LOOKING BACK: From the Hirsch house to a home

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 25, 2023

By Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation

This American Foursquare house at 1400 Baum St. was designed by architect Michael Donovan and was built by H.H. Havis builders for $9,000 in 1911 for Lazarus and Regina Hirsch on the southeast corner of Baum and Frederick streets.

“Laz” Hirsch was born in Essingen Bavaria, Germany, in 1843 and came to the United States when he was 17. He enlisted in the Confederate Army and served throughout the war in a Mississippi regiment.

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According to The Vicksburg Evening Post, he was very close to Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston when the latter was wounded in the leg and removed from the field of battle. After the surrender, Hirsch came to Vicksburg and engaged in mercantile pursuits. Jacob Schlenker was his first employer and then he went into business for himself as L. Hirsch and Brother, retiring from that company to become a cotton buyer.

In 1890, he was elected president of the Anshe-Chesed Congregation and served as such until his death in 1916. He also served as secretary of the B.B. Club and as its librarian and was the secretary of the Mississippi Lodge No. 98 I.O.B.B.

In 1872, he married Regina Klein and they had eight children, three of whom did not live past 2 years old. Their daughter, Fannie, married Ernest Bernstein, the mayor of Shreveport, La., at the time.

When the house was built in 1911, Laz and Regina were joined by daughters Elsie (a stenographer with Hirsch, Dent and Landau, lawyers) and Julia (and her husband, David, a traveling salesman) and their son Lee, a partner in Fischel and Hirsch, Cigars and Pool.

After the death of Laz, Regina and Julia continued to live in the house. After Regina died in 1923, the house became a rental property. Residents included William and Mary Fant (1924), Maj. J.C.H. and Sarah Lee (U.S. Engineers-Vicksburg District)(1929) and Norman C. Schlemmer, president of Vicksburg Cooperage Company (1935).

The house became the home of Dr. William and Helen Purks in approximately 1940. Purks was a physician with the Vicksburg Clinic and the president of Vicksburg Hospital, Inc. The house remains an important building within the Chambers-Baum Street neighborhood.