HABS in Mississippi: Temple Heights, Columbus

Since Columbus has been the subject of several posts lately, I thought maybe we needed to bring up a few of the town’s most historic properties that the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) documented back in the 1930s. Maybe these will start jogging the memory of Columbus officials, who seem to have forgotten that their town’s historic buildings are the backbone of their heritage tourism economy.

Dixie Butler is pictured outside Temple Heights, the circa 1837 Columbus home combining Greek Revival and Federal design. This spring’s Columbus Pilgrimage April 6-18, 2015 will be her 46th consecutive year on the tour and her last as a homeowner. Photo by: Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff

Today’s HABS property is Temple Heights, also known as the Brownrigg-Harris-Kennebrew House, located at 515 N. 9th Street. It was listed on the National Register in 1978 and was designated as a Mississippi Landmark in 1987. It was also the home, for four decades, of staunch preservationists Carl and Dixie Butler, who brought the house back from the brink as young homeowners after they bought it in 1967, according to a Dispatch article from 2015, “A Last Pilgrimage,” when Dixie Butler was selling the house.

The MDAH Historic Resources Database has this brief summary about the property:

A significant and (for Mississippi) unique interpretation of the Greek Revival temple-form house. Its style is derived from the c.1854 addition of a giant-order Doric portico to the rear and to the two principal elevations of an earlier vernacular house built by Richard T. Brownrigg in 1837. The original two-story frame house, with its inset gallery and broken slope gable roof on the rear, its exterior end brick chimneys, and its side-hall plan with three entrances, is a form more commonly associated with Brownrigg’s native eastern North Carolina than Mississippi. The structure thus appears to be a conscious attempt to reproduce a familiar form. Brownrigg, a successful planter and one of the earliest settlers in the vicinity of Columbus, moved his family from Chowan County, North Carolina, in 1835. [HABS: MS-86 (1936)]

As you can see in the sparse data sheets below, the HABS historians knew almost nothing about the house when they first photographed it in 1936.

FRONT ELEVATION – Kinnebrew House, Columbus, Lowndes County. James Butters, HABS Photographer. June 11, 1936.

GENERAL VIEW OF REAR AND SIDE ELEVATION – Kinnebrew House, Columbus, Lowndes County. James Butters, HABS Photographer. June 11, 1936.


MDAH Historic Resources Database record: https://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/prop.aspx?id=19684&view=facts&y=728

HABS Library of Congress record: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ms0080/

Read more about Columbus and its recent propensity to want to demolish its historic buildings instead of saving them like the Butlers did . . .



Categories: Antebellum, Architectural Research, Columbus, Historic Preservation, Preservation People/Events

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1 reply

  1. HABS personnel must not have asked anyone in Columbus about the house’s history. The inaugural Pilgrimage booklet has more information about the house than HABS does.

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