Eudora Welty House
The Eudora Welty House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. 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 Eudora Welty House is a two-story Tudor Revival style residence, built in 1924-25. It is built of wood-frame construction clad in brick veneer on the lower story and stucco and false half-timbering on the upper story. The house was designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick, of the firm of Sanguinet, Staats, and Hedrick of Fort Worth, Texas.
Situated on a tree-shaded lot at 1119 Pinehurst Street in the Belhaven neighborhood of Jackson, the Eudora Welty House faces northward, toward the campus of Belhaven College, located across the street. The house sits back from the street about 80 feet, on terrain that rises slightly to the house, then drops off behind it. The lot is 140 feet wide, extending further to the east of the house than to the west. On the west side of the house, a gravel driveway leads southward from the street to a small, gable-roofed garage, located just beyond the southwestern rear corner of the house. The garage, which is contemporary with the house, is finished in stucco and false half-timbering to match the house. To the east of the house is a side-yard with lush border plantings. Due to an off-set in the property lines, the back yard is only half the width of the front yard, 70 feet in width for most of its depth but stepping back to 50 feet in width at the rear. The back yard consists of a small lawn surrounded by extensive garden plantings. The garden was planned and developed by Eudora's mother, Chestina Welty, who was an avid horticulturist. It has been carefully documented and is being restored to its appearance during the period 1925-1945.
The front (north) facade of the house is roughly symmetrical in its composition, though the symmetry is broken by an off-center front-facing gable on the eastern half. The eastern roofline of this gable extends down to the first story, where it forms the roof of the side porch. The roof is supported over the side porch by brick piers linked by shallow segmental brick arches. The first story of the house is clad in brick of a variegated dark brown, laid in running bond with a rosy brown mortar. The front entrance is a centrally placed Tudor-arched doorway, set into a slightly projecting gable-roofed vestibule, in the main wall on both sides of the projecting vestibule, on both stories, are triple sets of six-over-six, double-hung, wooden-sash windows. The upper-story windows are aligned directly over the windows on the lower story. Above the peak of the vestibule roof is a small rectangular window. The eaves of the roof are open, with exposed rafter-tails. The three main gable ends (on the front-facing main gable, the corresponding main gable at the rear, and the side gable at the western end) are "clipped" in a "jerkinhead" configuration. There are chimneys on both sides of the house. The chimney on the west end projects visibly from the wall plane and rises alongside the "clipped" gable end. The chimney on the eastern side is contained within the side porch and the low, overhanging porch roof, emerging towards the center of the roof plane.
The complexity of roof lines makes the overall massing of the Eudora Welty House seem more complex than it appears in plan. The plan of the first story is essentially a square, from which a side porch projects on the east and the kitchen projects on the south. The central entrance at the front of the house opens to a small foyer or vestibule, with adjacent coat closet. Beyond the foyer is a stair hall that occupies the center of the house, containing a staircase that ascends southward to the upper story. At the back of the stair hall is a cross hall that affords access to the breakfast room, the downstairs bathroom, and the small downstairs bedroom (11'11" by 11'9") that occupies the southwestern corner of the house.
Opening off the stair hall to the west is the front parlor (16' by 17'), which in Eudora Welty's later years served as a study. It features a triple set of windows on the north wall, overlooking the front yard, and, on the west, a fireplace with a simple Craftsman Style brick facing and a wooden mantel shelf, flanked by two six-over-six windows overlooking the driveway. On the south side of this room are a closet and a door into the downstairs bathroom.
On the eastern side of the stair hall is a set of French doors opening into the living room (21'9" by 14'10"). The dominant feature of this room, at the center of the east wall on axis with the door from the stair hall, is a Craftsman Style fireplace with a patterned brick facing and a wooden mantel shelf. On either side of the fireplace is a set of French doors opening to the side porch. At the north end of the living room, a triple set of windows overlooks the front yard. At the south end of the room is a broad opening (formerly hung with French doors) connecting to the dining room. The dining room is square in plan (14'9" by 14'10"), and features a triple set of double-hung windows overlooking the eastern side yard. A door on the west side of the dining room leads to the breakfast room, in the center of the rear of the house. This room was originally square, but it became L-shaped when a closet was added to the southwest room, located just to the west. The dominant feature of the breakfast room is a fine Arts and Crafts style built-in china cabinet. Beyond the breakfast room to the south, and occupying part of the rear wing of the house, is the kitchen. Featuring its original built-in cabinet and original sink, the kitchen has changed little since 1925. East of the kitchen and occupying the eastern corner of the rear wing is a small utility room that also contains a stair leading to the partial basement.
The upper story of the house contains two bedrooms, one on either side of the upper stair hall, with a bathroom between them, and a smaller room opening off the west bedroom.
To the west of the upper stair hall is the smaller of the two upstairs bedrooms. This almost square room (17'6" by 15'4") has a triple set of windows on the north and two single windows on the west. A door in the northeast corner opens to a small closet, and a door at the east end of the south wall leads to the upstairs back room. This room has a triple set of windows looking south over the back garden and pair of windows on the west.
To the east of the stair hall is the larger upstairs bedroom (22' by 15'7"). This was Eudora Welty's room for most of her lifetime, and it served as her writing room as well as her bedroom. Her writing desk was placed at the north end of the room, in front of the triple windows that looked across the front yard. Her bed was at the south end, where another set of triple windows overlooks the garden. At the center of the east wall is a fireplace faced with blonde bricks. To the north of the fireplace is a door leading to a large closet, and to the south of the fireplace a door leads to an attic storage room. Both the closet and the attic room are tucked under the slope of the roof over the side porch.
Between the two bedrooms, at the north end of the upper stair hall, is the upstairs bathroom, which retains all its original surfaces and fixtures, including white rectangular tile wainscoting on the wall and hexagonal tile floor.
Overall, the Eudora Welty House retains an exceptionally high degree of integrity for its entire historic period. Very few changes were ever made to the house, and those few changes were made by Miss Welty and reflect her long period of residence.
In 1986, Miss Welty deeded the house, subject to a life estate, to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to ensure its preservation. Plans are currently  underway to make necessary physical repairs so that the house can serve as a literary house museum to interpret the life and work of Eudora Welty.
The Eudora Welty House is of exceptional national significance in the area of Literature. It was the home of internationally acclaimed author Eudora Welty, from 1925 until her death in 2001, and all of her notable works were written there. The property consists of the house itself, built in 1925, a garage that is contemporary with the house, and the surrounding grounds and garden. This well-documented garden was created by Eudora's mother, Chestina Welty, who was a highly respected amateur horticulturist.
Eudora Welty's Life and Literary Significance
Eudora Welty was one of the most respected American writers of the second half of the twentieth century. During her illustrious career, she received numerous prestigious national and international honors, including a National Book Award, the French Legion of Honor, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the William Dean Howells Gold Medal for Fiction, the National Medal of Freedom, the National Medal of Arts, a Pulitzer Prize, and membership in the National Institute and American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1998 Eudora Welty became the only living author published by the Library of America, a nonprofit publisher "dedicated to preserving America's best and most significant writing." Other writers published in the Library of America Series include Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Henry James, and William Faulkner.
Eudora Welty was born on April 13, 1909, the daughter of Christian Webb Welty and his wife Chestina Andrews Welty. Christian W. Welty was a long-time officer of the Lamar Life Insurance Company, eventually holding the office of president of the company from January 1931 until his death in September 1931. At the time of Eudora Welty's birth, the family was residing at a house at 741 North Congress Street in Jackson. In 1925, when Eudora was a teenager, the family moved into the house at 1119 Pinehurst Street which would be her home for the rest of her long and productive life.
After Eudora graduated from Jackson's Central High School in 1925, she attended Mississippi State College for Women, in Columbus, Mississippi, and then the University of Wisconsin, where she received her bachelor's degree. She then pursued graduate studies at the Columbia University School of Business in New York City. After residing in New York for a brief period, she returned to Jackson in 1931 upon the death of her father. Jackson remained her home thereafter.
Her distinguished literary career began in 1936 when two of her stories were accepted by a magazine called Manuscript, whose editor, John Rood, recognized what editors of major periodicals would soon learn — that Eudora Welty possessed a tremendous talent. "'Death of a Traveling Salesman,'" Rood wrote, "is one of the best stories that has come to our attention — and one of the best stories we have ever read."
Other great pieces of fiction would follow in the years between 1936 and 1941. During those years, Welty wrote and had published a variety of diverse and engaging stories. The humor, at tunes dark in implication, of southern small town life with its post offices, beauty parlors, and traveling shows; the despair of Depression-era tenant farmers in Mississippi and of an unemployed Mississippian in New York; the love of his art and the sense of alienation experienced by a black jazz musician; the grief felt by a young wife who has seen her husband killed — such are the subjects of the stories collected in Welty's first book, A Curtain of Green. Her keen powers of observation, her ability to capture the authentic sounds of dialogue and dialect, her precise turn of phrase, her absolute freedom from any form of sentimentality, her sure comic sense and equally sure tragic awareness all were part of that book's triumph.
More triumphs lay ahead. In 1942 Welty's The Robber Bridegroom was published. This novella was daring and innovative. She combined childhood memories of a Grimm's fairy tale and her reading of Robert Coates' The Outlaw Years to create her own vision of the nineteenth-century Natchez Trace. In this novella, she explored tall tales of the old Southwest, the nature of love and betrayal, the passing of the frontier, and the destruction of Native American political autonomy, even as she called into question the fairy tale's reassuring "and they all lived happily ever after." A year later Welty's Natchez Trace stories were published in The Wide Net. Stories drawn from history and from contemporary Mississippi life, stories of mystical moments of union with nature and of human brutality, stories of isolation and of renewal, all found their way into this volume. Its focus upon mystery, upon the unknown and unknowable, originally puzzled some critics but it has come to win high regard by literary critics.
In 1943, Eudora Welty began working on a short story called "The Delta Cousins." Her agent, however, saw this story as a chapter in a novel, and Welty realized he was correct. The novel that ensued was Delta Wedding, and again Welty's work broke from established fictional patterns. Refusing to follow the conventional love story format, she scarcely described a courtship or wedding, but instead focused upon the family members and servants in orbit around the bride and groom. A mother concerned for her daughter's happiness, a young orphaned cousin longing to feel part of the family, an uncle and aunt whose marital difficulties seem portentous, an array of black servants and field hands whom the plantation family sees only in relation to itself — all are stars in Delta Wedding's large constellation of characters. Nevertheless, the novel is not diffuse, but instead is as tightly structured as a poem.
Soon after completing Delta Wedding, Welty returned to story writing, working at home and in San Francisco, where she would spend several months in 1946 and 1947. She wrote about a marriage on the rocks, about a piano recital in a small town on the edge of the Delta, about a San Francisco encounter between an ineffectual man and a Spanish guitarist. She wrote about the complex emotional lives of ordinary people. And then she made an amazing discovery — although names would have to be changed and made consistent, she had been writing about a common set of characters in each of these stories, depicting them over the course of many years, sometimes making one character a protagonist, sometimes letting that character recede into a story's background. Was this another novel in the making? Welty decided not. She cherished the sort of development that related stories made possible, but resisted the novel's need for a unifying plot. She wanted the openness, the lack of resolution that typifies human experience. The result was The Golden Apples — regarded by many as Eudora Welty's most profound achievement in fiction.
After The Golden Apples was published in 1949, Welty left for a year in Europe, a year financed by a Guggenheim Fellowship. This year abroad led to still another sort of fiction. Inspired by her travels, she revised "Circe," a story about Odysseus told by the sorceress Circe; then she wrote "The Bride of the Innisfallen." Later, drawing upon her own voyage to Italy, she wrote "Going to Naples." To these stories were added a tale of two strangers on a car trip south to Venice, Louisiana, and others about rural or small town Mississippi, past and present. By 1955 two books had emerged — The Ponder Heart and The Bride of the Innisfallen and other Stories. One would be transformed into a successful Broadway play and the other would expand the already wide range of subject and technique that typified Welty's fiction.
From 1955 until 1970, Eudora Welty published no books of fiction. Her brothers both suffered from a crippling form of arthritis, complications of which would eventually claim both of their lives, and her mother underwent eye operations and had several strokes. Eudora devoted herself to the care of those she loved and to speaking engagements that helped her to support herself and her mother. In 1959 her brother Walter died, and in 1966 her mother and her brother Edward died within days of each other. During the long period of family crisis, Welty managed to complete and publish two short stories dealing sensitively and insightfully with the Civil Rights Movement. She also worked on a novel, writing individual scenes and saving those scenes for later compilation. After the death of her mother, she might have been expected to begin pulling those fragments together, but instead she wrote a new and powerful story of a young woman who must face the imminent death of her father and finally come to terms with the loss of her mother many years earlier. The plot diverged from the facts of Eudora Welty's life, but it was her most personal work of fiction as it dealt with the continuity of love in the face of loss. Published in 1969 in the New Yorker, then revised and expanded for its 1972 publication as a book, The Optimist's Daughter won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. In the interim between the magazine version and the book version of The Optimist's Daughter, Welty strove to convert the scenes she had been saving since 1955 into a unified whole. The result was Losing Battles — a hilarious account of a 1930s family reunion in north Mississippi, celebrating the strength provided by a close-knit family even as it acknowledged the difficulties inherent in committed relationships. This novel, Reynolds Price asserts, is "a frightening gift — because it hands us after so long a wait, an offering of such plenitude and serene mastery as to reveal with panicking suddenness how thin a diet we survive on... Reading it, one is reminded that liberated prisoners of war in 1945 often succumbed to shock on receiving full rations."
Losing Battles was the last piece of fiction by Eudora Welty to be published, but another major achievement would grace her long and distinguished writing career. In 1983 she delivered a series of lectures at Harvard University, and in 1984 Harvard University Press published those lectures under the title One Writer's Beginnings. This slim volume manages to convey the spirit of an era and to suggest much about the origins of creativity. It became the first best seller in the history of Harvard University Press.
Eudora Welty was an accomplished photographer as well as a writer. Her photographs of Mississippi were first exhibited at New York City's Lugene Galleries in 1936. The first book of her photographs, One Time, One Place, was published in 1971, and more photographs have subsequently been published in Photographs (1989) and Country Churchyards (2000). Her photography has earned wide acclaim. In 1990 Museum of Modern Art director John Szarkowski said Welty's photographs "show us only the rarest and most evanescent truths." Over several decades, Welty donated approximately 1100 photographic prints and negatives, as well as her literary papers and correspondence, to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Significance of the house at 1119 Pinehurst Street
During Eudora's childhood years, her family resided in a two-story wood-frame house at 741 North Congress Street. This older Welty House was placed on the National Register in 1980, but it was removed from the Register in 1986 following inappropriate alterations that substantially diminished its historic character.
In 1925, Christian W. Welty, his wife Chestina, and their three children (Eudora and her brothers Walter and Edward) moved to a new home at 1119 Pinehurst Street in the prestigious Belhaven neighborhood, across the street from the campus of Belhaven College. This fine Tudor Revival style house was designed for the Welty family by Wyatt C. Hedrick, of the firm of Sanguinet, Staats, and Hedrick of Fort Worth, Texas, the firm that had designed the Lamar Life Building, then under construction for the Lamar Life Insurance Company, of which Christian Welty was a senior officer. Noted Jackson architect Noah Webster Overstreet, who was one of Mississippi's most prominent and prolific architects from the 1910s through the 1950s, was also involved with the construction of the house. Overstreet was associate architect for the Lamar Life Building, presumably supervising the construction locally for the Fort Worth firm, and he may well have had a similar role in the construction of the Eudora Welty House, although this is not clearly documented.
Except for a few brief sojourns, the house at 1119 Pinehurst Street was Eudora Welty's home for seventy-six years, from 1925 until her death on July 23,2001, at the age of 92. It was here that all of her major literary works were written.
In 1986, Eudora Welty deeded the house, subject to a life estate, to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to ensure its preservation. The Department is currently  working to develop the house into a literary house museum that will interpret her life and work.
The grounds surrounding the house are an important part of its identity as Eudora Welty's home. The most notable feature of the grounds is the garden that occupies much of the back and side yards. Eudora was a passionate gardener, as was her mother Chestina, who was a well-respected amateur horticulturist and a founding member of the Jackson Garden Club in 1931. The garden is well documented, and is currently  being restored to its appearance in the 1940s, when the garden was in its prime.
Selected Works by Eudora Welty.
The Bride of the Innisfallen and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1955.
A Curtain of Green. New York: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1941.
"The Demonstrators." In The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, 608-22. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980.
Delta Wedding. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1946.
The Eye of the Story, 169-76. New York: Random House, 1979.
The Golden Apples. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949.
Losing Battles. New York: Random House, 1970.
One Time, One Place. New York: Random House, 1971.
One Writer's Beginnings. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984.
The Optimist's Daughter. New York: Random House, 1972.
Photographs. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 1989.
The Ponder Heart. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954.
The Robber Bridegroom. New York: Doubleday, Doran, and Company, 1942.
"Where is the Voice Coming From?" In The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty, 603-07. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980.
The Wide Net and Other Stories. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1943.
A Writer's Eye: Collected Book Reviews. Ed. Pearl Amelia McHaney. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994.
Selected Works about Eudora Welty
Appel, Alfred. A Seasons of Dreams: The Fiction of Eudora Welty. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965.
Black, Patti Carr, ed. Eudora. Jackson, Mississippi: Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 1984.
Devlin, Albert J. Eudora Welty's Chronicle: A Story of Mississippi Life. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 1983.
________, ed. Welty, A Life in Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1987.
Mark, Rebecca. The Dragon's Blood: Feminist Intertextuality in Eudora Welty's The Golden Apples. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 1994.
Marrs, Suzanne. The Welty Collection: A Guide to the Eudora Welty Manuscripts and Documents at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 1988.
Mortimer, Gail L. Daughter of the Swan: Love and Knowledge in Eudora Welty's Fiction. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.
Pollack, Harriet, and Marrs, Suzanne. Eudora Welty and Politics: Did the Writer Crusade. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001.
Prenshaw, Peggy W. Conversations with Eudora Welty. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1984.
________. More Conversations with Eudora Welty. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996.
Price, Reynolds. "Frightening Gift." A Common Room: Essays 1954-1987. New York: Atheneum, 1987.
Schmidt, Peter. The Heart of the Story. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1991.
Vande Kieft, Ruth. Eudora Welty. Rev. Ed. New York: Twayne, 1987.
Westling, Louise. Sacred Groves and Ravaged Gardens, The Fiction of Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, and Flannery O'Connor. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985.
Weston, Ruth D. Gothic Traditions and Narrative Techniques in the Fiction of Eudora Welty. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1994.
References relating specifically to the house and garden
Adams, Robert Parker. Historic Structure Report: The Eudora Welty House, 1119 Pinehurst St., Jackson Mississippi. Unpublished report prepared for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, March 2002.
Haltom, Susan. "In Welly's Garden" Eudora Welty Newsletter, XXV:1 (Winter 2001).
Whiteside, Katherine. "Eudora — The Famous Author's Small Garden in Jackson, Mississippi Still Inspires Her Today" Elle Decor, October-November 1997.
& dagger; Richard J. Cawthon, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Welty, Eudora, House, Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi, nomination document, 2002, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.