LOOKING BACK: Monroe Street’s 1100 block and its architectural history

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, September 20, 2023

By Nancy Bell | Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation

In previous articles, I have highlighted the histories of buildings along the east side of the 1100 block of Monroe Street.

The American Foursquare house built in 1904 on the southeast corner of Monroe and Grove streets was built for Mrs. J.S. Harrison. The next house, 1105 Monroe St., is a two-story Queen Anne built in 1904 by the Ledbetter Brothers also for Harrison, and was designed by William Stanton and Son.

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Stanton also designed the next house, 1107 Monroe St., for Harrison and the Ledbetters built it. The fourth house, as seen in the photo, was designed in 1904 for Harrison by Weathers and Company and built in 1905 by the Ledbetter Brothers for $3,800.

In November of that year, the Vicksburg Herald reported that this house, 1111 Monroe St., “will fill out the line of fine modern dwelling houses on that block, which little more than a year ago was pretty nearly a waste place, principally used as a lumber yard, and it is a decided improvement. It is not unlikely that the fine lot at the China Street corner will before very long be adorned by a residence structure worthy of that fine site.”

As with the other three houses Harrison owned on the block, this, too, was a rental house.

The house to the south of 1111 Monroe St. had been built in 1903 as rental property (a boarding house) for Steve Spengler, who owned the south half of the property on this block. The Herald reported in April 1905 that Spengler had built a home for his family on the last empty lot on the block, on the corner of China Street.

The house was designed by Vicksburg architect Michael J. Donovan. The Herald announced that the house is “probably the most ornate in design of the entire series, and seems to be quite a feather in the cap of Architect M.J. Donovan, who is watching the work closely.”

Donovan’s elevation drawing of the house, shown here, is evidence of the beauty of this Colonial Revival residence.

Unfortunately, this house and the house next door were destroyed by a fire on Oct. 2, 1917, that started in the attic of the boarding house. Twenty-four people were asleep in the house at 2 a.m. when the blaze started.

They were aided by U.S. soldiers who were passing and saw the smoke and flames. The entire fire department, 30 men, worked to keep the fire from spreading to the rest of the block. The Vicksburg Post reported that Mrs. Ostroffsky and Mrs. Fisher, who lived across Monroe Street from the boarding house, made hot coffee for the firefighters “which they greatly appreciated and enjoyed.”

This photo is from 1931 and shows that the lots were still empty 14 years later. The home at 1111 Monroe St. is seen in this photo just north of the lot. Shortly after this photo was taken, it was destroyed and the one-story Craftsman bungalow, which occupies the lot today, was built