Architectural Twins: Natchez’s Legitimate Siblings?

Gerard Brandon V House 703  N. Union Street Natchez, Adams County.  Photo by T. Brown, Historic Natchez Foundation

Gerard Brandon V House 703 N. Union Street Natchez, Adams County. Photo by T. Brown, Historic Natchez Foundation. Nov. 2012

In my post “Happy Hanukkah Y’all” one of the buildings featured was the Gerard Brandon V house designed by the firm Weiss, Dreyfous, & Seiferth. It’s a handsome house that I had seen before but never really studied before writing the previous post. The Upriver Residential National Register Historic District Nomination describes the house as being:

One-story stuccoed-brick residence with gabled and hipped red-tile roof, semi -circular windows above glazed doors, ‘and parapet walls. Spanish Colonial Revival. Architects: Weis, Dreyfus, and Seiferth of New Orleans. 1926.

Well apparently someone had studied this house in great detail when it was new because just four blocks south of the Gerard Brandon V House sits this building…

311 N. Union Street Natchez, Adams County.  Photo by T. Brown, Historic Natchez Foundation

311 N. Union Street Natchez, Adams County. Photo by T. Brown, Historic Natchez Foundation. Nov. 2012

While the Gerard Brandon V House was built in 1926, the MDAH HRI database estimates that the house at 311 N. Union was built around 1935. The Natchez On-Top-Of-The-Hill National Register Historic District Nomination describes the house as being:

One- story brick residence with gabled tile roof with parapet gable ends. Spanish Colonial Revival.

The major (and most obvious) difference between the two buildings is the exterior cladding. 703 Union appears to be solid masonry construction with a coat of stucco. According to the Sanborn maps the house at 311 Union is a brick veneer, meaning that the house is wood framed with a layer of brick on the outside. It’s tough for me to pick which cladding I like the best. But other than the cladding and a few differences in the fenestration they appear to be almost the same, right down to the flat roofed sun porch on the south side of the structure and a detached garage in the back.

While I have no primary sources to back up the following, the scuttlebutt is that the design for 311 N. Union was lifted from the plans of 703 N. Union. To add insult to injury Union is a one-way street so one passes the “Homage” house first and might be more likely to think the 703 N. Union House was the copy. I don’t know the whole story but it sure sounds like an interesting one that produced two beautiful twins.

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Categories: Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Natchez

13 replies

  1. I definitely like 703 the best–the stucco finish just seems more aesthetic, as well as suit the style. The lack of space above the windows and the roofline on 311 makes it seem squished to me also.

  2. I’ll go with 703 as well. The stucco seems appropriate for the house. I’m trying to remember these houses from the time I lived in Natchez. Fascinating twins!

  3. The MDAH HRI database is off by at least five years in its estimation of the building date of the house at 311 N. Union: the family that built it was residing there on 4 April 1930 when the U.S. census enumerator dropped by.
    Although the exterior lacks stucco, the interior walls are beautifully stuccoed and the interior trim, crafted from “red gum,” retains its original finish.

    • I should have been more clear and cited the whole MDAH HRI database as it says “circa 1935″. The census record does lend a bit of credibility to the story of the houses being built about the same time.

      Thank you for the insight on the interior! That makes me wonder what the original interior trim of 703 N. Union is crafted out of.

  4. I’m still scouring my dictionary for the meaning of “legimate” (or did we neglect to cross a “ti”?).

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