Did N. W. Overstreet ever live in the N. W. Oversteet house?

Several years ago, Malvaney posted some pictures of the beautiful house at 831 Gillespie Street in Jackson. According to the Belhaven Historic District National Register nomination the house was built c.1916 for Overstreet as his personal residence. The National Register nomination also mentions several other houses that Overstreet designed in the neighborhood that were built the late teens and the nineteen-twenties.

831 Gillespie Street Jackson, Mississippi

Recently, I was looking through some 1920 census records and was surprised to see the name of N. W. Overstreet and family listed as domiciled at 1264 North President Street, just a short distance from Gillespie Street. My initial thought was that perhaps the 831 Gillespie house was built a bit later than initially anticipated, but the house appears on the November 1918 Sanborn map, so I became even more puzzled. Checking the 1930 and 1940 census records show that Overstreet was still living 1264 North President Street. The 1943-1947 Jackson City Directories give Overstreet’s home address as 1529 Peachtree. By 1954-1959 the family address is given as 940 Bellevue Place. A Northside Sun article dated September 27, 1973, gives his home address as 747 Belhaven Street.

1529 Peachtree St. Jackson MS. Built 1927 James M. Spain Archt. N.W. Overstreet’s home from c.1943-c.1947

As for 831 Gillespie itself, a 1963 Clarion-Ledger article lists the house as the Owens family residence. In 1966 the house was listed for sale in the Clarion-Ledger. Conceivably, Overstreet bought his house back, yet moved to 747 Belhaven Street before 1973, the year of his passing? Not implausible but somewhat doubtful.

831 Gillespie Street Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson Daily News. Wednesday, November 18, 1914

So perhaps Overstreet’s personal association with the residence comes prior to 1920. Overstreet’s June 5, 1917 draft registration does state that 831 Gillespie is his home, as did the 1916 Jackson City Directory. Looking into the Clarion-Ledger, I found this gem of an advertisement, that places the date of construction to earlier than originally believed. In November of 1914, Overstreet offered the house for sale or rent.

For all anyone knows Overstreet was not able to find a buyer or renter for the house and lived there until he could? Unfortunately, the statement that Overstreet lived in this house for nearly 60 years just doesn’t seem to be the case. What is sad to see also is that so many of his documented residences have gone the way of the wrecking ball. The houses at 1264 North President, 940 Bellevue Place, and 747 Belhaven Street are just the ones we know about.



Categories: Architectural Research, Jackson, Lost Mississippi, National Register

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12 replies

  1. interesting ideas brought forward through your sleuthing. this shows that ‘facts’ are often ‘not facts’, and that statements made for publication should always be checked and re-checked. on the other hand, additional data can always ’emerge’ later.

    and, yes, it is unfortunate that so few of mr overstreet’s houses are left.

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  2. The brick is interesting. Too bad it’s covered with siding and paint now. The old darker color emphasizes some detail that is washed out with the light paint.

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    • It does look like siding, but I think the horizontal brick joints are raked deeper than the verticle ones, giving that banded appearance. The lighter paint color really brings the shadows out emphasizing this.

      Frank Lloyd Wright used a similar detail to the 1908 Robie House and tuck-pointed the vertical joints with a red-tinted mortar to help the vertical joint disappear even more. It really lends to the horizontal appearance that was desired in the prairie style. Wright certainly did not invent the technique but he did use it to great effect.

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    • The brick is painted, which is unfortunate, as you note. That basketweave pattern in particular would be interesting to recover.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Now you’ve got me curious about the original colors. I assume the green tile roof is on the building in the 1914 photo(although you can’t see the prominent ridge cap on the front door hood.) Maybe a dark green or red for wood trim and windows. A light color for the stucco. But the brick I cannot figure out. perhaps a light red, or maybe a beige?

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        • You are right, of course, that the brick is painted. I obviously didn’t have the picture blown up enough. As for the color, notice how dark the bricks of the steps photograph in comparison. The house bricks (except for the contrasting ones) photograph similarly to the grass. If this picture was taken shortly before publication, the grass may have been beige as well, assuming there had already been a good frost.

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  3. Well, I guess I’ve learned I can’t rely on received wisdom even about architects’ houses. I didn’t check the directories to be sure he lived in this house his whole life, and yes, it appears that perhaps this was more of a spec house for him in the Gillespie Street development and that maybe when it didn’t sell right off, he lived there for a few years. So, he was more like the Scott brothers, moving around a lot, which is surprising to me.

    Also, I’ve had the song “Trailers for Sale or Rent” in my head all day because of that ad. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ha-ha. That is a good one, that you’ve now firmly implanted in my mind.

      I don’t know if Overstreet was as quite as transient as Tom B. Scott was. Scott moved three times in twelve years between 1928 and 1941. Overstreet would move four times (approximately) in fifty-five years between 1918 and 1973. But who is to say how often Overstreet moved between returning to Mississippi in 1912 and 1916 when he’s living on Gillespie.

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  4. The answer to this is YES, he did. follow this file:///C:\Users\THERESA\Documents\OUR%20FAMILY%20BOOK\THE%20HOUSE%20ON%20GILLESPIE%20STREET.docx

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  5. I can answer all of these questions. I am Ther file:///C:\Users\THERESA\Documents\OUR%20FAMILY%20BOOK\THE%20HOUSE%20ON%20GILLESPIE%20STREET.docxesa Overstreet Younce, N.W. Sr.’s granddaughter. I have all the information you need about this house and how it fits into the history of Mr. Overstreet.
    In January of 1912, Webb Overstreet, having graduated from University of Illinois School of Architecture and Engineering in 1910 and then working for a construction and architectural business in the Chicago area for a year or so, decided that he wanted to come back to his native Mississippi and establish himself as one of the earliest of architects in our state. He said he wanted the state to understand what architecture could give to this state that he loved. He had several other opportunities in the midwest (I have letters from several firms offering him these opportunities), but he decided to come back to his own roots.
    While at the University he had met a lovely young woman, Mabel Kinnear, from Urbana, IL, and when he made this decision to move back to Mississippi, he told her that after he had established himself so that he could support her, they would get married, and the sooner the better. I have some 30 letters that my grandmother (the Mabel mentioned above) kept. They are now 106 years old.
    He established himself with Spencer in a firm called Overstreet and Spencer, Architects and Engineers, Seutter Building, Jackson, MS. The letters are filled with expressions of missing each other and looking forward to the future together, but also provide wonderful information about the building of a new Jackson telling about constantly traveling (by train) over the state bidding on buildings. Any kind of building, from homes, to businesses of all kinds, to government buildings, churches, factories, jails, schools. They needed the business, and they convinced the community they needed Architects and Engineers. All of this told about in these letters. One of the earliest buildings was an apartment complex on Pearl street. Mr. Overstreet was at the time living in Mrs. Dameron’s Boarding house along with a number of other young men all trying to establish themselves in many different professions. One letter tells about a resident of the Boarding house that was also planning marriage and had put down money to rent the apartment adjoining the one Overstreet was planning on. But in July everything changes. He tells Miss Mabel that he thinks they should just build a house in a new neighborhood just opening up called Earl Brewer Subdivision which became Belhaven. He had all the finances figured out and talked about bringing up a “sketch” when he came up for a visit so they could plan everything they wanted in a house.
    Finally the day arrived when they married in Urbana on September 18, 1912. In a scrapbook my grandmother kept (She kept many scrapbooks, everything pasted in them) the following little short piece from the newspaper was pasted in one of these fragile scrapbooks. I presume paper was the Clarion Ledger. It is yellowed and quite short, but answers the question we started with and the following is a quote from the piece.
    “Marriage of Interest”
    “Friends of the groom in this city which has been his home for six months have received the following invitation: Mr. and Mrs. Stephen D. Kinnear request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Mabel to Mr. Noah Webster Overstreet on Wednesday, September the eighteenth, nineteen hundred and twelve, at half after seven o’clock, at their home , Urbana, Illinois….”
    The article goes on to tell who the bride and groom are and then says that after the marriage and honeymoon, “ the couple upon arriving here will have rooms with Mrs. Minnie Dameron until their own beautiful home out in the Brewey (Brewer) subdivision is complete–which will be at no distant day. Wherever they may be, at Mrs. Dameron’s or in their own home, they will receive a cordial welcome from people and the friends of the happy groom will take his lovely wife into the magic circle with sincere pleasure.”
    Another little piece from the newspaper a year later tells us the following:
    “Sweet Homes Complete.
    The beautiful residences section of the capital city known as the Brewer has some of the most picturesque homes to be found in Jackson,and none among the number exceed in artistic beauty the residences of Mr. Overstreet or that of Mr. Spencer in Edgewood.”
    The article goes on to tell that both young couples have just had their first child and this gains “sweet completion with the coming of little children in both.”
    I can add that I remember celebrating my Father’s 60th birthday and my grandmother saying that she remembers that day very well as he was born in that house on Gillespie Street in 1913 and she and he were so glad to have some quiet time later that day to “get acquainted with one another.”
    So yes, my Grandfather did live in that house that he built for his bride. But the rest of the story is one that describes what he did later. Each summer my grandmother and her son Webb, Jr, took the train up to Illinois and visited her family in Urbana for much of the summer. While she was gone, Granddaddy then sold the house and told her after the deed was complete. He saw that he could make money and also felt that a house on President Street would be better for them to live in now. I never heard what Grandmother said to him when she found out. And it happened again in their lives!! But that is another story. I had never seen the newspaper ad shown in the article I am adding to and it further proves the family story of the house sale. In addition, while looking for the articles I have quoted from, I found an article from the Clarion Ledger of July 24, 1979, featuring the very house, being owned by Margaret Barrett at that time. It has some interesting information about the house including this answer from a builder they asked to look at the house before they bought it since it was quite old: “the house literally couldn’t be blown off the foundation.”

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