Thursday, September 9, 2010

History of Carrollton

There's not much happened with me since attending the Thacker reunion. I'm getting ready to go to the farm and celebrate Punkin's 1st birthday so stay tuned I know there will be lots of photos coming soon.

I've been reading up on the history of Greenwood and Carrollton. Here is some of the information I have found that I thought was really interesting. Enjoy

The town the railroad bypassed in 1889 is almost untouched by the twentieth century, thanks to the commitment of the citizens of Carrollton to revive and restore their historic town. Their appreciation of its past has inspired many residents to restore buildings a century and a half old, and a love for historic Carrollton has even brought former residents home to open new businesses.

"Carrollton was on the stagecoachroute from Memphis to New Orleans, " said Wilton Neal, tax assessor. That's the sort of thing you grow up knowing if you grow up in Carrollton, or in North Carrollton as Wilton did. And it's the sort of thing that rolls off your tongue whether you grew up there, lived there in the summers, or adopted Carrollton as your own town.

In recognition of the community's efforts to preserve Carrollton's history, the whole town was added to the National Register of Historic places in 1976 as an historic district. As an historic district, Carrollton's buildings, landscaping, fences, setting, and the confederate monument on the courthouse grounds, are on the register. But even as the town strives to preserve its past with museums and restored homes, the historic buildings are housing thriving new businesses, as well.

One new business located on Highway 17, off Highway 82 between Winona and Greenwood is the Peppercorn Grill, owned by Shelly and Andy Rone.This bustling restaurant serves just about everything you could want, and the menu says if you don't see something you want, just ask. If you aren't craving a burger, chicken, or Philly cheese steak sandwich, a waitress will quickly tell you that kabobs and frog legs are available.

At the entrance of town is the Merrill Museum. The museum is proud to possess the largest collection of photographs and memorabilia from the family of Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful. Senator McCain's great-grandfather and namesake, John McCain, Sr., was once sheriff of Carrollton. Recently, CNN filmed the museum and aired the show before the election in November.

Sheriff McCain was also the grandfather of Elizabeth Spencer, a critically acclaimed novelist, who wrote her memoirs in Landscapes of the Heart, which offers a look at Carrollton when its population was 608--twice what it is now.

The home where Spencer wrote her memoirs is not far from the recently renovated Sullivan House in Carrollton. The Sullivan House, was restored this past summer by Carrollton resident Wessie Gee, and "when the preservation ladies Carrollton Historic preservation, heard about the renovation blessing, they began planning," says Gee. They served cold fruit punch, homemade sandwiches, and cookies to thank the many people who helped Gee with the restoration.

"There was no blueprint," Gee recalls. "We had to figure out how to redo it as we went. The house is as original as possible, other than the addition of the kitchen."

Gee's Store 
Lexington St. Gee's Store is the oldest business in Carroll County under the same name.

This community-wide passion for restoration has drawn attention from around the state. Todd Sanders, architectural historian with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, claims that "Carrollton is one of my favorite places to be because of the energy and all the restoration. Not too long ago we were worried about Carrollton. Then citizens began to realize what a special place it is."

Carrollton received media attention this year when the first new business on the square, Carroll County Market, was featured on the Mississippi Roads show during Walt Grayson's visit to Carrollton. Co-owned by three relatives who have come home to Carrollton, Carroll County Market is a unique dining and music venue.

"We've had tremendous success on Saturdays," says part-owner Glenda Jones. "People come from all over--Jackson, Greenwood, Grenada--and they all say the same thing: 'We love this place'."

Saturday nights, Glenda's brother, Cecil Abels, and her son, Greg Jones, also part-owners, book live bands. Nash Street, a bluegrass band from Starkville, played at the Carroll County Market before capturing the $100,000 top prize in a national contest in Nashville. The blues, bluegrass, and country music are a good fit both for the customers and the Carroll County Market decor. A sign inside reads, "This is not a museum ... all this junk is for sale."

Nestled next door to the Carroll County Market is another new business that opened in April. Miss Sippy's Coffee Shop and Mercantile, owned by Betty Ray, was named with her grandfather in mind, as he once was in the mercantile business in Carrollton. Although the name says coffee shop, sandwiches, salads, plate lunches, and desserts are served as well. Ray's guest book has visitor's signatures from towns all over Mississippi and out of state documenting the shop's popularity. When Ray moved back to Carrollton, she also purchased her great-great grandfather Captain William Ray's house.
Captain Ray House
110 W. Washington St. The home was built prior to 1844. Remodeled for William Ray during the 1850's adding a second story. Scenes from the movie "The Reivers" were filmed here.

Neighboring Miss Sippy's is Zona Studio and Gallery. Zona Pilgreen opened the studio as an outlet for local artists, channeling her desire to restore the building and give it a function.

Offering art classes for children and adults, the shop also hosts painting workshops conducted by instructors from New York.

The last storefront on the square is the newest business, Merganzers, named after the Merganser duck, is owned by Paige and Scotty Thornton. The gift and novelty shop features the work of local potters and artists, jewelry, body care products, designer tote bags with umbrellas to match, and many other items.

Across the street, Ye Olde Town Water Department has gotten a face-lift. The building, owned by Linda McGregor and leased to the city, was eligible for a renovation grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History because at one time it housed the city hall.

Lum Reek, another historical fixture in Carrollton, was recently restored by Libba and Tommy Goodman. Tommy is a retired architect and teaches at Mississippi State University. Their home was named after a Scottish toast, "Lang may ye lum reek," which means "long may your chimney smoke."

"About all we had to start with was smoke," Goodman said. "The floor was dirt and termites had eaten the floor boards. We had to tear everything out, number the wall boards, save the nails, re-insulate, and put the boards back the way they were."

Lum Reek was originally a two-room dog-trot when it was built in 1839-1840. The second floor, added in 1850, gave the home a neoclassical look. The Goodman's added a kitchen, den, bedroom, and bathrooms to the house, but they were careful to retain elements from the home's origins. The home's original faux grain doors are in the upstairs bedroom, and pieces of wood from the back porch walls line the walls of the den.

The Carroll County Antiquities Society recently obtained ownership of the Conservative newspaper office off the square, and they have a 99-year lease on the old jail that is no longer in use since the building of the new jail in Vaiden. "We've talked about making the Conservative office into a welcome center and the old jail into a place for artists; maybe with some rooms fixed for out-of-towners," said Glenda Jones. "But the Merrill Museum is in the worst condition. We have to concentrate on that first."

Masonic Lodge  
Located on Lexington Street. Organized in 1834. The present building was constructed in1899. 

 The work is ongoing to restore, protect, and treasure the buildings in Carrollton. The Masonic Lodge, one of the oldest buildings still being used in the state, is currently being restored. Wessie Gee is also working on another home, Seven Gables. Did new businesses come because of the restoration of old buildings or vice versa. Whatever the answer, the result is preservation of a remarkable, historic Mississippi town.

Carroll County Courthouse
Lexington St. Built in 1876 after the first building burned. It houses a complete set of County records.

.J.Z. George Law Office E. Washington St. Built in 1838

Community House
Lexington St. Built in 1936 out of native pine logs with WPA labor. Mr. W. D. Felts was the contractor. The Community House is jointly owned by the Town of Carrollton and the Board of Supervisors for the County.

McEachern House
Lexington St. Built in 1907 for the McEacherns. The roof of this house was to be steep enough that no leaks would ever occur. Now owned by Farrish Jenkins and used as an antique shop called "Antiques and Stuff". 

Vance House - Old Hotel
801 Lexington St. Probably built by Dr. Hart circa 1880. 
Used as a boarding house and hotel until circa 1930. 

Carrollton Presbyterian Church 
604 Green St. Organized in 1833. Present building built in 1897.

Grace Episcopal Church 
301 E. Washington St. The church was organized by
Bishop William Mercer Green. The present building erected in 1884.

Carrollton Baptist Church
The church was established as a house church of 9 members in 1833 near Coila, Ms.
By 1838 land had been purchased where the present church was built in 1894 and 1895, and the name of the church changed from Bethel Baptist Church to Carrollton Baptist Church. U.S.Senator J.Z. George was probably it's most prominent member.

Carrollton Methodist Church
Located on Green St. The church was organized in 1833. The present church building was built in 1885. The annex was added in 1976. 

Bear Marsh M.B. Church
Prior to 1869, most blacks in Carroll County worshiped with the whites. As their numbers grew so did the desire for their own church. Bear Marsh M.B. Church was established as the first black church in Carroll County. Bear Marsh M. B. Church is still a vibrant and active church.
112 W. Washington St. The present home was built circa 1860. This is a fitting name for this rambling 2 story house whose owners have been many. It was remodeled in the 1990's by the present owners.

Woodson Hall
(James A. Young House) 904 College St. The home was built prior 1841. This was once the home of Dr. Holman whose family started the Jitney Jungle grocery store chain. Remodeled in the 1980's and enclosed with a wrought iron fence.

The Oaks
1001 College St. The Oaks was built in 1848 for Green Jenkins. The Oaks has a framework built of hand-hewn materials pegged together. Nails were used only in the roof and weatherboarding. There are seven sets of double entrances in the original rooms.

Bingham House
106 W. Washington Street. Built prior to 1869 and remodeled by R.L. Bingham. The opening scene of Faulkner's "The Reivers" shows Steve McQueen appearing on the upper balcony.

Browning House
The Browning House is sometimes called the Buckland House after the builder of the house. It dates to 1891. It sits on the site of the first Carroll County Courthouse built in 1836.

A lot of the photos are my own, most of the information was taken from: