House’s move makes it a home

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 22, 2003

Cheryl Pemberton pauses a moment while talking about her favorite room of the McDermott House, the parlor.(Melanie Duncan Thortis The Vicksburg Post)

[9/22/03]A Vicksburg woman who said she was led by God to her historic home at 1111 South St. is at last settled in, more than a year after the house was moved across the street.

“I looked in the windows, and I knew this was it,” said Cheryl Pemberton, owner of the McDermott home, about her first visit, now several years ago.

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The home was in the path of a planned parking lot expansion for First Presbyterian Church. It won three stays of demolition before a plan to move it to a vacant lot almost opposite where it was built nearly a century ago.

Professional house movers began stripping the home of its bricks, fireplaces and chimneys nearly two years ago before the move from 1100 South St. to 1111 South St. The move in June 2002 required the house to be lifted by hydraulic jacks and placed on a trailer, pulled from under utility lines, reversed, then painstakingly backed onto its new lot.

And now, more than a year later, Pemberton and her daughter, Sarah, can call the house a home.

It’s filled with antiques Pemberton collected for 18 years; it has air conditioning and heating; and it has new plumbing.

“It’s just got the best feeling,” she said of the home where she’s lived since March. “I feel the character. I feel that.”

Complete with the original six fireplace mantels, windows and winding staircase, most of the home’s interior and exterior survived the move unscathed. With a few more cosmetic changes, such as finishing the original hardwood floors and hanging lace curtains, the house is complete.

Pemberton has painted rooms, added furniture, plastered walls and filled gaps left from the removed chimneys. In short it’s been a lot of work, but worth it.

Pemberton moved to Vicksburg in 2001 from Knoxville, Tenn., for one 3,500-square-foot reason the home, which cost $40,000 to move plus renovation costs.

“My mom’s dream was to have a house like this,” said Pemberton, who works as a court reporter for Rankin County. “She died when I was 18, and I made her dream come true.”

The home was built 99 years ago for Abe and Emma Brown and later purchased by the McDermotts.

But because of its historical significance, residents and members of the city’s architectural review board opposed the demolition. Eventually the church gave the home to Nelda Sampey, who is a member of the review board, plus $9,000 the church planned to spend for demolition. And Sampey in turn deeded the home to Pemberton.

Though the house traveled just a short distance across the street, the road to completion has been a long one. However, Pemberton is home, at last.

“It’s comforting,” she said. “I feel at home here.”