Hernando North Side Historic District
The Hernando North Side Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nominaton document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Hernando North Side Historic District in Hernando, DeSoto County, Mississippi is composed of 25 resources including the R.C. Clifton House, a Craftsman style house facing Holly Springs Street between East Street and Church Street; houses along East Street from the rear of the Clifton lot to resources on the north side of West Northern Street at its intersection with East; and resources on West Valley Street eastward to its intersection with Northview Street. The Hernando North Side Historic District contains a diverse group of homes including three with Greek Revival, antebellum origins, the town's only full-blown Queen Anne house, a Colonial Revival house and four mid-20th century Tudor Revival examples. A single-pen one-and-a-half-story log house is an outbuilding to the Queen Anne house at 2375 East Street. Several newer, non-contributing houses are also in this district.
The residential lots in the Hernando North Side Historic District range in size from mid-size to fairly large. Most are shaded, some by large trees that look to be over fifty or more years of age. The sidewalks are basically street level with curbs and driveways. Most houses are set back about 50 feet, including the Greek Revival house (Owner, Sherill Stewart; Historically, Moseley) on the large lot at 120 West Valley Street. The Craftsman R.C. Clifton House (180 Holly Springs Street) was built at the back of the lot (a city block) with a setback of almost 200 feet. The most common changes to the houses in the Hernando North Side Historic District were attempts to "modernize" or add on to the original structure. Only three were altered significantly enough to be deemed non-contributing to the historical aspect of the district.
The Moseley/Stewart House at 120 West Valley Street and the Payne House at 190 West Northern Street date from the period when the Greek Revival style was most popular. Also, the remodeled house at 230 West Northern Street may have originally been Greek Revival, but was completely altered in the mid-to-late 20th century into a sort of Neo-Colonial style. The Moseley/Stewart House is a two-story frame, regularly massed house with a central, two-story, temple-front porch supported on paneled box columns. The Payne House is a one-story frame, Greek Revival cottage with a centered, one-bay, temple-front entry porch supported on box columns with Greek key details, a central hall with one room to each side, and later rear and western additions.
These examples give limited, but detailed information about the Greek Revival style, which was originally adopted for its philosophical connections to the Grecian early form of Democracy. Its regular massing, its generally "bulked-up" forms, and its geometry-inspired details carried the weight and sophistication that prosperous Americans thought were appropriate to their relatively new democratic enterprise. Greek Revival in the South, of course, became a dominant symbol of the plantation society that evolved during the great era of expansion in American territory.
The Queen Anne style, highly popular in the late 19th century, has only one major example in Hernando, the house at 2375 East Street. Queen Anne was "the ultimate" in Victorian excess. Queen Anne houses were highly irregular in massing, roof configuration, and decorative detail. They often had steeply-pitched hipped roofs, gables, dormers, and turrets covering various sections of the house and porch. Their exteriors were sided with several types of materials with different textures. Their interior and exterior trim was highly decorative and highly detailed: turned spindle work or cutwork; figural terra cotta; figural tile; patterned floor boards or tile; stained or leaded glass windows (or both); and patterned brickwork all figured into many Queen Anne houses. The style was a celebration of Industrial Age technology, a showcase of machine-made, ornate materials. Ostentation was the style's chief attribute: it was the choice for people who could afford excess and wanted their fellow citizens to know it.
The 2375 East Street house is not an excessive example of this excessive style, but it does have the appropriate irregular massing and roof details, a traditional wrap porch, and exterior siding details including novelty board and decorative wooden shingles on the upper story. It may be that this is Hernando's only surviving example because the style is notoriously hard to maintain. There was local money available in the early-to-mid 20th century, and this may have contributed to the replacement of Queen Anne houses by the more current and more modern Tudor Revival style which has so many good examples in Hernando.
Colonial Revival style took over from Queen Anne and other Victorian styles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The residential Colonial Revival style evolved out of the Columbian Exposition held in 1893, in Chicago. The Exposition's designer, Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, created a fairgrounds dominated by classically-inspired halls, accessory buildings, and landscaped grounds. Nicknamed "The White City" for its almost uniformly white structures and classical details, the Exposition was well attended and well-publicized. The simplified, regular massing, the geometrically-inspired columns, temple forms and decorative details borrowed from Greek and Roman examples provided a relief from the irregularity and layered detail of the Victorian styles.
Houses influenced by the Columbian Exposition's classical buildings took several forms. Common features of the forms, however, were classically-inspired entry doors and surrounds, simplified porches and porch supports such as Tuscan, Doric, or Ionic columns, symmetrical facades, and windows and doors with restrained classical details. The two-story, central-hall, rectangularly-massed, wood-framed-and-sided house at 2407 East Street, with its hip-roofed wrap porch supported on box columns and its centered hip-roofed dormer with "star-designed" mullions in its windows is a good example.
Craftsman-style homes and commercial buildings became popular soon after the turn of the 20th century, coexisting for a while with Colonial Revival and Victorian styles before becoming predominant in the 1920s and 1930s. The Craftsman style in America grew out of a campaign in England called the Arts and Crafts Movement. English designers campaigned to "re-educate" their countrymen away from the excessive Queen Anne and other Victorian styles starting in the 1880s and 1890s. The buildings they designed varied in form, but had in common an emphasis on simplified and hand-made detail. Their "anti-machine" movement was translated, in America, into the Craftsman style, which featured low-pitched roofs with exposed rafters, horizontal massing, and highly simplified details for brickwork and woodwork — with particular attention paid to the quality of materials and the "usefulness" of the house plan and features. The "top end" Craftsman houses were highly-crafted, simply-detailed, open-floor-plan examples like those of Greene & Greene, architects in Pasadena, California.
A good example of the Craftsman style is the two-story, highly-detailed R.C. Clifton house (Owner, Kathy Seiler; historically, R.C. Clifton), built at 180 Holly Springs Street on its own city block about 1917. The house is imposing, located on a landscaped ground and having a two-story central block and one-story rear wing. The Clifton house has the wide eaves, the horizontal lines, and the simplified details that mark the transition toward the house forms that are most familiar today. Its porte cochere probably sheltered more combustion-engine "coaches" than horse-drawn ones, and its one-story, hip-roofed "auto storage" building appears with it for the first time on the 1925 Sanborn Map. Tudor Revival is also a style adapted from English examples. Far from copying the styles of early-16th century England, though, America's Tudor Revival buildings were essentially modern in plan, with selected "references" to Tudor detail. Local examples of Tudor Revival appear to date from the 1920s and 30s, when brick veneering became available and affordable. This style was an alternative to both Craftsman and Colonial Revival and was the style of choice for many mid-20th century ventures into many "streetcar communities" and early subdivisions. Its popularity with homeowners was due to the combination of a romantic and "historical" exterior with a modern, bungalow-type plan featuring open public areas and modern kitchens and bathrooms. The main identifying features of this style are: steeply pitched roofs — often side-gabled, with multiple associated gables; multiple groups of windows, often tall and narrow, as in casement windows; round-arched openings for doors, vents, porches and porte cocheres, and round-arched details in brickwork; patterned brickwork; massive front-facing chimneys, often finished with "chimney pots," and false half-timbering in gable ends. Tudor Revival houses in the Hernando North Side Historic District are located on the south side of West Valley Street (131 West Valley Street), just west of the Moseley/Stewart House; and on both sides of East Street between West Valley and Northern streets (2355 and 2378 East Street and 2435 Northview Street.
The area to be known as North Side Historic District in Hernando, located in DeSoto County, is locally significant for its architecture and in the area of community planning and development. The period of significance for this district is 1850-1950, representing a hundred years of residential development in the town of Hernando. During this time, the residential district was expanding and the area became a blending of architecture styles from the popular style of the 1850s, Greek Revival, to the latest style of the 1930s and 40's, Tudor Revival.
DeSoto County was formed in 1836 from land ceded by the Chickasaws. The town of Hernando, originally named Jefferson, was also founded in 1836. There is some speculation that the town may have originated as an Indian trading post, and therefore predates the forming of the county. Edward Orne donated 40 acres of land to be used as the county seat. In 1836, this land was laid out with 172 lots surrounding a public square.
Hernando developed steadily as new transportation routes were developed. In 1839, the United States established a mail route from Holly Springs to Hernando. From Hernando the route continued to Commerce on the Mississippi River. In 1852, the state chartered a company to build a plank road from Panola to Memphis, going through Hernando. It was originally called the Panola-DeSoto Plank Road, and later changed to the Memphis and Hernando Plank Road. In 1856 the first train ran through Hernando on the Mississippi & Tennessee Railroad, which linked Memphis to Grenada. This brought about the demise of the Plank Road, but vastly improved the transportation of cotton and other agricultural crops to New Orleans.
The Civil War brought a halt to the progress of Hernando. Union troops occupied the town in 1863 and several other times, destroying many of the town's original buildings. The Reconstruction Era was as difficult in DeSoto County as elsewhere in the South, but as early as 1867, Hernando was rebuilding.
From about 1880 and continuing through the 1920s, Hernando and DeSoto County entered a prosperous period. J.B. Bell's Hernando Windows book describes turn-of-the-century Hernando as a small, agricultural town, growing slowly but steadily as a shipping center of agricultural production in traditional Southern crops such as corn, cotton, and rice and specialties like honey. The railroad carried crops toward Memphis or New Orleans and brought back goods to stock the general merchandise stores and specialty shops. Bell mentions virgin pine timber as a major product for rail shipment during the post-bellum years when Mississippi pine forests were being harvested.
Late-19th and early-20th century events that promoted prosperity in Hernando included: purchase and expansion of the Mississippi & Tennessee Railroad by the Illinois Central in 1886; establishment of the Farmer's Alliance in 1888; chartering of Hernando Bank in 1890; establishment of the first high schools for black and white students in the early 1890s; establishment of Randle University (first 9-month preparatory school) in 1901; introduction of car dealerships, 1913; expansion of city services to include first electric power plant in 1916) and city water system (1923); and organization of the Farm Bureau, 1927. (Bell, "History," pp.56-58)
Insurance maps created by the Sanborn Map Company of New York (available on microfilm at the First Regional Library,) offer the astounding evidence that in the 50 years between 1886 and 1936, a high percentage of Hernando's buildings were built - and then replaced by something else. This "high turnover" rate is due in some cases to the inevitable fires and storms that eliminated turn-of-the-century buildings everywhere. A 1923 tornado damaged the Courthouse and buildings on the north side of Courthouse Square, for example. But over time, the maps show substantial houses on residential streets being replaced by other substantial houses, and significant blocks of commercial buildings appearing and disappearing as though they were more temporary than the paper the maps are printed on.
Of the large Victorian-era homes shown on the 1886 through 1909 Sanborn maps, only a few survive including the Queen Anne house at 2375 East Street. Victorian-era homes were replaced by newer style houses.
Our Heritage and other local history publications document that Hernando's first automobile agency, a Ford dealership, was opened by W.H. Entrikin in 1913. The introduction of the car and other motorized vehicles such as delivery trucks coincided with changes in Hernando's development patterns, commercial orientation, and housing types. From 1910 up until the Great Depression (1930,) the population grew from 660 to 938 — about a 30 percent increase. Many of the town's good examples of Craftsman style houses, including the R.C. Clifton House (180 Holly Springs Street) appear to date from this era. The Craftsman style overcame Colonial Revival and Victorian era styles in popularity during these years and carried on through the World War II era.
Hernando continued to grow between 1930 (Pop. 938) and 1950 (Population, 1,206), at a rate of about 22 percent. Unlike some other Mississippi towns, Hernando weathered the Great Depression between 1930 and 1940 and then came through the World War II era still growing. Several buildings from this era are included in this district (2355 and 2378 East Street; 2435 Northview Street; 131 West Valley Street), all of them in the popular Tudor Revival style.
________, "DeSoto History," Commercial Appeal Special Supplement. Memphis: Commercial Appeal, September 8, 1996.
Bell, J.B., DeSoto County and Hernando historian. Interviewed by Joan Embree, preservation consultant, at his home on West Commerce Street in Hernando, Nov. 20, 1998.
Bell, J.B., Hernando Historic Windows. Hernando, MS: J.B. Bell, 1986
Bouchillion, A.W., Hernando's first Planning Director (1958). Interviewed by Joan Embree, preservation consultant, on driving tour of Hernando, Nov. 20, 1998.
Cawthon, Richard. "Railroads In Mississippi." Unpublished information compiled for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, MS, 1995
DeSoto County, MS. "Agriculture," "Education," "Homes," "Industry," and "Transportation" chapters, WPA Records, Special Collections, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.
DeSoto County, MS. Probate Court Records. DeSoto County Courthouse, Hernando, MS.
DeSoto County, MS. Bound Newspaper Collection, Probate Records. DeSoto County Courthouse, Hernando, MS.
DeSoto County First Regional Library. Vertical files on Hernando's "Buildings," "History," "Homes." Hernando, MS.
Hernando. City Minute Books for 1870, 1907, 1928, 1938. Hernando City Hall, DeSoto County, MS.
Ivy, Pam McPhail, Ed. Our Heritage. DeSoto County. MS. Memphis, TN: North Mississippi Times/Frank Meyers & Associates, N.D.
Lowry, Robert and William H. McCardle. A History of Mississippi. Spartanburg, South Carolina: The Reprint Company, 1978.
Mississippi Department of Archives & History. Cooper Post Card Collection, "Hernando," in the State Archives. Jackson, MS.
Mississippi Department of Archives & History. DeSoto County Maps, photographs in the State Archives. Jackson, MS.
Mississippi Department of Archives & History. National Register File. DeSoto County. Hernando Courthouse Square District.
Reps, John. Making of Urban America. Princeton,N.J.: Princeton University Press. 1965.
Rowland, Dunbar, LLD. A History of Mississippi. Vols. I, II, & HI. Atlanta: Southern Historical Publishing Association, 1907.
Sanborn Map Company. Insurance Maps of the City of Hernando: 1886,1892, 1903, 1909, 1916, 1925, 1936. New York, NY: Sanborn Map Company. Special Collections, Mitchell Memorial Library, Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS.
United States. Bureau of the Census. Population Schedules, DeSoto County, MS, 1870, 1910, 1940, 1950.
† Samuel H. Kaye, AIA, Luke & Kaye, PA, Hernando North Side Historic District, DeSoto County, Mississippi, nomination document, 2000, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.