HABS in Mississippi: Burrus House, Benoit

The Burrus House, also known as “Hollywood” or “Baby Doll House,” is listed on the National Register, and the MDAH Historic Resources Database has this to say about it:

Construction began on “Hollywood” in 1858, for John C. Burrus, who was among the first to settle in Bolivar County, Mississippi, when lands were opened by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. The house is the only extant “mansion type” structure remaining in the county.

The once-grand mansion was in a precarious condition in 1936 when our old friend James Butters took two photos of the building for the Historic American Building Survey, one from the front and one from the back, which was already missing its original double gallery.

Burris House, Benoit, Bolivar County, MS. James Butters, HABS Photographer, August 28, 1936 FRONT (NORTHEAST CORNER)

Burris House, Benoit, Bolivar County, MS. James Butters, HABS Photographer August 28, 1936. REAR (SOUTHWEST CORNER)

Already consigned to tenancy by the time HABS documented the building, the house declined even more through the 20th century, propped up with replacement Corinthian “Temple of the Winds” columns for the filming of the 1956 movie “Baby Doll,” but falling back into decay thereafter. The Bolivar County Historical Society tried to take it on in the 1970s.  When it was listed on the National Register in 1975, only two of the replacement columns supported the massive front gable.

Burrus House, from the 1975 National Register nomination. Compare the columns here with those shown in the HABS photos, which have now been reconstructed and installed.

But the society’s energies fizzled out, and they eventually gave the house back to the Burrus family. The Burrus House website picks up the story, which is a preservation-by-one-family story to rival the Snows at Waverley:

It was in 2001 that a close call with a tornado caused the collapse of the front gable and columns. After that, one of the Burrus heirs, the late Dr. E. H. Winn Jr., of Greenville, had a tin roof put on the house to “mothball” it, saving it from further deterioration. Dr. Winn would say the house “was on his watch”, and in 2005 he established the Burrus Foundation. He then donated to the Foundation which funded the entire restoration of the home. The project was managed by the Foundation’s board and directed by his daughter Barry Foster. The home is now restored to its former splendor, with a few new amenities like electricity, plumbing, and central heat and air. The home is now under management of Hollywood Plantation, LLC, and is available to rent for special events. In June of 2012 the home was host to a beautiful wedding reception, which was the first of many to come.

Read more and see pictures of the restored Burrus House. . .


MDAH Historic Resources Database record: http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/prop.aspx?id=3061&view=facts&y=728

National Register nomination (1975): http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/nom/prop/3061.pdf

HABS Library of Congress online record: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/ms0070


More HABS? Yes, please!



Categories: Antebellum, Architectural Research, Cool Old Places, Delta, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation

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7 replies

  1. i saw this house several times before it was saved; its rebirth is a real success story; wish we knew more about the circumstances of its construction–or, maybe there has been more info found out in the past few years? i have commented before about the house on misspreservation. i urge you all to watch ‘baby doll’ again–the house is certainly one of the ‘stars’ of the movie!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. my previous comments on this house were posted on nov 14, 2016, in the post entitled, ‘come to the delta drive-in’—

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have great documentation of its last restoration of the Burrus House and inside photos before the work was done.

    Washington county, Miss. Has some serious HABS issues which need correcting, but no one seems to have the authority to do them. It misnames images of Locust plantation, home of W. P. Montgomery, as Wildwood which was next to it and another nearby plantation, Swiftwater, image is listed as Locust. I think there are a couple more. This needs correcting because it is wrong and many locals without an eye are interpreting the history incorrectly.

    Like

  4. Ed,

    I found a photo of your precious pre-modified with clockworks Lowndes County courthouse in a book handed down to me by my grandfather Oscar Ray Burkett. The book, Volume 1 Mississippi:The Heart of the South , also has a photo of the Mississippi territorial Capitol bldg. in Jackson and the Miss. Capitol Bldg. in Noxubee County. This blog doesn’t accept cellphone photos?

    https://www.newspapers.com/clip/30974983/inauguration_of_miss_gov_clark/

    Like

  5. The 1908 downside of that clockworks addition to the 1901 redesign of the old Lowndes county courthouse.

    https://www.newspapers.com/image/252094488

    Like

  6. During the remodeling of the old Lowndes county courthouse in 1901, a special post office was established in Memphis…Confederate Hall Station

    https://www.newspapers.com/clip/30118096/columbus_courthouse_to_be/

    Like

  7. hey, mr gentry—

    thank you for mentioning the photos/images in ‘ms/the heart of the south’, and, yes, i found them some time ago, i still want to get back to that post or do a separate one sometime–

    Like

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