Southtown Historic District
The Southtown Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. 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 Southtown Historic District is an eclectic blend of a small county seat's representative architecture. The Southtown Historic District contains the city's major Queen Anne mansions; an assortment of smaller, embellished Queen Anne inspired residences; a group of substantial, square, late-nineteenth-century houses; the red brick, one-story buildings of Magnolia's city government; the two-story Pike County Courthouse; and one antebellum Greek Revival cottage.
The Southtown Historic District's boundaries are roughly the I.C.R.R. tracks to the east; Minnehaha Creek to the south; Prewitt Street to the west, and Bay Street to the north. Boundaries were drawn around a cohesive historic core, omitting as much recent residential and commercial development as possible. For this reason, Magnolia Hall, 223/225 Bay Street and 235 Bay Street, north of Bay Street, were included in the district because of their historic and architectural relation to the Pike County Courthouse.
The five pivotal buildings are outstanding both within Mississippi's architectural context and within Magnolia's local references. The eighteen contributing structures, most of which are residential buildings constructed around the turn-of-the-century, define the harmonious sense of place of the Southtown Historic District. The eleven marginal buildings include one architecturally important building which has been altered only by the addition of artificial siding, and one primarily historic building which has been significantly altered visually. Other marginal buildings have bungaloid influences and were constructed after the Southtown Historic District's primary period of significance. The one non-contributing building has no architectural, historic, or design link with the historic nature of the district.
Streets in the Southtown Historic District are broad and sloping and shaded by a proliferation of trees. Throughout the district, as throughout the city, meticulous care is taken in the cultivation of bushes, shrubs, and flowering plants, creating very attractive streetscapes.
Within the Historic Resources of Magnolia, the Southtown Historic District is significant as the largest concentration of a variety of late-nineteenth century residential architecture. The focus of the Southtown Historic District is upon the Lenoir House (290 East Laurel Street), the Coney House (204 South Clark Street), and Hedge Hill (10 Lampton Lane), three of Mississippi's premiere Queen Anne residences. Besides these mansions, Southtown has a collection of smaller-scale (but equally ambitious) Queen Anne residences, a group of substantial (but unembellished) late-nineteenth century residences, one antebellum Greek Revival cottage that predates the neighborhood, the solid, formal Pike County Courthouse, and a variety of one-story municipal buildings. Significant twentieth century residences include the Cutrer House, a Neo-Classical bungalow (310 South Clark Street) designed by noted Mississippi architect C.H. Lindsey, and the Watkins House, a New England Period Revival structure, designed by Charles Armstrong (277 South Cherry Street).
Originally, Magnolia was first settled north of Bay Street, (Southtown's northern border) and west of Railroad Avenue. The city's early residences consisted of one-story, five-bay, Greek Revival houses, and one-story, irregularly massed cottages. Settlement was confined to this northern area until the 1870s, when Magnolia became the county seat, and the Pike County Courthouse was constructed facing north on Bay Street. In addition to the political advantage of being the county seat, Magnolia also received economic impetus in the 1870s, with the acceleration of railroad traffic into the city. New fortunes begat new buildings, and the grandest of these residences were built on the ample acres south of Bay Street, and north of the Minnehaha Creek during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. The Southtown Historic District, therefore, represents the late-nineteenth century affluence of Magnolia's upper classes.
Southtown remained primarily residential until the 1930s when the city constructed several public buildings near the courthouse complex.
The Southtown Historic District is an interesting and significant composition of high-style Queen Anne mansions, substantial late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century residences, formal public buildings, and one Greek Revival cottage. The Southtown Historic District enjoys a quiet setting and a gracious neighborhood ambiance.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History. Works Progress Administration. Pike County. Historic Homes Folder.
Smith, Lourette. Magnolia Through the Years. Magnolia, Miss.: Traditional Printing, 1977.
† P. Ana Gordon, Historian, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Southtown Historic District, Pike County, Mississippi, nomination document, 1983, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.