Photo by Sue WatsonAngel Hernandez proudly stands on the rim of the reflecting pool at Featherston. He is helping his dad, Leobardo, work on the restoration of Featherston plus projects at Walter Place this summer.
Polk Place is prepped for painting.
There is a lot of work taking place at Featherston and Polk Place in Holly Springs.
The rose garden and fountain in the circular drive are cleaned out. The wrought iron on the gates between Featherston and the Japa nese Gardens and park has a new coat of black glossy paint.
Featherston itself has been revitalized with new exterior paint. Polk Place has been power washed and stripped for paint.
Inside Featherston the rooms have been restored with fresh paint or wallpaper. It looks like a new house.
This is all due to the detail work being done at these two historic cottages on Craft Street in Holly Springs.
Thirteen-year-old Angel Hernandez is learning about the history of Holly Springs as he helps his dad, Leobardo Hernandez, restore the homes to their original luster. Anyone would be proud to own one of these and live in it.
Angel, a student at Byhalia Middle School who will be in the eighth grade this fall, said he is learning about the history of these antebellum homes and cottages from firsthand experience and by reading all about them on the internet.
He and his dad also remodeled the swimming pool at Walter Place and painted the reflection pond.
The work of love is a family affair. Angel, his mom and dad, two sisters, an uncle and one aunt remodeled Featherston.
Owner Terry Cook, who recently purchased and renovated Walter Place, said possible uses for Polk Place and Featherston are events or a B&B.
“I would like to have Air B&B and maybe some off-site meetings, bridal showers, or events,” Cook said. “I just have some ideas I’m tossing around.”
Other work taking place this fall will be cleaning and clearing the park between Walter Place and the two cottages.
Cook said he when he first purchased Walter Place, he was not thinking about buying the cottages.
“I kept seeing the cottages just keep sitting on the market with no movement,” he said. “History was disappearing before our eyes as we drove by.”
The kitchen and living quarters behind Featherston is something Cook wants to use as a showpiece.
“I would love to be part of the ‘Behind the Big House (tour),’” he said. “I think history is as important as what happened during those periods.”
Part of the restoration of the cottages includes painting inside and out, Cook said.
And leaks around the chimneys are being repaired. Gutters did the most damage to the exteriors in both homes, he said.
And the wallpaper in each home is being preserved as long as it can be cleaned and repaired.
“I don’t know who or how long those wallpapers have been there or which family maybe changed them,” he said.
The Cook girls have adapted well to living in the Big House, Cook said.
“They are really enjoying the pool and having friends over,” their father said. “They have adapted really well to the home and size. Each girl has her own room and bathroom, so that has been great for them.”
Since timing is everything, Cook said he expects to have both cottages restored by August and furnishings in both. “As soon as the pandemic is calmer, I will get aggressive about what direction I will go with the cottages,” he said. “It’s been fun seeing them come back to life. People in town have enjoyed seeing the progress as well,” he said. “I look forward to what will come next.”
When asked if he is likely to be seen at events on the properties in tails and top hat, Cook said, laughing, “I might just purchase a tux with tails and top hat for fun. I like to have fun.”
2020 Heritage Awards
Cook was selected by the 2020 Heritage Awards Jury to be recognized for the preservation job he has done on Walter Place.
“We will be having a presentation later here in Holly Springs when things get back to normal gatherings,” he said.
To view the presentation visit MSHeritage Trust on Facebook. Or see the Mississippi Heritage Trust award of merit for the restoration of Walter Place at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1jk3tU8mR84BbcszYRa2cjZt3H18a5TZ5.