Mound Bayou Craftsman

Since we’ve been in Bolivar County all week, why not just stay there for our Craftsman post?

One of the state’s most famous Craftsman-style houses is the home of I.T. Montgomery in Mound Bayou. Montgomery, an early African American leader in the state, founded Mound Bayou as an all-black town in 1887, and Suzassippi has covered the town’s later history in a series of posts, beginning with “The Jewel of the Delta.” An impressive concrete staircase ascends to a wrap-around porch with battered wood posts on this show-piece of a house that Montgomery reportedly used to entertain guests from around the country.

Montgomery’s house replaced an earlier frame structure from the time of the town’s founding, and there is a discrepancy in the date of construction for this house. The National Historic Landmark nomination, completed in 1976, and the more recent Mound Bayou Historic District nomination, both state that the house was built c.1910, which would make it a very early Craftsman in the state, very cutting-edge. However, a researcher friend of mine pointed out the 1937 Mound Bayou Semi-Centennial Booklet, which gives a date of 1920 and some other information about the construction. Since 1937 was not that long after Montgomery’s death in 1924, and since 1920 makes more sense for the building’s style, I’m going with that date. Even still, it’s an impressive and imposing structure, and it was seen as such in its time.

montgomery-house-1937

Semi-Centennial Celebration–Mound Bayou. Report of the Historian. Fifth Annual Meeting of the Mound Bayou Foundation, January 19, 1937.

I hear that now that the Taborian Hospital is up and running, the City of Mound Bayou has turned it attention to trying to bring life back to the Montgomery House. Here’s hoping this preservation project is just as successful!


Can’t get enough of Craftsman?



Categories: African American History, Mound Bayou

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1 reply

  1. I wonder if both dates are right. The house is certainly “Victorian” in massing with its wraparound porch, roof pitch, gable ends, and general shape. That would put it closer to a 1910 dating. The porch columns and arrangement and windows of what looks like an upstairs sleeping porch above the front entrance are Craftsman. They would be circa 1920 features. Since the house has details that make sense with both dates, perhaps both dates are correct with 1910 being a construction date and 1920 the date for a remodeling that has gone unrecorded. I have never seen any interior photographs, nor does there seem to be a detailed history of the house itself (at least in the National Register listing), both of which would help date the house more conclusively.

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