HABS in Mississippi: Col. Moore House, Winona

When I first started this post, I didn’t know where in Winona the Col. Moore House was, or even who Col. Moore was, and unfortunately, the sparse record in the MDAH Historic Resources Database informed me that it was no longer standing. So I went on a little sleuthing expedition in the Sanborn maps for Winona, and I found the footprint of a house at the corner of S. Central Avenue and Knox Street that looked similar to the Moore house (2 stories with a rear el or wing and full-height porch, set back from the street on a large lot). When I went to Google maps expecting to see a vacant lot or maybe several later house or even an apartment building or Dollar General store, what did I find instead? A house that has some similarities to the Moore House, but some discrepancies as well. Is this the Moore House, remodeled with Roman Ionic columns and a new entrance among other changes? Or is this a completely different house? The more I look at the two, the less I think the house at S. Central is the Moore House, but I invite you to look at both images and see what you think. The S. Central house is part of the Winona Historic District and is called “The Oaks,” although that record estimates the house was built in the 1870s, while the HABS record places the Moore House, or at least its log core in the 1820s.

East Elevation, June 27, 1936. James Butters, HABS photographer.

East Elevation, June 27, 1936. James Butters, HABS photographer.

Northeast View, June 27, 1936. James Butters, HABS photographer.

Northeast View, June 27, 1936. James Butters, HABS photographer.

HABS website: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ms0076/


Categories: Historic American Building Survey (HABS), Winona


9 replies

  1. That is rather interesting about the similarities on the same spot. The front door, while a similar design, is not as wide, but it certainly makes you think the owners of the current house knew the history of that lot, doesn’t it?


  2. ELM, do I understand this correctly?

    1. The site of the Col. Moore house is unknown, and
    2. The connection between the Moore house and the house at 201 S Central Avenue was only inferred from the Sanborn maps.

    In that case the differences visible in the HABS photos and the current photo would almost definitely militate against their being the same building.

    A few thoughts:

    The HABS documentation of an 1825 construction date was probably from an oral tradition and is almost certainly too early. This conclusion is partly based on the fact that this would place the construction five years before the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek that ceded that area to the US government and also partly because of a certain leeriness that I have with such dates in general.

    The house at 201 South Central Avenue faces the railroad and its lot is adjacent to a street that runs parallel to the railroad which suggests that it was built after the railroad was surveyed in the 1850s.

    The HABS location for the site of the Moore house is listed merely as Winona without a street address which suggests that the Moore house may well have been located near Winona but outside the town per se.

    Hank Holmes is from Winona. He might know where the Moore house was located.


  3. While James F. Brieger’s book “Hometown Mississippi” is not known for its accuracy, this does not mean that it is totally inaccurate. Here is a passage pertaining to Winona that suggests that the Moore house was “near” the Winona depot which suggests that the house was either in town or not to far from it:

    “Born as a result of the railroad being built here [Winona] instead of at Middleton to the west in 1860, Winona was originally a part of Carroll County and was incorporated as a town on May 2, 1861. . . . The first settler of the town was Colonel O.J. Moore, who arrived from Virginia in 1848. What is now the business part of town was then a cultivated field on Colonel Moore’s property. The railroad passed through his property and the railway station was placed near his plantation home. An influx of settlers started after the location of the railroad and Winona became a busy town.”


  4. Apparently the Colonel Moore house stood on the north side of Summit Street in Winona at an address that I believe to be 328 Summit until it was burned in 1970. Here’s my evidence

    “The original home of Colonel and Mrs. Moore was constructed of logs with
    two stories. Some time later the logs were covered with wooden siding and
    columns were added across the front of the house. This home remained in the
    family until 1925 when it was purchased by Dr. E. C. O’Cain. It was destroyed
    by fire in October 1970. A one-story replica of the home was built on the same
    spot as the original house.”

    Click to access spring-2015.pdf

    Although I’m not sure what a “one-story replica” of a two-story home would look like, I feel certain that it wouldn’t look like the house at 201 South Central Avenue.

    Then there’s this caption to a photograph of a Winona house that is at the NE corner of Summit St and Webster Drive:
    “This is the home of Col. Moore’s daughter
    Laura. It is now Lee Funeral Home. It is located
    on Summit Street west of where the Col.
    Moore house once stood.”

    Click to access spring-2015.pdf

    Because Summit Street has an east-west orientation then it would seem that the Moore house stood to the east of this home, either on or near Summit Street.

    In fact I see using Google maps that on the adjacent lot to the east of Lee Funeral Home there is a house set back a considerable distance from Summit St (i.e. this house is on the N side of Summit and is near the center of the block, I believe that the street address is 328 Summit) which appears to be the 1970 “replica” referred to. It has a full frontal gallery, six columns/posts, central doorway, with two windows on either side of the door. The site appears to be elevated and commanding.

    So I pulled up a random year of Sanborn maps for Winona–1905 sheet 5. There on the NE corner of Summit and Webster is the home currently used for the Lee Funeral Home. Adjacent on the east is a lot that extended from Summit on the south northwards to the next street, Jones, and in the center of the lot is a two-story home with a full frontal gallery, evidently the Colonel O.J. Moore house by its appearance.

    I tried to cut-and-paste a relevant excerpt from the Sanborn, but I am either not allowed to do so or am simply too computer ignorant to do so. So I’ll send a copy in an email message to the elusive ELM for consideration.


  5. Here is that Sanborn, Jack.


  6. I had looked at Summit St (and I was looking in town because you can see a hint of a building off to the far left in the side view picture), but completely missed that building, so thanks to your better detective work, we now have some answers about where the Col. Moor House was and when it disappeared. That was certainly a loss. Thanks for digging this all out and sharing your research!


  7. This information was sent to me by a friend who was wondering if the house in question is my home. It is not, however, I clear up the question about the Col. Moore house. The house in the center of the Sanborn Map that is set back from Summit Street is Col. Moore’s home. This was the original house were Winona is now. The current town of Winona was Col. Moore’s plantation. The town of Middleton was about 1 – 2 miles west of current downtown Winona – right where I-55 and US Highway 82 intersect. The north south railroad was coming through and the people in Middleton wanted too much money for the right of way. Col. Moore went to the railroad and offered them land through his farm for a lower price and they took it. Winona was born and Middleton faded away.

    The Moore house did burn in 1970. It was a grand house with a large swooping staircase going upstairs. I grew up going to that house and never knew there were log walls behind the wood siding. Once it caught fire there was no way they could put that hot fire out. A new home was built by the Hightower family who lived there at that time. The new house is 2 stories and does resemble the original house.

    On the Sanborn Map there are two houses on each side closer to Summit Street. These two houses were deeded to Col. Moore’s two daughters in 1874. That is probably the year they were built. Laura Moore Turner lived in the one to the left which is now Lee Funeral Home. Ella Moore Lay lived in the one on the right. I have lived in that house for 24 years and have done a good bit of research.


  8. If you were covering the entire town on Sanborns, it would have certainly been easy to miss.


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