Thursday, February 5, 2015

'Mount Holly', the Charles Dudley House, Foote, MS

'Mount Holly', Foote, MS. 1856 Photos: Joseph

'Mount Holly' is a plantation house is central Mississippi built in 1856 for Charles Dudley. It was designed by either Samuel Sloan or Calvert Vaux, two of the most important Italianate architects practicing in the mid 19th century. Calvert Vaux is a strong contender, since the house closely resembles one of his published plans. Only an architect's intervention could explain the defining odd feature of the house, the fact that it conforms roughly to the irregular plan, but it lacks two of the most important features found on this style. First and most obvious, there is no tower. Rather the place where the tower should rise is a strongly projecting, gabled bay. Second, is the fact that the 'tower' element projects further than the left hand section that should extend the furthest. The emphasis has been entirely shifted to the center of the house, even though it is clearly irregular because of the strong recess on the right wing and the projection of the left wing.

Ornamentally, the house is as spare as they come. There are no window moldings, just paired tombstone windows. The brackets are paired as well, simple, and united by a architrave molding. Even the porches are simple, consisting of plain arches and square columns. The house was almost certainly stuccoed in some pastel beige. However, playfulness appears in the central door. It is recessed in a portico that is triple arched Palladian in form with an elaborate cornice, large, acanthus leaf brackets, and small brackets. This is a surprisingly high-style porch on a house that doesn't have a lot of ornament, and it relieves the simplicity of the facade. The chimneys as well have toothed and paneled brickwork. The house is currently abandoned by its owner and was listed in 2011 as one of Mississippi's most endangered places. The plan below is taken from one of Clavert Vaux' drawings on which the house seems to have been based and perhaps shows how the interior is arranged.

NOTE: This house burned down June 17, 2015

Photo: HABS

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