructed in 1879. A plaque on the second story façade lists the architect and builder as L. Scully, the same man who built the Cohn Sheehan buildings across the street.

The building is located in Meridian’s traditionally African American business district. For decades the building housed the Fielder and Brooks Drug Store run by African American businessmen. It is also extremely significant as it was part of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. In 1964 the Meridian chapter of the Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) moved their office to the second floor above the drug store. Civil Rights activities in east-central Mississippi were organized from here and it also had a community center with donated books housed on shelves built by Mickey and Rita Schwerner. In June of 1964 Civil Rights activists Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman left Meridian from the COFO office for Neshoba County where they were arrested and killed.

The building has undergone some changes over the years but still retains its important significance tied to the African American business community of Meridian and the Civil Rights movement. As the building is not being used, deterioration will take its toll if unchecked, and there is currently a hole in the roof allowing water to penetrate the building.

The Fielder and Brooks building, along with others in the historic African American commercial district, has been identified in a study exploring redeveloping the area and building a Freedom Park related to the Civil Rights struggle in Meridian. If resources can be found to make that happen, the Fielder and Brooks Drug Store could become a central part of the redevelopment, with the restoration of the COFO office for exhibits and interpretation so people can learn more about the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi in a significant location where it took place.

2017 Update – Lost

After the roof caved in, the Fielder and Brooks Drug Store was deemed structurally unsound and demolished in 2014.


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Holtzclaw Mansion

Utica, Hinds County

The Holtzclaw Mansion is the last remnant of the Utica Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Women and Men founded in 1903 by William Holtzclaw. Holtzclaw was born in 1870 in Roanoke, Alabama to illiterate sharecroppers. At the age of 20 William left to attend the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute and study under Booker T. Washington.

After three failed attempts to open a school in Mississippi, Holtzclaw opened the Utica Normal and Industrial Institute for Colored Women and Men in a one-room cabin. The school grew and in 1907 Holtzclaw raised the funds necessary to purchase land about five miles south of Utica for a new campus. Around 1915 Holtzclaw developed his plans for the Holtzclaw Mansion and it is believed that student and community labor helped construct the house. The Holtzclaw Mansion is vernacular in style with Greek Revival, Colonial Revival, Victorian and Classical influences. The large two-story building was constructed of brick with a gable front and a one-story porch that wraps around both sides of the house. The house has sixteen rooms and was used as the residence for Holtzclaw’s family, as classrooms, and for special events.

In 1943, Holtzclaw passed away and his son occupied the house until 1946 when the Mansion was used as the Ginn Line Elementary School. The elementary school closed in 1966 and in 1982 Holtzclaw’s college became a campus for Hinds County Community College.

The Mansion, designated a Mississippi Landmark, is the last building left from Holtzclaw’s College and unfortunately Hinds County Community College has no use for the Mansion which has been left to deteriorate. The rear of the building has collapsed and without stabilization or a plan to rehabilitate the building this very important building constructed by an important African American educator could be lost forever.

2017 Update – Lost

The Holtzclaw Mansion on the Utica campus of Hinds County Community College was demolished in 2014.


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Lewis House (Oldfields)

Oldfields was constructed circa 1845 as the residence of Alfred E. Lewis, an important GulfCoast planter, merchant, politician, and Civil War officer.  The Greek Revival house is illustrative of the Coastal idiom of the style, having columned undercut galleries across both front and rear elevations.  Its front gallery affords stunning views to the water, taking full advantage of the picturesque setting facing the Mississippi Sound.

Perhaps even more significant than its architecture are the people who inhabited the house.  In addition to his extensive economic enterprises, Lewis at various times served as county tax collector, postmaster, and state representative.  In 1861 he was a signer of Mississippi’s Ordinance of Secession, raised his own regiment known as the Live Oak Rifles, and rose to the rank of colonel in the Confederate service.

In 1906 the house was acquired by the parents of Agnes (Sissie) Grinstead, who later married renowned artist Walter Anderson.  For several years in the 1940s the Andersons lived at Oldfields with Sissie’s family, during which time Walter Anderson did some of his most important artistic work.

Because of the house’s location near the water, Hurricane Katrina’s winds and tidal surge inflicted severe damage.  Porch flooring and clapboards were ripped off, the huge hand-hewn sills were exposed, many windows were broken, interior floors buckled, and plaster ceilings and walls were soaked.  Despite a restoration grant offered by the Department of Archives and History, due to litigation over the property’s ownership, no restoration or stabilization work was undertaken.  Loss of Oldfields would be another tragic, and needless, casualty of Hurricane Katrina.

2015 Update - No Progress

Oldfields remains open to the elements, continuing to deteriorate. This property is currently on the market for $499,000.


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Markham Hotel

Gulfport, Harrison County

The eight story Markham Hotel in Gulfport, Mississippi was built in 1926. It was designed by Chicago architect Benjamin H. Marshall. The firm of Marshall & Fox were designers of many lavish hotels and apartment buildings across the United States including Chicago’s Drake Hotel, and Philadelphia’s Schaff Building. The firm partnered with Mississippi architect N.W. Overstreet to assist in the project. The Markham Hotel is one of two hotels designed by Marshall built on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the other one, the Edgewater Gulf Hotel in Biloxi, was demolished. The Markham Hotel was named in honor of Charles H. Markham, the former President of the Illinois Central Railroad.

When the hotel opened to the public on January 31, 1927, it was a central figure in a bustling and thriving downtown. It featured many of the amenities of the day; a large lobby with a grand staircase lined with marble and wood paneling, a swimming pool, a roof top terrace, and several dining establishments.

The hotel changed ownership in the 1960’s when it was acquired by Security Savings and Loan. It was then transformed into an office building in the 1970’s. The building saw a renovation in 1987 and was rechristened the Markham Building. It continued to operate as office space until Hurricane Katrina caused significant damage in 2005. The Markham still remains much as it did after Katrina. As has been the case with numerous buildings along the coast, the need to “clean up” the damage from the storm has threatened the survival of this local landmark and last of the great coastal resort hotels of the 1920s.

2017 Update – In Progress

According to an August 25, 2017, atricle in the Sun Herald. The Marham Hotel is going to be restored and reopen under the high-end hotel chain Hyatt Place! Construction on the $30 million project is scheduled to begin in early 2018.


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Mount Holly

Washington County

Located in Washington County, Mount Holly was built in 1858 for Margaret Johnson Erwin Dudley, daughter of Henry Johnson, one of the largest early landholders in the Delta. In the 1880s, ownership transferred to William Hezekiah Foote and Huger Lew Foote, prominent planters and politicians. During the Mississippi River flood of 1927 Mount Holly was used as headquarters for relief committees.

Mount Holly is a large, asymmetrical two-story, common-bond brick structure consisting of approximately 30 rooms. One of the few remaining antebellum houses of mansion scale in the Delta, this rural Italianate villa was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The design of the house was based on a published design by Calvert Vaux. Along with Ammadelle in Oxford – also designed by Vaux – Mount Holly is one of the state’s best examples of the Italian villa style of architecture. The main entrance to Mount Holly is through a Palladian type archway in the center pavilion projecting from the facade. The exterior is also characterized by semi-hexagonal windows with carved lintels; wooden balustrades and a balcony railing of iron grillwork; regularly spaced pairs of brackets visually supporting overhanging eaves; and prominent chimneys further emphasized by paneled stucco and brick dentils.

Currently, Mount Holly is unoccupied and suffers from the damages of neglect by an absentee owner. Attempts by groups and individuals to reach out to the owner to either assist with the buildings preservation or to seek information about purchasing the property have, so far, gone mostly unanswered while this important antebellum house sits deteriorating.

2017 Update – Lost

Left open to the elements and easy prey for vandals, Mount Holly was engulfed by fire on July 17, 2015.  Preservationist in Washington County could not report any information on the state of the ruins of Mount Holly in 2017.


Prospect Hill

Standing in the midst of deep forest in Jefferson County, the house and cemetery at Prospect Hill today seem serene, only hinting at a past both violent and paradoxically hopeful.

The existing Prospect Hill Plantation house was built ca. 1854 by Isaac Ross Wade, grandson of the original owner of the plantation, Revolutionary War veteran Isaac Ross. Ross was a member of the Mississippi Colonization Society, which in the early 19th century sought to “repatriate” freed slaves to a colony on the West African coast, today’s nation of Liberia. Ross’s will directed that after his daughter’s death, Prospect Hill should be sold, and that those among his more than 200 slaves who chose to emigrate to Liberia should be freed, with their colonization funded by the proceeds of the plantation’s sale.

Ross’s grandson contested the will in court, seeking to prevent the sale of the plantation and the freeing of the slaves. With the case tied up in litigation for a decade, the house burned down during a slave uprising in April 1845. A young girl died in the fire, and a group of slaves who were said to have orchestrated the uprising were subsequently lynched. In 1848 the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Ross’s and his daughter’s wills and ordered the plantation sold and the slaves freed, many of which made the journey to Liberia.

Even in its current deteriorated condition and with damage from a tree that fell on the front gallery, the core of the Prospect Hill house that Wade erected circa 1854 is structurally sound, and retains much of its original Greek Revival detail. Among the graves at the nearby plantation cemetery (also in disrepair, and endangered by falling trees) are the graves of the young girl, Isaac Ross Wade, and Isaac Ross, the latter of whom is commemorated by a monumental obelisk erected by the Mississippi Colonization Society.

2017 Update – In Progress

The Archaeological Conservancy acquired the property and is working to save this special historic place. Back in a January of 17, 2014 meeting of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History Board of Trustees, Prospect Hill was listed as a Mississippi Landmark and awarded a $50,000 stabilization grant with a 20% match. Since then the property has been cleaned up, and the house has been stabilized. Through Jessica Crawford’s stewardship, Prospect Hill with the help of a Mississippi Landmark Grant from MDAH was able to put on a new roof.  The Conservancy hopes to do more work on the gutters soon. The house has been temporarily weatherproofed, and all the salvageable wood has been termite treated and restored. The Archeological Conservancy is looking for a “history friendly” buyer for the house and property (23.4 acres) who will continue the restoration and is willing to open Prospect Hill to the public occasionally. Recently the cemetery has benefited from a much-needed monument repair. Jessica Crawford is looking into putting together a restoration plan of action to give to prospective buyers.


Laura Beth Lott