Springs tourism gets boost
home restorations on schedule
and Featherston Place are undergoing extensive
restoration this winter and the historic homes will be
open for this years Pilgrimage April 13-17,
according to owners Jorja and Mike Lynn.
construction of a botanical garden behind the houses is
also underway and will be ready for the tour this year.
Walking trails, a 150 foot serpentine waterfall and a
natural pond are featured in the botanical garden.
are rejoining properties that once were a part of the
Walter Place estate. They are restoring two homes and
creating three botanical gardens.
restoration of Polk Place and Featherston involves using
many materials and furnishings that were in storage.
Extensive use of wallpaper copied from the periods when
the homes were built will give tourists the feel of
taking a step back in time.
history, there would be no point of restoration of the
homes or the construction of botanical gardens, Jorja
trying to go back to the period of 1903 when additions
were made to the 1836 cottages, she said.
Oscar Johnson of Red Banks and his brother and uncle
operated a mercantile business in Holly Springs in the
late 1800s before the Spanish American War broke out in
1898. Times were hard in Holly Springs and Johnson and
his brother moved to St. Louis and became involved in the
manufacturing of footwear known as Johnson Shoes.
war broke out, the Johnsons secured a contract with the
U.S. Military to make combat boots. The contract made the
Johnsons company very successful.
Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company, a footwear
jobber organized in 1898 in St. Louis, merged their
company with Peters Shoe Company in 1911 to form
International Shoe Company. Subsequent purchases led the
company to become the largest footwear manufacturer in
the country - a reputation it enjoyed for 50 years.
manufactured and sold brand name shoes - Johnson shoes,
Buster Brown shoes, and Red Goose shoes. Ultimately
International Shoe Company acquired other footwear
manufacturing companies like Florsheim Shoes and put St.
Louis on the map as a city of Shoes, Booze and
Johnson was married to Irene Walter, the younger daughter
of Col. and Mrs. Walter, the builders of Walter Place.
Johnson wanted to build a park in Holly Springs.
bought Polk Place and Featherston and gussied them
up, Lynn said, with the help of their friend
Link was a
renowned architect who designed the St. Louis Station in
1894, the Beaux Arts Style Mississippi Capitol in
1901-03, the Tibbe Power Plant in Washington, Missouri in
1904, the International Shoe Company in St. Louis, and
most of the buildings Louisiana State University when it
was relocated in the 1920s. He designed over 100
buildings and is known for being the first to use
electric light decoratively.
without Links embellishments, the cottages of Polk
Place and Featherston would have been plain 1836 style
cottages - consisting of three rooms, a center hall and a
houses are examples of English Raised Basement
Cottages, she said.
involved digging a moat around the outside perimeter of
the cottage and adding windows to bring in light.
which would have been used as cellars or a simple
basement were used for a kitchen and dining area.
Link came to
Holly Springs in 1903 while he was working on the state
capitol building and designed a west wing for Polk Place
and added other improvements.
helped with the restoration of Ventress Hall at Ole Miss,
Lynn said. Ventress was built before the Civil War and
used as the Universitys first library.
dream of building a park on the 40-acre estate was cut
short by his sudden, untimely death at age 51. In the
Great Depression that followed his death portions of the
estate were sold off by subsequent owners who purchased
have invested in the property to restore the homes back
to their original design and true to detail for the
period where possible. It will fulfill Oscar
Johnsons dream for a park. When completed three
historic homes and three botanical gardens will all be
interconnected by scenic walking trails with water
interesting features of Polk Place, when it is restored,
include an upstairs bedroom outfitted with Irene
Johnsons furniture that has been at Walter Place.
The bedroom will have two identical Victorian
three-quarter size beds, one original and another copied.
Irene Johnson had a copy made from the original in 1936
by a local furniture maker.
from Walter Place was added above the fireplace in the
upstairs sitting room of Polk Place. Rooms have been
restored with documented wallpaper patterns including the
Winterthur pattern used in the DuPont Mansion in
wallpapers are documented copies of old wallpapers of the
period and reproduced for sale, Lynn said.
So, its true to the period. We are taking the
house back to where it had been added on, to make it look
like the house would have looked in 1903.
studio once built for Mrs. Carey (Jim) Tucker when she
owned Polk Place is being restored. Some of Tuckers
paintings, including a self-portrait, have been found in
the loft of the carriage house.
enough, when the Walter Place was being used as a
boarding house during and before the Depression, Tucker,
one of 10 children, lived there with her parents,
fireplace in the second floor bedroom at Polk Place has
been reopened and a mantel from the basement of
Featherston has been placed above it. Federal-style doors
stored in the attic of the carriage house have been used
where doors were missing in Polk Place and Featherston.
will be named The Walter Place Estate, Cottages and
Gardens, Lynn said.
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