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Bellevue


Bellevue 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.

Description

"Bellevue" (also known as The Longfellow House) is a Greek Revival style one-and-a-half-story wood-frame "raised cottage" above a full-story raised basement of brick construction. Across the front of the main story is a full-width front gallery supported by large square columns, surmounted by a full entablature. The central bay of the colonnade steps slightly forward to form a projecting frontispiece. Within this projecting central bay are two round fluted Corinthian columns set "in antis" between the flanking piers. A cast iron balustrade surrounds the gallery.

Above the raised basement, the exterior walls are clad in wood clapboard on the sides and rear. The front facade is clad in wood siding that has been shaped to emulate rusticated stone. The house is symmetrically massed with a side-facing gable roof, three front dormers, three rear dormers and two sets of chimneys. Currently the roof is synthetic slate with original slate on the sides of all six dormers. The front stairs originally were wood and had the same rectilinear configuration as exists today. During the 1940s symmetrical curved stairs with metal railings replaced the original stairs. These stairs were removed during the last restoration and replaced with wood stairs very similar in design to the original.

The front entrance is recessed from the gallery. It has sidelights and a transom and is flanked by two six-over-twelve double-hung windows on each side. The floor-length windows that face the gallery open to the full height of the lower sash, allowing a person to walk through to the gallery. Full-height wood shutters that are fully operational with original hardware flank all the windows.

The lower story is a raised basement consisting of masonry walls with a stucco finish. Originally used as a storage and service area, it currently contains staff offices and a commercial kitchen.

Above the raised basement is the main floor of the house. It consists of a center hall flanked by two double parlors, each with a fireplace and a pair of paneled pocket doors between each set of parlors.

The attic story consists of three bedrooms, each with a dormer window, accessed from a central foyer. A sitting room is positioned at the rear of the west bedroom. A spiral wood stair with wood railings connects the floors at the northwest corner. Modern restrooms, closets and a service elevator have been added.

The grounds are landscaped with plants and flowers characteristic of the Gulf Coast including large live oaks draped in Spanish moss. The house faces southward toward the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. There are no surviving outbuildings.

From the 1940s through the 1970s Bellevue was part of a small resort hotel, and it had numerous additions and alterations during that period. A careful four-year restoration in the mid-1990s stripped away these non-historic accretions and returned the house to its nineteenth century character.

Significance

"Bellevue" is significant for architecture as a locally important example of Greek Revival residential architecture. Built by local carpenters and craftsmen about 1850, it is one of the most prominent surviving Greek Revival houses of the antebellum period on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the most significant Greek Revival building in Jackson County.

The house is significant as an example of a traditional form called a "raised cottage" that was widely adopted for substantial houses in coastal areas of the Deep South during the antebellum period. This form is characterized by a lower story of brick construction, above which is an upper story of wood frame construction containing the main living area of the house. These "raised cottages" characteristically had wide central hallways with one or two large square rooms on either side. At the rear was typically an open loggia flanked by small "cabinet" rooms. In many examples, such as this house, there is an additional half story of finished rooms within the attic area. Many of the larger and finer "raised cottages" built during the period from 1840 to 1860 exhibited stylistic features of the Greek Revival. "Bellevue" exhibits all of the characteristic features of the Greek Revival raised cottage, traits it shares with such other notable Gulf Coast houses as "Beauvoir" (National Register, 1971, National Historic Landmark, 1973) and the Hermann House (National Register, 1984) in Biloxi.

The house was built for Captain Daniel Smith Graham of New Orleans. It had a series of later owners before being acquired by Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Pollock in 1902. It was during their ownership that the house was given the name "Bellevue." The Pollocks' heirs sold the house in 1938 to Mayor Frank S. Canty. In 1940 or 1941 it was purchased by Robert I. Ingalls, owner of the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company, for use as a resort and guest house for important guests of the company.

Under the ownership of Ingalls, the house became known as "The Longfellow House," the name by which it is now commonly known locally. The name "The Longfellow House" came from a supposed association with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but that name arose from literary fancy rather than any real connection with the poet. One of Longfellow's poems, "The Building of the Ship" includes a mention of "Pascagoula's sunny bay." According to local folklore, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was said to have visited Pascagoula and stayed at the house. There is, however, no evidence that Longfellow ever came to Mississippi, much less to Pascagoula, but the folktale persists.

During the years when the house was used as a resort and guest house, a resort hotel complex was constructed around it, and numerous alterations were made to the house itself. After the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company was purchased by Litton Industries in 1961, Bellevue continued to be operated by the company as a resort hotel until about 1969, when it was sold to the first of a series of private owners who operated the house and surrounding complex as a hotel, but the property gradually declined and its owners suffered financial difficulties. By 1987 it was vacant and deteriorating. In 1991, it was acquired by a developer who demolished the surrounding hotel structures and sold off parts of the land for a residential subdivision, reducing the property from 20.66 acres to 2.08 acres. The house itself was threatened with demolition.

Mr. & Mrs. Richard Scruggs purchased the house in 1993 and undertook a four-year restoration of the house and grounds, under the direction of Koch & Wilson Architects of New Orleans. In December 1999 the Scruggs family donated Bellevue (the Longfellow House) to the University of Mississippi Foundation. Under the Foundation's ownership the Longfellow House is used today for receptions, parties and charitable events.

References

"The Coast of Mississippi, It's Past & Progress," produced by Hancock Bank, n.d.

"History of the Longfellow House," Mississippi Riviera. June 18, 1964.

Jackson County Courthouse Records and Tax Records.

"Longfellow House, Pascagoula, Mississippi" printed by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Corporation, n.d.

Nelson, Karen, "Building on History," Sun Herald. March, 1992.

Nelson, Karen, "Attorney to Buy Longfellow House," Sun Herald. January 13, 1993.

Sonia M. Cowart, Architect, Cowart Architects, PC, Bellevue, Pascagoula, Jackson County, Mississippi, nominationd document, 2002, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Bellevue Map

Street Names
Beach Boulevard

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