Couple thought about it, but just couldn’t leave Vicksburg
So what does a couple do if they are at the juncture of their life where they want to downsize, but the location of their home has an impressive sight of the Mississippi River? They build another house with just as grand a view.
For nearly 25 years, Paul and Donna Ingram lived just off Warrenton Road in a home that overlooked Old Man River as well as the Mississippi River bridges.
Though Donna admits the house served them well while raising their two sons — John, their oldest, who is now a CPA with GranthamPoole CPAs in Ridgeland; and Chris, who is an assistant golf pro at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. — the couple was ready to make some changes.
After several years of considering a move to other cities they had visited during their travels, the couple decided to stay in Vicksburg and build the home that would “see them out,” Donna said.
“We considered relocating to other cities in the Southeast, but realized positive changes were occurring in Vicksburg and we decided to remain,” Donna said.
Paul, who is an architect, had drawn up preliminary plans for a couple of Vicksburg downtown sites, Donna said, even before the couple purchased the property where their new home sits.
They also formulated a list of must-haves for their new home.
“We developed an inventory of items we wanted in a new location. I wanted a home that Paul customized for our tastes and lifestyle, and my inventory included a water view — ocean, lake or river, sunsets and a vibrant cultural scene,” she said, adding, “Paul nixed any place with a hurricane threat.”
Must-haves for Donna also included plenty of storage, a first floor master bedroom, lighting to showcase their art collection, and wide halls and doorways in case they ever needed to modify for future mobility issues. Donna said she also wanted a smaller pool.
“Our other river home had a large pool and we generally only used one third of it. Our ‘spa’ pool is big enough to do my version of water aerobics, enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sun set and cooling off after a busy day.”
Paul’s list was a bit more utilitarian in that he wanted an enclosed double garage that was somewhat heated and cooled to accommodate their bicycles, an efficient HVAC system and extra insulation.
But he also wanted the house to have ample natural light, which was accomplished with the more than 50 window units and three glass patio doors.
While options for a waterfront view could have been hard to come by, fortunately one of Donna’s former bosses had a piece of real estate that fit the bill.
Donna, who is an accountant, said Ken Hicks, who along with the late David May had hired her in 1983 to work for May and Company, had a river view lot for sale and had been urging her and Paul to purchase it.
“Many decades ago David May and his family lived on the same lot Ken was trying to sell. It just seemed right that we should follow David and Ken in ownership,” Donna said.
While the view is slightly different from their former home, with no view of the I-20 Bridge or boats navigating through the bridge piers, there are still the magnificent sunsets.
“And we see boats being fueled by Ergon, barges being added or removed and tows sitting still waiting on new cargo to arrive. It is never dull,” Donna said.
Both Donna and Paul wanted a contemporary style home and, with the help of contractor Robbie Cowart, the couple was able to pull off a home like no other in Vicksburg.
“I wanted to keep a lower profile in scale, like the cottages in our area, and not use brick or cement board cladding, but something a little different, which is why we went with corrugated steel and cedar,” Paul said. “We wanted more contemporary than traditional, partly because the flat, buildable part of the lot is a 45-45-90 triangle, so the floor plan had to be a triangle to fit,” he said.
And thanks to local metal roofer Mike Hogan, Paul said, they were able to use the corrugated metal.
“We were fortunate to have him take this on,” Paul said. “It was different for him, and he enjoyed applying his vast knowledge of sheet metal systems and trim to make it work.”
To make sure the home achieved their desired aesthetic, Donna said they traveled around to other states to find the right light fixtures, countertops, grates and doors.
“Most stores sell traditional products and that was not the style we were looking for in our new home,” she said.
And when it comes to the couple’s favorite features in their home, the list included the IKEA kitchen, the intricate interior lighting used to illuminate their art collection and the front door.
“We wanted something unique, and during one of our trips I Googled funky door designs while Paul was driving. Several ideas surfaced, but we settled on one that reminded Paul of a flowing river. We then discussed a custom mahogany door and sidelight with Thad Pratt of Vicksburg Woodworks, and leaded art glass designs with Andy Young of Pearl River Glass Studio. These two artists designed and built a beautiful front door,” Donna said.
The couple also purchased a front entry art light and another art piece from Young, as well as a red pendant light fixture created by a New Hampshire artist Donna found through Google.
Since 2006, Paul and Donna have shared an office space. As with their first river home, the new home also offers a conjoined work area.
“There is a second story above part of the house and half of that space is allocated to our office,” Donna said, with the other half housing a bathroom and bedroom.
Though retired from traditional public accounting, Donna still works practically full time as a forensic accountant, performing fraud investigations and litigation support. Paul maintains his career focusing mainly on commercial design projects.
“People wonder how we have been able to share office space and live together for so long,” Paul said. “Our relationships with our clients are similar and we have a common respect for what each other does and that helps.
“We also enjoy playing together — cycling and traveling,” Paul added.
So with only a two-bedroom house, Donna said they have had many of their friends ask where their boys will stay if they both choose to visit at the same time.
“We remind them that there is a casino hotel below us,” she said, adding, “Our joke is that when we can no longer get up and down the steps to the office we will retire and the space will convert to a third bedroom.”
Editor’s note: This article appeared in the July/August 2019 edition of Vicksburg Living.
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