Suzassippi’s Mississippi: Linden Terrace, Holly Springs

My first trip through Holly Springs was in the fall of 2003, on my way to Memphis.  I was fascinated by the Square, and Mississippi Industrial College, and vowed to return.  Although I finally made my first visit to MIC in 2009, it was only a few weeks ago that I was able to check out some other parts of Holly Springs.  I had no idea of the history (and historic buildings) this little southern town claimed.  Once again, here’s a stop on the road trip to Suzassippi’s Mississippi: a summer long visit to a few places that did not, and some that did, make the “101 Places in Mississippi to see before you die” list.

Linden Terrace–Holly Springs’ lone Federal style residence (Living Places, 1997-2012) in the midst of all the Greek Revival, Gothic, Italianate, and Queen Anne style homes–was constructed in 1844.  The nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places indicated:

…well-defined corbelled cornice and frieze with inset rectangular ashlar panels…observatory with balustrade.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History Historic Database Inventory described it:

…distinguished by a fan lighted entrance and tripartite windows.

In his essay for The South Reporter, Dr. Milton Winter recalled:

Holly Springs got its lindens from the generosity of one of our town’s 19th century mayors, Henry E. Williamson.  The Williamsons bought the interesting old home…now known as Linden Terrace…linden trees are still in the yard at Linden Terrace.

Not being a tree expert either, I am not certain which trees in the yard are linden trees, but these near the side entrance appear similar to photographs of linden trees.  There is the aromatic European linden tree,  and the common linden tree found in the US, which Dr. Winter called “dull.”  The prized European lindens were brought to Holly Springs.

The Seessel family lived in Linden Terrace in the early 1900s.  Some time after their son died in World War I, the family moved to Memphis to open Seessel Grocery (according to the Seessel family history, Lois Swaney Shipp, The South Reporter, 2012). The front entrance is currently not in use and the hall is filled with items appearing to be in storage; a tiny sign directs one to the side door.  Wonder what’s happening in historic Linden Terrace?

Categories: Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Historic Preservation, Holly Springs

14 replies

  1. What a beautifully proportioned facade. I wonder if some sort of proportioning system was used? Are there any more Federal buildings in Ms.? Natchez maybe? The Jacinto Courthouse in Rienzi?


    • The Chalmers Institute in Holly Springs is a Federal style building, but it is not a residence.


    • Actually yes, there are several in Mississippi and pethaps 4-5 more in Holly Springs, depending upon how one defines “Federal”…a spirited discussion I got into with Charles Peterson in Philadelphia several years ago.

      In Holly Springs we have Chalmers Institute, built in the Federal style in 1837 and expanded in 1857 within the same proportions and Federal vocabulary. Then there here is the Armtrong House on Market Street, a wood-frame example, though its clean Federal lines are interrupted by a turn-of-the-century porch. There is the Methodist Parsonage, supposedly built in 1862, though I seriuosly doubt that…due to its style and the fact that the church was built in 1848 or ’49 and hell…there was a War going on. There is “Herndon” (1844) on Falconer, which has an addition much like Chalmers and there are three Federal cottages, one on College Avenue traditionally called “Collonsay Cottage” which was a wonderful Federal style house (built 1840) with a unique faux-painted brick facade (it is (was) brick which was painted a red brick color, then nice, neat mortar joints applied); its historic integrity has also been severely altered by the current owner. There are two more brick cottages that could be termed “Federal”…but some protection might be warranted before visiting. The first permanent courthouse was built in 1837, its designer was the architect Joseph Coe and his master-framer was a fellow by the name of Armstrong (hence the house referenced above). Coe practiced in West Tennessee from 1824 – 1836 and moved with the coming town developments in north Mississippi, following the Chickasaw Cession. Noted regional historian Hubert McAlexander had followed Coe’s career from 1837 and I had followed it prior to that in Tennessee – we agreed that much more research needs to be done about this early architect in TN/MS, who largely worked in the Federal style and I think a case could be made towards attributing much of the Federal style construction in this area to him…but we don’t know that yet.


    • There are hundreds of Federal style homes in Mississippi. Port Gibson, Natchez and Woodville abound in Federal homes.


  2. Well, in Natchez there would be Auburn, Arlington, Rosalie, the Briars, the Mercer House …


  3. Jacinto Courthouse is indeed a very very late Federal-style courthouse (1854), well after Greek Revival had gained dominance in the state. It’s always interesting to see how long these styles held on in areas that weren’t as closely connected to the outside world as the larger towns, and that may not have had many builders competing with each other to do something new.


  4. Added to Natchez list after this morning walk: Texada, Holly Hedges …


  5. In looking at Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, inc.’s Facebook:

    I see a posting (from my wife Jenifer, I think) that reminded me of other Federal cottages in Holly Sorings that had been “Greeked up” in a later life…and yes, I forgot all about those and can now think of two within a block from our house – one frame and the other brick (also used to be stucco). Both got Greek Revival porticos with really nice stumpy Doric columns that came from other long-gone houses.


  6. Is there a published history of Chalmers when it was an active University?


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