Two antebellum houses in Starkville, the Gillespie-Jackson House and The Cedars, have recently gone on the market, according to the Commerical Dispatch, and unfortunately, the Gillespie-Jackson property is being offered as a commercial or mixed-use development, which seems to imply the owners expect the house to be demolished in the process.
Located at the now-busy intersection of Highway 12 and Louisville Street (old Highway 25), the Gillespie-Jackson House has been listed on the National Register since 1986. According to the National Register nomination, the Greek Revival style house was built in 1850.
The house is a wood-frame, clapboarded “four-over-four” or “Georgian double-pile” with a side-gabled roof and interior chimneys. A monumental portico projects from the center of the five-bay west (front) facade. In the upper part of the portico is a cantelevered (and otherwise unsupported) balcony which reaches to within eight inches of the piers but does not touch them.
It was built for Dr. William Gage Gillespie, “a physician who had come to Oktibbeha county early in the 1830s. By the 1850s Gillespie owned several thousand acres of land and perhaps as many as 200 slaves, and was considered to be the wealthiest man in the county (Thomas Battle Carroll, Historical Sketches of Oktibbeha County [Gulfport, Miss.: The Dixie Press, 1931] p. 93).
The Dispatch article by Devin Edgar notes:
California-based Marcus and Millichap Real Estate listed the property at $2.1 million and is marketing it as hotel or commercial use, agent Wes Tiner told The Dispatch. However, he said the agency would entertain offers for residential use.
Tiner added the property is priced to move, and he expects to sell it sooner than later.
“I have been doing this for 30 years now, and I have never been told that a property is severely underpriced until now,” Tiner said. “So, I expect this one to move pretty fast. I think it will probably go as a mixed-use development, with both retail and residential space. Or because it is about a mile away from the school (Mississippi State University), a condo development.”
Anybody out there have ties to Starkville and a load of money you would like to use to save this important local landmark for posterity?
An even older house, The Cedars, also known as the Montgomery House, is being offered as a single-family home, and the current owners, the Eshees, love the place and want the next owners to love it as much as they do. Built around 1837, the house was listed on the National Register in 1985. According to the MDAH Historic Resources Database record, The Cedars is
a two-story vernacular Greek Revival house, with a brick lower story and a wood-frame upper story, that has three tetrastyle porticoes. . . . The Cedars is significant as the home of the Montgomery family and as one of the few remaining antebellum structures in Oktibbeha County. Starkville had only a few wealthy planters and therefore equally few large planter homes. The Cedars is decidedly the grandest of these few and is particularly notable for having its second floor as the main floor. This so-called raised cottage type evolved on the Gulf Coast from French and Spanish 18th-century prototypes as a means to have living spaces elevated for ventilation and to avoid flooding. It was enlarged and given Neo-Classical dress in order to make it an appropriate 19th-century dwelling for Southern planters. The Cedars is the only remaining raised cottage type plantation house in Oktibbeha County.
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