When I first saw these pictures on the Historic American Building Survey site, I thought, “Surely that’s not still standing because I would have remembered it.” I mean, seriously, it’s a castle. In Mississippi.
I went straight to the MDAH Historic Resources Database, of course, and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but an entry for The Castle, located at 919 W. Commerce! Not only that, the house is listed on the National Register as part of the West Commerce Historic District. Well, I’m not going to lie, I felt stupid for never having even known about this amazing house/castle, so I went to the National Register nomination and found the description of the house:
15. 919. The Castle. One-and-one-half story, four by two bay, frame house with a gable roof. The house’s northeast corner is marked by a one-and-one-half story polygonal tower which has a multi-sided roof and flares out slightly just above its foundation. A bungalow-style porch extends across the rest of the front facade. Its hip roof is supported by pairs and triads of box columns resting on brick pedestals. This porch is an alteration dating from 1937. Located within the porch area is a single-leaf door topped by an elliptical fanlight with a Gothic Revival drip mold and flanked by sidelights with panelling beneath them and a polygonal bay with narrow windows crowned by Gothic Revival drip molds. To the rear of the west (side) elevation a sun porch with a bank of very narrow windows has been added. On the rear elevation, a gable-roofed, one story wing connects the house to a board-and-batten building with a side-gabled roof and a full-width porch. Gothic Revival. Ca.1885/1937.
Some alarm bells in this description:
- the description of a roof on top of the tower
- Only one tower described
- a bungalow-style porch–you know I love bungalows, but there’s no porch evident on the HABS photos of 1936
- Alterations in 1937
So I googled “Castle Aberdeen, MS” and I got a link to a post about our Mississippi castle on the blog Castles of the United States, which has already done this research, and you can go over there and read what they found. A pdf compilation of several different sources about the house gives this bit of oral history as an explanation for the house’s unique design:
It is of a peculiar type of architect which is so striking in a town made up of many homes of colonial type, intermingled with the modern ones. It was a Frenchman by the name of B.W. De Courcey who built the house in 1884. Evidently homesick for the beauties of his old country he designed this utterly unique type home on the lines of a feudal domain. Though built of frame and painted a dull gray in color its tower like structure with much carving once attracted a great deal of attention.
In 1889 E.P. Thompson bought the house from the De Courceys and there he lived and reared his family until 1912. It has changed hands many times since then and the house itself barely resembles the original.
I’ll leave it up to you to agree or disagree with the writer above after you see the “today picture,” but for myself, I don’t feel so bad that I couldn’t remember seeing this house. Here’s the Google streetview for the address today.
More about Aberdeen’s Castle:
See more HABS in Mississippi: