Southeast Senatobia Historic District
The Southeast Senatobia Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. 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 Southeast Senatobia Historic District is a U-shaped residential area which lies generally to the east of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and to the south of East Main Street (MS Highway 4) in the city of Senatobia, Tate County, Mississippi. The Southeast Senatobia Historic District contains historic resources located along East Gilmore Street, Heard Street, South Park Street, and East Tate Street. Apart from its forty-four principal residences, the Southeast Senatobia Historic District also contains a lineal public park which runs parallel to and in between the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and the line of South Park Street.
The street and lot pattern in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District follows two axes, and thus, form a highly-irregular grid pattern. This irregular pattern suggests the subdivision development of the district in three phases or more, the sense of which is reflected in the dates of construction evident in the inventory, and by the pattern of modern structures left outside of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District's boundaries. The western two-thirds of the district was laid out sometime after ca. 1856 to relate to the alignment of the Tennessee and Mississippi Railroad (now Illinois Central Gulf Railroad). The line of East Tate Street and East Gilmore Street both run perpendicular to the railroad, with South Park Street and South Robinson Street established parallel to the railroad. The earliest buildings in this area of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District were constructed by the early 1880s at the least.
A "break" in this axis occurs in the lots nearest to Heard Street. In this area, the alignment of Heard Street, East Gilmore Street and East Tate Street all shift slightly towards true north-south away from the railroad's alignment, which runs more north-northwest/south-southeast. Structures in this small area of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District do not appear to pre-date ca. 1880-85.
The third subdivision pattern evident near the district is of far more recent vintage. It is clear that a good deal of subdivision of the lots on the west side of Robinson Street facing east to Robinson has occurred since the 1925 and 1936-42 Sanborn map series. None of the structures shown on these maps survive today. Further, it is clear that a group of post-World War II properties have been developed on the north side of East Gilmore Street in the vicinity of Robinson Street, including the re-subdivision of rear lots for the development of infill housing units built in ca. 1990-91. This "core" of post-historic buildings were not included in the boundaries of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District.
The general topography of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District is generally flat in character, rising from the north to the south and from the west to the east. As a result, land terraces are found as the setting for properties on the south side of East Gilmore Street, the southern portion of South Park Street, and for the easternmost portions of East Tate Street. Mature street trees spanning the streets form a most important landscape characteristic of the district; this is especially important along the northern portion of South Park Street, where plantings in the lineal park there add an additional buffer of major trees to the depth of the canopy. Varieties of trees found in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District include red oak, white oak, maple, tulip poplar, red maple, magnolia and red gum.
Lot sizes in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District range greatly, from as little as 75 feet in frontage to as many as 200 feet; the average frontage appears to be in the range of 100-110 feet. Lot depths also range widely, especially on the south side of East Gilmore Street where some lots exceed 650 feet in depth. Most lot depths in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District range between 150 and 200 feet. In spite of the range of lot depths, the setbacks of houses in the district is relatively uniform, ranging from 30 to 60 feet back from the curb of the street. The architectural styles of residential properties in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District include most of the representative influences found in the historic areas of Senatobia. The Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Minimalist Traditional styles are all to be found in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District. Traditional house types that have been identified include the center hall plan, double-crib, composite cottage, bungalow, modified shotgun, Foursquare, I-house, saddlebag, side L-plan, and Cape.
The elements of character provided by the individual lots and general streetscapes establish the character of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District's historic setting, as evolved over time. The pattern of streets, lot divisions, front yard and side yard setbacks all establish the matrix of rhythm evidenced by its historic buildings; its pattern of historic street trees, sidewalks, private trees and lawns reflect evidence of the continuity of the district as a historic place for living. All of these elements contribute to the character of the district.
The Southeast Senatobia Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the area of architecture for its fine, locally-important collection of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century house types and architectural influences. The period of significance is initiated with the date of the earliest existing structure found in the district; it concludes with the date of construction of the latest structure that reflects the historic character of the district. The historic character of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District reflects many of the same trends and characteristics of other historic areas of Senatobia, but also possesses many unique traits and properties that provide its own sense of individual character. In all, the Southeast Senatobia Historic District remains as an important contributor to the overall character of time and place that is unique to Senatobia.
The development of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District appears to have begun soon after the establishment of Tate County in 1873, with its county seat at Senatobia. The earliest surviving structures in the Southeast Senatobia Historic District include the P.M.B. Wait Home (109 East Tate Street), the Roseborough House (110 South Park Street), and the John E. Matthews House (209 East Tate Street), all of which appear from local historical sources to have been built in the period of ca. 1870-80. It is clear that the development of this portion of the community was underway, though residences were widely scattered in this era.
The development of the Southeast Senatobia Historic District following its earliest growth period occurred in fits and starts through the remainder of the nineteenth century. If there is one house which represents a number of these important building periods, that house would be the Wilborn-Still House, located at 208 East Tate Street. This triple gable-dormer Gothic I-house is quite unusual for the region, perhaps made more so by its layers of front facade additions made since its original construction in ca. 1875-80. The front two-level portico was added to the house in a second era of development, probably soon after its purchase by Wick E. Still in 1894. This fine Queen Anne portico features a number of scroll-sawn elements, including brackets and porch filler. The lower porch piers represent a third period of development, when Craftsman battered boxed piers on raised brick bases were installed to replace the earlier supports in this location.
There are other structures which reflect similar pattern of development and alteration within the same periods of time such as 106 East Tate Street (built ca. 1873-75; porch altered ca. 1905-10), or the P.M.B. Wait House (109 East Tate, built ca. 1870-75; altered 1920-25). However, there are many other structures which remain as good documents of their own time, and their own time alone.
By way of examples, the Old Manse of the Methodist Church of Senatobia (211 South Park Street) is a fine example of a Queen Anne influenced composite cottage, which retains its turned porch posts, shaped gable end shingles, scroll-sawn brackets and other features, built between the time of the 1902 and 1907 Sanborn map series. Another is the composite cottage located at 113 East Gilmore Street, built ca. 1900-05, which displays transitional influences of the Queen Anne and the Colonial Revival. Similarities between the two structures suggest a common builder.
Later building periods are reflected in different building forms and stylistic influences, as Senatobia adapted to changing national trends in building and fashion. At about the time of World War I, structures like the small Craftsman Bungalow at 201 East Gilmore Street (ca. 1915-20) were being built. In contrast with this modest structure was the large Craftsman modified Foursquare house at 204 East Tate Street (ca. 1915-20), with its jerkinhead roofs and eyebrow dormers, knee brace brackets, massive brick piers and side porte cochere.
A final building period prior to the close of the period of historic significance is represented by structures such as the elaborate Cape located at 208 Heard Street, built in 1925-30 with high-styled Colonial Revival details, as compared to the restrained telescopic Cape at 105 East Gilmore Street (ca. 1935-40), which was detailed in a much simpler form of the Colonial Revival.
Taken as a whole, the Southeast Senatobia Historic District reflects a cross-section of the progressions of tastes and fashions of Senatobia, as well as the tale of the times in the latter quarter of the nineteenth century and first four decades of the twentieth century. It is a place of both unique expressions of individual Senatobians and their families, as well as expressions of the societal and cultural norms of Senatobia as a whole. Like the other historic areas of Senatobia, the Southeast Senatobia Historic District is a core part of the character of place that defines Senatobia as unique unto itself.
Carpenter, Howard, editor, The History of Tate County (Senatobia, MS: B/C Printing, 1975).
Puryear, Carolyn, Tate County Democrat "Progress Edition", July 3, 1980, Section D, pgs. 1-12.
Sanborn Map Company, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Senatobia, map series 1886, 1892, 1897, 1902, 1907, 1915, 1925 and 1936-42.
Tate County Genealogical and Historical Society, The Heritage of Tate County, Mississippi (Curtis Media, 1991).
† John Linn Hopkins, Preservation Consultant, Southeast Senatobia Historic District, Tate County, Senatobia, MS, nomination document, 1993, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.