by: Whitley Rives
Swanee Lynn has been in love all her life -- with a house.
up, she would walk by the abandoned Walter Place in Holly
Springs, with its castle-like appearance done up in an unusual
Greek Revival style, complete with massive Gothic towers.
She wondered what treasures lay inside.
marrying Mike Lynn, she brought him to the house and together
they peeked in the windows. "Buy me this house,"
she said. He laughed.
never be able to afford this house," he said. That all
changed after the Lynns moved away and Mike pursued a career
in sports management.
In the middle of all this success
and a new life up North, a spark still burned in Jorja's heart.
By 1983, the owners wanted to sell Walter Place; the Lynns
got the house and everything inside.
"I was ecstatic, to say
the least," Jorja says. "This house was built back
when grandeur was the thing to do."
retired as general manager of the Minnesota Vikings in 1993 so Holly
Springs and Jorja's beloved
Place became home.
Walter Place Estate, Cottages
and Gardens is the centerpiece of the 67th Annual Holly
Springs Pilgrimage, April 13-17. It is one of many beautiful
homes on tour in the town dubbed "The Antebellum
Capital of the Mid-South."
General Ulysses S. Grant pulled the Union army out of
Holly Springs, his wife and son were living at Walter
Place. It is widely believed that, as a result, he spared
the town the usual destruction inflicted on Confederate
towns, preserving one of the most impressive collections
of antebellum properties in the nation.
Place was built by Harvey Washington Walter, who gained
his wealth building railroads. After surviving the Civil
War, he and his sons died in the yellow fever epidemic
youngest daughter married Oscar Johnson, a native of
nearby Red Banks. After becoming wealthy in St. Louis
during the Spanish-American War, they returned to Holly
Springs and purchased the home where she had grown up.
Johnson added two cottages to the property for use by
guests and commissioned designs for lavish gardens,
which he planned
to make into a park for the city. But Johnson died before
his dreams were realized.
the time the Lynns entered the picture, every feature
in the house, from the early 1900s wiring to the floors,
begged for attention.
tell people to be careful what they wish for," she says,
might have written the Great American Novel or done something
amazing but instead I've spent all my free time working on
there was plenty of satisfaction. The Lynns found Johnson's
original landscaping plans and recently completed the
first phase in a three-year plan that features a 5-acre
isn't the only beautifully restored home on the pilgrimage,
however. Among those featured for the first time are
Crump Place, the boyhood home of E.H. "Boss"
Crump, legendary mayor of Memphis; Montrose, built in
1858 as a wedding present; and Finley Place, which,
along with its 2,500-acre Strawberry Plains estate,
is now home to the National Audubon Society. The Terrace
and Hilltop are also on the tour.
built in 1856, will likely be one of the tour’s
popular stops because owner Dr. Alfred Hale has painstakingly
filled it with museum-quality antiques collected on
his travels throughout Europe, New York and New Orleans.
Hale boasts what is considered the largest private collection
of Sevres porcelain in America. Visitors should enjoy
the exquisite collections. Designer Dottie Sanders ASID
of Memphis coordinated the color schemes, draperies
and furniture placement.
participants can watch as re-enactors recreate military
life during the Civil War. Eight interpretive markers
will be dedicated on Saturday, April 16, commemorating
the 1862 Van Dorn Raid on the Union supply base in Holly
Springs. In the raid, Confederate cavalry destroyed
stockpiles of Union supplies, forcing Grant to retreat
Rev. Will Berger of Cleveland, Miss., will treat visitors
to recitals on three vintage Pilcher organs Friday and
Saturday. Visitors may ride carriages drawn by Percheron
horses and tour the Yellow Fever Martyrs Church
events include a wine and cheese reception at Montrose
and candlelight tours of Hillcrest Cemetery, one of
the oldest cemeteries in the state where costumed storytellers
will bring to life some of Holly Springs' most illustrious
can also visit Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum and Cultural
Center of African-American History, named for the civil
rights pioneer, journalist and teacher who was one of
the founders of the NAACP.
is also home to the Kate Freeman Clark Memorial Art
Gallery, containing the largest collection of paintings
by a single artist in the world. Kate Freeman Clark
left Holly Springs at 16 to study at the New York School
of Art. She showed her 1,000-plus works in cities from
Chicago to New York. Upon her death at 81, she willed
her home, paintings and money to the city to build a
gallery to house her work.
Springs Pilgrimage begins April 13 and 14 with a preview
opening of Walter Place Estate, Cottages and Gardens
and continues April 15-17. Ticket prices for the various
events range from $12 for the wine-and-cheese reception
and cemetery tour to $35 for all-day home tours.
information and advance tickets call Susie Murphy at
662.252.6479, Mindy Gresham at 662.252.1537 or the Holly
Springs Tourism and Recreation Bureau at 662.252.2515;
or online, www.visithollysprings.org.
March 12-16, 601.446.6631
March 12-April 2, 601.636.9421
March 25-April 10, 662.329.3533
Tour of Homes
Magnolia, March 30, 601.783.6572
Gulf Coast Annual Spring Pilgrimage
April 2-9; includes Biloxi (228.872.7738),
Waveland (228.463.9222), Ocean Springs (228.875.4424)
April 7-10, 662.369.9440
Homes and Gardens
April 30, 601.833.1411