One of the common complaints about historic preservationists from non-historic preservationists, particularly of the internet troll variety, is that if preservationists want to save something they should buy it or shut up about it. This is an ignorant, internet troll-ish opinion for many reasons. The main reason, other than money, is that many properties historic preservationists would like to preserve never come up for sale. Likely every reader on this site has at least one story of a great old house down the street or somewhere in their hometown that just kept getting in worse shape, more rundown year after year. Yet, the owners either could not be located and contacted or were afflicted with Rhett Butler syndrome, frankly not giving a damn and abandoning it. After a while, that house was demolished.
So, I have looked at real estate listings from across the Magnolia State to present a sampling of historic houses, particularly fixer-uppers, that are available for any enterprising historic preservationist to restore. Although not all the houses fall into this category, in general these are the types of houses, in both age and condition, that the City of Meridian would be demolishing right now if they were in that locale. Preservation in Mississippi readers who are fans of the site Old House Dreams will notice a slight overlap. While this feature and that site both concern historic houses for sale, this feature is aimed towards lower-priced, unrestored houses (and other structures) that could be demolished or insensitively altered unless purchased by a preservation-minded buyer. Depending on interest and whether this post actually does anything to encourage the restoration of these houses, it could become a regular feature.
*Note: Neither W. White nor Preservation in Mississippi have any financial nor other interest in these properties other than seeing them preserved and restored. Real estate details for anyone wishing to purchase these houses are on the listing page, linked to in each property description. Any more information about each house can be found on the listing page or by asking the real estate agency and agent.*
Teasdale House or “Taynor” at 806 3rd Ave. N., Columbus – $29,900
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the Columbus Central Commercial Historic District. Malvaney reported in MissPres News Roundup 11-21-2016 that the city would like to demolish this house due to a lack of maintenance, despite its historic nature and Columbus’s supposed reputation as a city that preserves its historic antebellum houses. Frankly, the listing photographs do not show anything irreparable and certainly nothing that would warrant demolition, though the rear ell will need extensive work.
916 7th St. S., Columbus – $30,000
Located about two blocks outside of the South Columbus Historic District, it sits on the “wrong side” of the tracks, south of the tracks and Columbus’s various historic districts. Although it is located in a small cluster of similarly aged and imperiled Victorians, it will likely never be eligible for the National Register since the area does not meet National Register standards for district cohesion. That is a great shame, but it does not mean that this house and its neighbors should not be preserved.
718 N. 8th Ave., Laurel – $20,000
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a marginal resource in the Laurel Central Historic District due to modified porch columns, metal awnings, and some novelty siding. With the exception of the porch columns, all those alterations have been removed (though some replacement windows have cropped up in their place). The National Register nomination form gives the construction date as circa 1900 with the real estate listing stating “approximately 1910.” Of note is a photograph in the listing of Laurel’s trolley system in operation, purportedly showing the trolley traveling past this house (which does not seem right based upon Frank Brooks’s “Travelling by Trolley in Mississippi: Stories about Streetcars” though the photograph does appear to show this house and its still extant neighbor).
611 W Market St., Greenwood – $24,900
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the River Road and Western Downtown Residential Historic District, part of the Greenwood Multiple Resource Area. The house appears very intact architecturally with few major changes. It has not been trashed by vandals but is in the condition one would expect for a fixer-upper priced just under $25,000.
806 Dewey St., Greenwood – $8,500
Also in Greenwood, this house is a plainer lower-middle class version of 611 W. Market and was constructed circa 1920. It is in poor but structurally sound condition with some interior alterations and will require a complete restoration. It is not on the National Register, but it and its neighboring houses would qualify as a National Register historic district.
407 N. Church St., Hollandale – $16,900
Preservation in Mississippi rarely receives much news from Hollandale, a Delta town that like this house could best be described as having good bones but has seen better days. The listing gives a construction date of 1922 for this Twenties Eclectic-Tudor-Craftsman-style house, which is substantially larger than it looks from the front based upon Google Earth and Street View.
15077 S. Jackson St., Durant – $12,900
In many ways, this house is a terrible mess. The front window has been replaced with something cheap and vinyl, the interior is either slathered in carpet or garish colors, and there are multiple rear additions of the shoddiest slab-on-grad variety. Yet, the house has not been gutted to the studs, retaining its mantles, some hardwood flooring, and most of its original windows, with most rooms having the original wood paneling, while the exterior has a great gingerbreaded porch.
304 S. Long St., Aberdeen – $29,900
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the Silk Stocking Row Historic District and constructed circa 1920.
1677 Main St., Fayette – $69,000
Although at $69,000 I would not consider this house priced to move (particularly in the nation’s fourth-poorest county), it could interest someone charmed by its gingerbreaded entrance and proximity to Alcorn State University. It will need new windows as the current ones are all replacements. The house is not on the National Register.
607 N. Pearl St., Carthage – $33,000
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the Carthage Historic District. The MDAH HRI states that the house was constructed circa 1900, but its spraddle-roof form and the woodwork throughout indicate that the 1859 date cited in the real estate listing is likely correct. This listing is for the house only, which must be relocated. Yet one only needs to look at that interestingly paneled hall door to see the architectural value in this house and that it must be preserved, preferably in situ but relocated if necessary.
217 Walnut St., Sumner – $40,000
According to the real estate listing, the house was constructed in 1929, which is much more believable than the listing’s claim that it was one of the first five houses constructed in Sumner. I doubt it is the fifth oldest house on Walnut Street, but I would wager that few of them have mahogany trim and crown molding. Despite its setting on Cassidy Bayou among other equally historic houses, it is not listed on the National Register. Unlike most of the houses profiled in this post, it appears to be move-in ready. If only I had $40,000 laying around…
227 N. Martin Luther King St., Natchez – $75,000
The only commercial building included in this post. Although within the boundaries of Natchez-On-Top-of-the-Hill Historic District, it is not listed on the MDAH HRI. The building would certainly qualify for the National Register and was perhaps just mis-numbered. The 200 block of N. MLK has seen two historic building collapses since Preservation in Mississippi began. This building could use restoration work as it is highly likely that it and the rest of the historic mixed-use buildings in the immediate area will continue collapsing one-by-one if the current, long-term disinvestment continues. Despite its poor condition, the building does have historic windows and shutters on the exterior and original (though deteriorated) mantles and wainscoting on the interior.
161 S. Second St., Gloster – $45,000
The only other move-in ready house in this post, one just has to spotlight any historic house with an original 30 over 2 front window flanked by 20 over 1 windows. This is also only the second post in the history of this site concerning a house located in Gloster. The first was Malvaney’s “Gloster Craftsman/Prairie” from May of last year.
2407 Poplar Springs Dr., Meridian – $79,500
I beat up on Meridian a lot because it has historic buildings second to none in the state and nothing better to do than demolish them. Without prompt preservation efforts, this house is one in danger of ending up in a landfill, joining too many other Meridian buildings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the Poplar Springs Road Historic District, part of the Historic Resources of Meridian Multiple Resource Area. According to the National Register nomination form, it is not only a contributing resource but was highlighted as a noteworthy building due to its status as an early example of Mission Revival in Mississippi. It was constructed circa 1903 for a Captain Wright next door to one of Mississippi’s first Tudor Revival houses, the circa 1903 M. R. Grant House.
507 River Road, Greenwood – $75,000
Of all the important and interesting historic houses, I saved the best for last. It is also the only one that some of the various old house sites on the internet have noticed. Forget the $40,000 I asked for to buy that house in Sumner, someone give me the money to buy and restore this house. Please.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the River Road and Western Downtown Residential Historic District, part of the Greenwood Multiple Resource Area. The National Register nomination form states that this house is one of “Greenwood’s most outstanding residential buildings…and testif[ies] to the prosperity of the city in the early twentieth century.”
From the real estate listing:
Built in the early 1900s by Greenwood businessman and mayor, Stage Marye, this grand home was once one of the finest in the Delta, and could be once again. Its design was inspired by the many showboats that once sailed the waters of the Yazoo and mighty Mississippi. The interior features beautiful woodwork, ornate mantels, solid oak doors with egg and dart trim, and hardwood floors. A private, three room suite upstairs has casement windows that open up for a sweeping view of the Yazoo River.
The house would be a big undertaking, not just because of damage due to neglect but also due to shoddy renovation work. The drywall, especially in the curved sections looks sloppy, yet not as sloppy as the accidental spray painting done to the fireplace tiles when the mantles, trim, and every other surface in the entrance was painted flat white. Also, it appears that the previous owners did not repair the roof. Still, I doubt there is a historic preservationist around who would not swoon over this house.
Hopefully this post serves as more than just an idle wish list and instead helps connect these historic houses with new owners who will give them the restorations they deserve.