The Robertson-Yates House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
The Robertson-Yates House, constructed circa 1849-50, is one of the very few extant antebellum homes in DeSoto County. It is located about four miles south-southwest of Hernando at 5000 Robertson Gin Road. Robertson Gin Road follows the approximate alignment of the old DeSoto-Panola Plank Road. Remnants of the old plank road are evident on the site. The home is situated on a ten-acre site that was once a part of the Robertson Plantation. The immediate setting of the house is a grassy lawn shaded by large deciduous trees, primarily oaks, located on the east side of the road. The house faces westward toward the road.
The Robertson-Yates House is a two-story, side-gabled dwelling of wood-frame construction, with a one-story rear wing. It has Greek Revival features from its original period of construction along with some Queen Anne style features dating from a remodeling about 1897. The roof is gabled to the north and south and is pierced by two chimneys at the north end. The exterior walls of the house are clad in weatherboards. A shed-roofed one-story porch, dating from about 1897, extends across the front facade and partially wraps both north and south sides. The porch is supported by pairs of lathe-turned posts, and it is ornamented by a spindle-work frieze and a simple wood balustrade. The porch ceiling is finished in beaded board. The part of the porch that wraps around the south wall of the house is screened. The original porch configuration is not known.
The front facade of the Robertson-Yates House has three bays. Each bay of the upper story contains a six-over-six double-hung window covered by louvered shutters. On the lower story, each of the two northern bays contains a floor-length, six-over-nine double-hung window with louvered shutters. The southern bay contains the entrance, consisting of a single-leaf door framed by triple-light sidelights and surmounted by a single-pane transom. The corners of the facade are ornamented with paneled pilasters which support an entablature of unusual form: it has a complete cornice and denticulated frieze, but the architrave has been omitted except for two curving sections atop each pilaster. The entire entablature, including the partial architrave, wraps around the corners to extend a short distance on the north and south walls.
The north wall of the Robertson-Yates House has four windows on each story. On the lower story are three six-over-nine windows, with louvered shutters, within the area enclosed by the porch, and a six-over-six window to the east beyond the porch, with three six-over-six windows on the one-story rear wing. On the upper story of the north wall are four six-over-six double-hung windows with shutters. In the gable are two smaller six-over-six windows with shutters. The gable is trimmed with a raking cornice with a wide, simple frieze. At either side are the partial entablature sections that have wrapped the corners from the front and rear walls.
The south wall is somewhat similar in composition to the north wall, but it has fewer windows — only two on each story and two in the gable.
The rear (east) wall of the house has an entablature matching that on the front wall, and has two six-over-six double-hung windows on the second story, above the irregularly-shaped one-story rear wing.
The interior of the Robertson-Yates House has a double-pile, side-hall plan. There is a family tradition that the house originally had a symmetrical, center hall plan, but was altered in 1897 when the southernmost two bays of the house were removed to be used as part of another house. Whether this was the case is unclear from examination of the visible features of the house, but if the house were shortened by the removal of the southernmost end, the subsequent remodeling was so skillful as to convey the impression that the house has always had a sidehall plan, as is evident by the placement of the pilasters and the configuration of the entablature on the exterior. In any case, the house as currently configured has a side-hall plan.
The front door opens into a stair hall that extends the full depth of the south side of the house. Within this hall is a straight-run staircase with newel-post and balusters of mid-nineteenth century design. On the north side of the hall are doors opening into the two main first-story rooms. The ceiling height is 12 feet. The floor is made of six-inch wide yellow poplar boards.
Immediately to the left of the stair hall, upon entry, is the front parlor. It features a round-arched Italianate marble mantel on its north wall. On the east side of the front parlor is a wide set of sliding doors that open to the second parlor, which contains a simple pilastered Greek Revival mantel, above which is an ornate Late Victorian mirrored overmantel.
At the east side of the second parlor is a door opening to the dining room, beyond which is the kitchen. These two rooms are located in the rear wing, which was probably added to the house during the circa 1897 remodeling.
The second story contains two bedrooms opening off of the upper stair hall. Each bedroom has a fireplace with a wooden mantel.
The Robertson-Yates House retains a surprisingly high degree of integrity from the 1850s, despite alterations about 1897, and very high degree of integrity from the 1897 period. Regardless of whether or not the house was reconfigured by the removal of rooms on the south end about 1897, it survives today as a very rare surviving antebellum building in DeSoto County.
The Robertson-Yates House is locally significant in the area of architecture as a rare surviving example of antebellum architecture in DeSoto County. As it stands today it is an unusual example in Mississippi of a double-pile, side-hall plan house in a rural setting. The Robertson-Yates House is also a good example of the application of Queen Anne style features to an earlier house in the 1890s. It therefore has two periods of significance — the period of its original construction, around 1850, and the period of its remodeling, about 1897.
Family history places the construction of the house about 1849-50 for the original owner John Robertson (1823-1879) and his wife Susan. The house was built on a plantation which had been established by John Robertson along the DeSoto-Panola Plank Road. Remnants of the old road alignment are visible on the site.
John and Susan Robertson had a daughter, Annie Eliza Robertson, who was born in 1850. In 1867, she married George Yates, and they later became the owners of her parents' house. The house remained in the Yates family for many years.
There is an oral tradition in the Yates family that the house originally had a symmetrical, center hall plan, but was altered about 1897 when the southernmost two bays of the house were removed to be used as part of another house erected nearby as a wedding gift for John Robertson's grandson, Robertson Yates, son of George Yates and Annie Eliza Robertson Yates. That house reportedly burned shortly after its completion. Whether the original house was actually changed in this manner is unclear from examination of the visible features of the house, but if the house were shortened by the removal of the southernmost end, the subsequent remodeling was so skillful as to convey the impression that the house has always had a side-hall plan, as is evident by the placement of the pilasters and the configuration of the entablature on the exterior. It is evident, however, that the house was remodeled about this time, for the front porch, the door at the back of the stair hall, and some other features clearly date from this later period.
Although the Robertson-Yates House may have been changed from its original form by the removal of rooms on the southern side about 1897, the house (or the remainder of the house) retains a surprisingly high degree of integrity from the 1850s, and in its present form the house retains a very high degree of integrity from the 1897 period. Regardless of the extent of its late Victorian alterations, it survives today as a very rare surviving antebellum building in DeSoto County.
DeSoto County, Mississippi. Chancery Clerk. Deed Book 49, Page 88., DeSoto County Court House, Hernando, Mississippi.
"Yates Recalls History," North Mississippi Times, March 29,1979.
† Robert L. Barber, Sr., AICP, Robert L. Barber and Associates and Richard J. Cawthon, Chief Architectural Historian, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Robertson-Yates House, DeSoto County, Mississippi, nomination document, 2001, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.