The Hermitage, Pearl River County’s most historic site, is for sale. I don’t know the exact asking price, except that it’s beyond me (only because my portfolio has taken such a hit, I mean, Bernie Madoff and all those other crooks made off with my millions, so that I can’t even keep my maid-service and driver, much less buy another house . . .), but whatever the price is, the property is worth it. I recently had the opportunity to visit the house and grounds and just fell in love with the place. The site was settled in the the 1850s, and was the birthplace and home of Eliza Jane Poitevent, known by her pen-name Pearl Rivers. She was the first woman publisher of a major newspaper, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. You can read more about her here.
Later, in the early 20th-century, the property came into the hands of the Crosby lumbering family, and according to who you ask, they either did a major remodel of the earlier home or built a new one from scratch. Whatever the case, they did a beautiful job and they showed their love of wood–the house has parquet floors throughout and a library that will make you abandon all this web-surfing and just sit in a leather chair and read for the rest of your life. And for those of us who like such things, it even has beautiful tiled bathrooms, probably from the 1930s or 40s.
As great as it is, though, the house is not the star of the show. The lazy Hobolochitto (isn’t that a great name?) winds around on two sides of the property, and the site is beautifully landscaped to take advantage of this vintage Mississippi scene. Stairs descend through several terraces, opening onto a patio that reaches out to the river and a grass lawn that would be great for parties with all your friends and family (presuming you have more friends and family than I do). In addition, there’s a pool, a pool house larger than my non-pool-house, and a great gate, which all private estates need, of course.
Check out the real estate listing for more info. If you don’t want to give me the money outright to buy the place (I’m good for it, but some people have trust issues), you can buy it yourself, and I’ll be your gardener and pool-man. I’ll keep the place up while you jet around the world and you can come home whenever you want to sit and watch the river roll by.
Categories: Cool Old Places, For Sale, Historic Preservation, Hurricane Katrina
One of the big myths of the Hermitage is that Eliza Jane Poitevent was born and grew up there. She was born in 1843 and the Hermitage was begun in the late 1850s. Construction was halted in the Civil War and the house was finished in 1866 when Eliza was 23. Her aunt and uncle owned the property and Eliza Jane spent her childhood years on the property upon which the house was later built–probably in a long-destroyed log cabin By the time enough of the Hermitage existed for her to live in, she was away at the Amite Female Academy. She probably did stay in the house occasionally even after going to work in New Orleans on the newspaper staff. It was Lamont Rowlands who remodelled and added onto the house so extensively. He sold the house to R. H. Crosby around 1938.
This house belonged to my great grandparents (Thomas Philemon and Elvira Marson Terrell). Great grandmother sold the house to Lamont and Josephine Goodyear Rowlands around 1918-19. The house has new owners who have been carefully restoring it as well as the grounds and pool house after years of neglect.
They are over a year into the restoration.
Leonard Kimball, Eliza Jane Poitevent’s uncle, owned hundreds of acres in and near Picayune, a large portion of which was acquired in 1859-1860. If she lived with the Kimballs, it may not have been at the Hermitage. Two of his tracts were at and north of Hwy 43N and Liberty Road. There is no documentation that she named the town of Picayune or that of Nicholson.
Lamont Rowlands was partnered with my grandfather John S. Ross in the Goodyear Redwood Lumber Co. at Elk California from about 1926 until the company was closed in the depression. He had a summer place near Elk and the partner’s desk he shared with my grandfather is still in the family.
Chuck Ross, Do you know what became of Lamont’s daughter Fannie? She seems to have disappeared.