Rosemont Plantation

Rosemont, Woodville  ca. 1810

Rosemont, Woodville ca. 1810 photo MDAH

According to the National Register nomination, prepared in 1974, Rosemont Plantation was built ca. 1810 by Samuel and Jane Davis when they moved from Fairview, Kentucky to Wilkinson County, Mississippi with a two year old Jefferson Davis. The house is a vernacular Mississippi planter’s cottage with a rather unusual central gable and its finely detailed Palladian window. There is no record of an architect, but the design of Rosemont bears striking resemblance to Oakdale Plantation, a house near Fort Adams in southwest Wilkinson County.   The house was originally called Poplar Grove, but was renamed Rosemont in honor of Jane Cook Davis’ rose gardens.  While Jefferson Davis left Woodville to attend Transylvania College in Lexington, Kentucky, the house remained within the Davis family and their descendants, the Stamps and Farish families until 1895.   In 1895, the property was sold to Henry Johnson, a prominent local planter whose own magnificent Grove Plantation had recently burned to the ground, leaving almost no traces behind.  The Johnson family owned Rosemont until 1971.   In that year, the property was somewhat dilapidated and was purchased by Percival Beacroft of Houston and Freeport, Texas.  Beacroft and Ernesto Caldeira restored Rosemont to the pristine condition we see today.

MAin Hall at Rosemont- photo Rosemont website

Main Hall- photo- Rosemont website

Rosemont’s interior millwork is graceful Federal and Greek Revival period work.  The doors have been treated with a special finish to make the wood appear more expensive than the pine or cypress used for their construction.  High ceilings, tall windows and an almost  refreshing reticence in color define the interior.  Many of the antiques are Davis family pieces which remained in the house throughout or were donated by members of the Davis family.   The grounds and outbuildings have also been restored and a parklike atmosphere pervades throughout.  The Davis family cemetery is on the grounds and offers a peaceful retreat among the towering oaks and poplars above.

Rosemont Dining Room

Dining Room- photo- Rosemont website



Categories: Historic Preservation, National Register, Woodville

7 replies

  1. Tom, I believe that since that 1974 National Register nomination, questions have emerged about the date of Rosemont, specifically whether it dates to the early 1830s and thus would have been built for Davis’ sister instead of for his parents. This is what is indicated in the WPA records, and stylistically, I think there’s question about the Greek Revival character of many architectural details that seem to be original rather than later additions. I’ll try to get that WPA source, but may not because I’m in SESAH all day.

    These are questions I’ve heard from others, not necessarily from my own mouth since I’ve only visited Rosemont many years ago when I didn’t really know enough.

    Regardless, it’s a great house and a real treasure for the state.

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  2. I had noticed a couple of sources indicating ca. 1830, but wasn’t sure why there would be the discrepancy. I really must find out more about Oakdale because this might answer the question- or at least provide more clues. I don’t recall that the interior millwork at Oakdale was as fine as that found at Rosemont, but there’s almost no question of the buildings being by the same builder/architect. It’s been many years since I visited Oakdale and I’m not sure about its present ownership or condition.

    I know you’re the Starmaster here, but can I award a star to the alert reader who can find out anything about Oakdale? There’s zilch on the Web.

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  3. I now pronounce you the Starmaster of the Month–star away!

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  4. I just had a note from Percival Beacroft who maintains that the house was built some time after 1810. Oakdale was built around 1830, but its interior details are more Greek Revival than Federal. It is likely that the houses may have been built by the same contractor. There is no evidence of an earlier house on the site, so the 1830 date appears to be something of a myth perpetuated by its presence in several prominent sources.

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  5. Well, I’m not an expert on this particular issue and don’t necessarily want to become one. I do know that people who know more than I hold to the 1830s date but obviously there are two positions and maybe there’s just not enough evidence to be definitive at this point. Obviously I’d love for the 1812 date to be the right one.

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  6. Elle est belle, elle est magnifique. . .

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  7. The 1830 date was an obvious mistake by the WPA recorder. Jefferson Davis’ sister and her husband had homes of their own prior to 1830 and owned a plantation on the Mississippi known as Stamps Landing.The Federal architecture is characteristic of Rosemont. Early records describe it as the home of Mrs. Jane Davis, after her husband, Samuel Davis died in the 1824. There are many letters and diarys that authenicate the earlier the early date.

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