LOOKING BACK: Unraveling the History of a Queen Anne property

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

By Nancy Bell | Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation
This Free Classic Queen Anne house at 2308 Drummond St. was built in 1901 for Mary Searles on land she purchased from Warner and Searles for $2,250.
Warner and Searles was a “Gent’s clothing and furnishing” store where her husband, Daniel, worked. The company had bought the property in Speed’s Addition in 1896 for $1,300. Mary and Daniel were living on Cherry Street when, on April 15, 1900, Daniel died at age 50 from “congestion of the liver and kidneys.” His obituary in The Vicksburg Evening Post stated that he was the “youngest of 12 children, three of whom are now living. His mother still survives him, in her 86th year.”
He was a member of the Warner and Searles Company for 27 years and “was emphatically a man of public spirit, lending his personal and finances to every good practical measure in the city’s interest. At the time of his death, he was vice president of the Board of Trade and a director of the Fair Association. In his younger days, Mr. Searles was an active fireman and a member of the Hook and Ladder Company. He leaves a wife and six children.”

After Daniel’s death, perhaps using some of the $16,000 in life insurance the paper reported she received, Mary hired Bernhard A. Niehus to design her new home. Niehus had recently moved from Dayton, Ohio to Vicksburg to be the architect for Enochs-Havis Lumber Company, and presumably, the house was built by Enochs-Havis.

Mary moved into it in October 1901. She soon began opening her home to those who needed somewhere to stay while visiting Vicksburg or, as in the case with the W.C. Craig family, when they had torn down their home on Cherry Street and were building a new one (Craig-Flowers House).

Harry Gage and his family also stayed in the house in 1902. The Vicksburg Herald reported that Gage, “Deputy Great Incohonee of the Improved Order of Red Men, who has been in the city for some time intending to organize a tribe of the order here reports very satisfactory progress. He has secured the signatures of some 40-odd men of Vicksburg who would become braves, and the chances are good that the list will be doubled as Mr. Gage has merely skimmed around here and there, and he believes there is plenty of good material lying fallow.  The order of Red Men is conducted on strictly benevolent and fraternal lines, with no insurance benefits, its ministration being limited to sick benefits only and altogether it seems to be a good order.”

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In August 1910, Mary sold the house to Robert and Mattie Dent for $10,000. They had just moved from Gulfport in November 1909 for Dent to join the law firm of Hirsh and Landau. Both Robert and Mattie quickly became fully immersed in Vicksburg’s community affairs. Mattie was a member of the Embroidery Club, the 20th Century Club, the Whist Club, the Daughters of the Confederacy and the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. She often held club meetings in the house.  Robert was a member of the Elks Club, the Library Board, Rotary, the Civic League and the Mississippi Bar Association.

He was also a Mississippi delegate to the Democratic Convention of 1920. He was a good orator and was asked to deliver speeches on a variety of topics including the need for the United States to fight in World War I. He died unexpectedly on April 21, 1935, of a heart attack.

Mattie sold the house to Bertha Rotstein in February 1938. In 1947, her son, Joe, was listed as living in the house. By 1948, the house had been converted into apartments. The 1951 phone book listed Claude O. and Alice Ratelle living there and then in 1954 and 1956 Wilfred Rotstein is also listed there. C.O. died in 1959 and the city directory lists Alice there, along with Mrs. Ethel P. Reid, and VanLear, Sarah (widow of J.B.) and Newton Cowan. In 1962, the Cowans and Alice were there but joined by Jack Harper.

The 1979 city directory lists Mrs. Carter Stamm, Louis Adams and David Holt as residents and then the 1985 directory lists Mrs. Stamm, Mary Jackson and Lillian Curtis. The 1989 city directory lists Mrs. Stamm and Dorothy Lee. The house was eventually returned to a single-family residence and remains that today, loved and cared for by Bill and Denise Mounger.