Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ghosts Along The Mississippi

As a child, I read many books on architecture about Mississippi and Louisiana. My interest in architecture all started on a visit to the library one day when I came across this book:

The author of the book is Clarence John Laughlin and it
includes his photography as well. 

Belle Grove Plantation

This home in Louisiana is what started my fascination with historical architecture. Check the people out on the left side of the roof.  This was one massive plantation home. I started pouring over every book and magazine I could find to absorb architectural details. Even started collecting tons of coffee table books.

Thinking back, I was constantly getting into trouble with my school teachers for drawing architectural designs in my school books and notebooks while I should had been listening and learning in the classroom.

Eighth Grade Georgia History Class
I got into trouble for drawing and Mrs. Downer required me to write the Declaration of Independence twenty five times. 
Never did it.
She'd always ask for it and I would tell her that I was on it.

The First Day of Twelfth Grade English
Mr. Littlefield, I hear that you like to draw,
your brother like to draw in my class,
you are not going to draw in my classroom
are you Mr. Littlefield?
Nooooooooo, Mrs. Kirkland

I never realized that the incredible photos in the books of old homes had a history to tell of time and place until Santa one year gave me the book:

The limited edition of this book was littered with drawings of architectural details, site plans, elevations, and floor plans of structures of every imagination. The history of architecture in this region was well represented.  This was when I realized that the grand plantation homes that survived, many of their accompanying outbuildings did not.  During the race to save "The Big House", the outlying structures lost out.

This was not the case for Moye Plantation. When I finally got my license to drive, I drove over to Moye Plantation and knocked on the front door. I explained my interest in architecture and the lady of the "Big House" let me wonder all around the property.

Let me tell ya!
They had a privy that was a five seater!
Five different sized holes.
Go figure!

At the time of my visit, a snake was inside on the floor of the old and unused privy. By a vote of 1-0, I elected not to go inside of it!

I had some wonderful pictures of the five seater looking in from the door with the snake included but the flood of 1994 in Americus and southwest Georgia took care of that.  That is another story in itself.

Soon after that visit, I started collecting more detailed regional history books on architecture to learn more about antebellum homes and their surrounding outbuildings. 

I'd like to share with you my latest find
from the publishers of The History Press.

The book chronicles the history of the home's architecture and the history of the owners in this region of Alabama.  Not much is detailed on the surrounding outbuildings, but it is a short interesting read. Probably the most unusual and interesting of these structures is Kenworthy Hall.  For southern Alabama in the late 1850's, the Italianate mansion is an unusual design for a plantation home. The reason why, famed architect Richard Upjohn of New York designed the home.
Kenwothy Hall

Upjohn was famous for his Gothic Revival architecture and his designs of many churches such as the Trinity Church in New York City. Any history major or architect will be able to tell you that one of Newport's first summer "cottages", the Kingscote Cottage, was designed by Upjohn. 
An interesting fact about the summer cottage is that Kingscote was built by George Noble Jones owner of Chemonie and El Destino Plantations in northern Florida.  Does a Noble Jones of Wormsloe Plantation near Savannah ring a bell for anyone?  Well, they are ancestors.

Check out "Kenworthy Hall" and "Belle Grove, White Castle" in the Built In America series of the Library of Congress for their drawings and pictures.  You will have to use the search box, the URL are to long to place on here.


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