Southern Comfort

 

Boarding HouseOn quiet Mulberry Street, stands one of the oldest homes in the neighborhood. This Gothic Revival home was built at the end of the Reconstruction Era sometime between 1867-1876. The original owner, James Cain Little, joined the Confederacy at the age of 17 before becoming President of the local railroad for 30 years. James was the son of Robert Patterson Little and Elizabeth Cain Little, and was a prominent merchant in town from 1869 until the early 20th century.

Southern Comfort
A photo of the Little family on the front porch in 1896. The owner, James Cain Little, is at the right next to his second wife Nellie. His mother is behind him and 6 of his children are on the porch.

In 1875, Mr. Little bought approximately half of a city block from William A. Wilkens, one of the early large property owners in town. The purchase price was $2,000. The following year, Mr. Little contracted with L.J. Guilmartin & Co. to build his large residence. He paid them $4,000 to build his 5,000 square foot home on one of the corner lots. The elegant home featured a dramatic central staircase, 15-foot ceilings, a wrap around front porch, etched transom windows, and other ornate details.

Smith HomeJames Little sold the home to his wife, Nellie Patterson Little, for $5,300 in 1911.  It is believed the transfer to his wife was a sale, and not a gift. This transaction must have been business or legal related. James Cain Little passed away in 1917.

Southern ComfortHard times followed, the boll weevil destroyed the cotton industry in the South throughout the 1920s. Bad economic times got even worse with the crash of the stock market in 1929, triggering the Great Depression which lasted until World War II. Many farmers, merchants, banks, and businesses failed during this period. Nellie Little never remarried after her husband’s death. She sold the residence to C.W. Powers in 1924 for $6,500.

Smith House
The large rosewood staircase and heart pine floors immediately grab your attention.

In 1937, in the depths of the Depression, Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) foreclosed on the C.W. Powers property. HOLC sold the home at auction for $4,900. In 1948, the heirs of Minnie W. McDaniel sold the property to Mrs. Winnie W. McDaniel for the sum of $7,500. During the 1950s, the downstairs rooms were used as a boarding house. The home was shared by 3 aunts, one had a home beauty salon on the right side downstairs, which was her main source of income. In 1987, the children of Winnie McDaniel sold the property to Eve Maria Griffin for $30,000.

Southern Comfort
This downstairs front bedroom was packed with clothing and random objects.

 Eve Griffin owned the property until last year. She was a well-known lounge singer in the area during the 1960s and 1970s. She bought the house in 1987 but lived there years earlier with her mom, Hattie Mae Willie (Minnie McDaniels’ niece), and her 4 siblings. Eve’s younger brother is Ennis Willie, somewhat famous for his graphic novels. He wrote his first book Vice Town at the house in 1962. He wrote his novel drafts on a Royal typewriter he kept in the downstairs front bedroom. Below, a photos of one of several Royal typewriters left in the home.

Southern ComfortIn 1965, after 21 crime novels and several short stories under his belt, Mr. Willie decided to quit writing. He moved to Atlanta to open a printing business and start a family. To his credit, one of his novels became the influence for an Academy-Award winning movie.

Boarding House

Southern Comfort
Wedding photos, divorce papers, and family photos were littered throughout.
Smith Home
The upstairs master bedroom appears untouched for decades.
Southern Comfort
Plaster from the falling ceiling covers the upstairs floor.

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort
This Guild acoustic guitar was a pricey instrument in its time, there’s not much left of it today.

Southern Comfort

Southern Comfort
The kitchen was still fully stocked. Every cabinet was full of pots, pans, glasses, and plates.
Southern Comfort
An upstairs bedroom decorated for a child had the worse decay with a large, exposed hole where the ceiling collapsed.
Southern Comfort
Nintendo controllers and a vintage television in a child’s room.
Southern Comfort
One of the downstairs rooms that was converted into a bedroom.

 The roof is in need of extensive repairs. There are large exposed holes causing mold and falling plaster everywhere. Although the area is in a historic district, there are no plans to add this house to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2017, the Louisville Downtown Development Authority gained control of the property with the goal of stabilizing and saving the house. The authority has made an effort to stabilize the roof and clear away the underbrush. The home is currently listed for sale for $15,000.

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15 Replies to “Southern Comfort”

  1. Excellent job on this. The pictures are stunning and the research you’ve done is impressive. This is the heart of what our hobby is….to gain a glimpse into the past and try to feel the lives that were once there. Thank you for taking us with you!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Haunting photos that leave us with a greater understanding and at the same time…confusion. What could have have been an amazing home…left untouched. I saw this article on the Daily Mail UK online newspaper. It listed the home as being in Utica, MS – is there any way to verify that? I’m originally from that area and would love to know where it is located. Some friends in the area have ties to the Historical Society and have some interest in the house if it is in the area. Fascinating photography!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry, Mr. Kent, but I think you have your location wrong. The Proper People on YouTube did a real-time, recorded tour of his home and they said it’s in Mississippi. Since they were actually walking through the house at that very moment while they were filming, I’m sure they would have known if they *weren’t* in MS. I know you were there in person, also; I’m just saying that maybe between your shoot and the time you actually looked through the camera roll, you forgot where these were taken? Because in fact, your pictures were featured on another blog where the house is also claimed to be located in MS. I think perhaps when you went to write this post and looked through your camera roll, you misremembered the location of the shoot, simply because there was a large amount of time between the actual shoot and the creation of the blog post. Just saying.

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    1. LOL. Well, originally I told the Daily Mail the house was in Utica, MS to detour any vandalism. I was there before those guys and they maintained the anonymity of the location with their video. Now that the house has been cleared and sold the real location can be said. Have a good day.

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