Today we’ll start a weekly post reprinting one of the first “architectural history” series about Mississippi buildings. Written by Mrs. N.D. Deupree, “Historic Homes of Mississippi” took the form of two long articles in the 1902 and 1903 Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society. Deupree covers 22 houses in all, most with photographs. As testament to her wide range and good eye, many of her chosen homes survive today and are considered our most worthy landmarks. Others have been lost, with Deupree’s text the only description we have.
Like many early architectural historians and preservationists, Deupree focuses on the families that occupied the houses, but she also goes into some depth to describe interior floorplans and decorations, so much so that I wish she had continued her project to book-length. The two articles remain immensely valuable, regardless of the sometimes hagiographic tone, and I think they deserve to be brought back to life in the digital realm to reach a broader audience today.
This week, I’ll post this introductory text as well as the first entry. In future weeks, Deupree’s articles will appear on Thursday.
SOME HISTORIC HOMES OF MISSISSIPPI
by Mrs. N.D. Deupree
The homes of which we write were built in the early days of Mississippi, by men prominent in politics, the professions, and literature, as well as by wealthy planters. Their beautiful names, which distinguish them from the flats which now abound, are worthy of a place in the State’s history. Also, the system of Southern life, when leisure gave time for culture and high-bred hospitality characteristic of the times rapidly receding into the past, should be preserved for the guidance and enlightenment of posterity. It is no easy task to gather the facts concerning these beautiful homes even now. Although the State is less than a century old, many of its early homes have fallen into decay. The builders dead and the heirs far away in stranger lands, it is impossible in many cases to obtain but the meagre records.
Of the private life of these delightful people, it is possible to give only the merest outline: it was bounded by the sacred precincts of home, controlled by all that makes life beautiful,–congenial friendships, charming reunions, and high mental attainments, all combined to make an ideal life.
In the preparation of this first chapter of Historic Homes, we have received valuable aid from Mrs. S.S. Calhoon and Mrs. R.J. Harding, of Jackson; Mrs. R.Q. Duncan, of Natchez; Mrs. Howard Cabell, of Clinton; Col. James Gordon, of Okolona; Mrs. W.L. Wells, of Vicksburg; Mrs. Amelia Alcorn, of Eagle’s Nest; and Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Ray, and Mrs. LeFlore, of Malmaison.
Mrs. N.D. Deupree, born Durham, is descended from a family of that name who emigrated from Saxony to the northeast coast of England in the 6th century, A.D. The city of Durham was named in honor of a chief belonging to this family. Baron Durham was among the barons who compelled King John to sign the Magna Charta in 1215. Two brothers, John and James Durham, came to America about 1790. The former settled in Maryland and from him descended the Durhams of that State and of Virginia and Kentucky. The author of this paper is a descendant of the Maryland branch. She was educated in the high schools of Cincinnati and the Ellinwood Female Seminary at Mt. Hope, Kentucky. At the close of the War between the States she was married to Dr. J.G. Deupree, who is now Professor of Pedagogy in the University of Mississippi.–EDITOR.
Publications of the Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI (1902), pp. 245
This post is part of a series taken from Mrs. N.D. Deupree’s “Some Historic Homes of Mississippi,” published in 1903. Want to read others in the series?
Categories: Architectural Research