Lovers Lane Historic District
The Lover's Lane Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
Lover's Lane Historic District occupies the western shore of a small peninsula which separates the Back Bay of Biloxi from the mouth of the Old Fort Bayou. This stream undulates along the northern limits of the historically significant sections of Ocean Springs. As the name, "Old Fort Bayou," suggests, the peninsula was the site of Fort Maurepas, the original French settlement in the colony of Louisiana founded by General Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville on April 8, 1699. The terrain of the peninsula consists of a slightly rolling low bluff which descends abruptly to a narrow strip of shoreline marshes on the west. Lover's Lane, a narrow asphalt roadway flanked by thick foliage, bisects the peninsula or "point" as it is called by natives of the town. The lane establishes the eastern boundary of the Lover's Lane Historic District.
Of the Lover's Lane Historic District buildings, all are residential. Three are pivotal; six are contributing and three are non-contributing. The buildings maintain a nearly consistent recession from the shore. They stand upon large, heavily landscaped lots through which meander narrow crushed-oyster shell drives and paths. The dense, informal landscaping along Lover's Lane gives way to more precisely organized designs near the dwellings. Smooth lawns punctuated by flower plots and shaded by magnolias and live oaks surround the houses and stretch westward to the edge of the bluff.
The Lover's Lane Historic District is architecturally significant as a cohesive neighborhood of vacation estates which reflect the continued development and popularity of Ocean Springs as a resort community on a grander scale than is encountered elsewhere in the city.
The series of bay-front knolls on which the Lover's Lane Historic District is situated was the site of Fort Maurepas, the first French settlement along the Gulf Coast established by d'Iberville in 1699. The private owners of the actual site of the fort have denied permission for an archaeological excavation. An unofficial dig led by Sam McGahey, chief archaeologist at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, on the grounds of Conamore uncovered evidence of seventeenth century European settlement. These discoveries have been reinforced by the presence of a silt-entombed seventeenth century ship adjacent to the Taquino property. While the seventeenth century archaeological importance of the area must not be overlooked, the Lover's Lane Historic District is most obviously significant for its collection of summer estates dating from the 1870s through the 1920s. The largest and most lavish of these, the Benjamin Estate, which included a miniature railroad among its amenities, is no longer extant. The surviving properties, if less opulent, still reflect a more expansive mode of living than pursued in other sections of Ocean Springs.
The most easily recognized architectural styles represented in the Lover's Lane Historic District include the Greek Revival "Bay Home" (309 Lovers Lane; Poitevent House), the Queen Anne "Conamore" and its guest house (317-319 Lovers Lane), and the Spanish Colonial Revival Guice House (318 Lovers Lane). These all exhibit adaptations of their styles to meet the climatic challenges of the Gulf Coast. These include the eaves cove of Bay Home, the wide eaves and porches of Conamore and the thick walls, arcades, and balconies of the Guice House. The less easily labeled Palfrey House (1025 Lovers Lane) and Old Lindsey Home (305 Lovers Lane) incorporate full-width porches in their plans.
The integrity of the contributing properties is strengthened by the survival of the oyster-shell paths and generous scale of their landscape designs.
The dense foliage of the Lover's Lane Historic District shields the two non-contributing properties from view as does the heavy vegetation screen the recently constructed homes on the east side of Lover's Lane. These incompatible buildings do not, therefore, detract from the visual integrity of the Lover's Lane Historic District as a whole.
Dabney, Thomas E. Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Pascagoula: Lewis Printing Services, 1974, (Reprint of Ocean Springs, the Land Where Dreams Come True, The News, ca. 1915).
† Brian N. Berggren, Architectural Historian, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Lover's Lane Historic District, Ocean Springs, Jackson County, MS, nomination document, 1986, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.