Looking back: Henry and Dora Kline House

Published 6:12 pm Sunday, May 19, 2024

Construction on the Spanish Revival house at 2322 Cherry Street was begun in April 1920 and completed in March 1921. It was designed by Vicksburg architect Michael Donovan and built by E. G. Parish Construction Company from Jackson, Tenn. with the interior decorations “installed” by Arnold Brothers and Stubbe, of Memphis, under the direction of Achille Stubbe, portrait painter.  

The dark red “burlap” brick house was designed with a green tile roof, attic, basement, and servant’s quarters over a double garage. The ground floor contains the living room, conservatory, library, solarium, dining room, breakfast room and a “cook room,” according to The Vicksburg Post. They reported that “on the second floor there are two bedrooms, study hall, two built-in sleeping porches and two bathrooms. In the attic ether are four closets with poles, shelving, top, bottom and sides built entirely of cedar and besides there is ample space for storage. The heater, laundry, coal bin, preserve storage room and rooms for storage are contained in the basement.  An electrical ironing board, mangle and other compete equipment are part of the laundry.  

“Achille Stubbe, who is doing the painting in the residence, is a Frenchman, and studied six years in Paris as a portrait painter. This is his hobby, but he finds in this country it is financially more profitable to turn his talents to professional decorating work. He has lived in the United States 14 years. Mr. Stubbe was given carte blanche in doing his work here. The walls in the dining room have been given the French classical treatment – mountain scenery, water, trees being shown in the beautiful paintings. The breakfast room has been painted in sepia tones. An ornate rockwood mantle is in the living room. The walls are covered with silk damask, a putty colored effect being carried out.

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“The entrance hallway and stairway are very elegant. It might be stated that Mrs. Kline saw just the kind of a stairway she wanted in her home in one of the moving picture interiors, and getting Mr. Donovan to see the photoplay he got the desired idea and a very pretty effect has been obtained. Stained glass windows above the stairway add to the charm. The sleeping porches are provided with built-in Murphy beds. All the closets through the house, and there are a number of these conveniences, are arranged so that on opening the doors the electric lights therein are lit, and when the door is closed, the lights are turned off.

“There are porcelain bathtubs, and chutes lead from the bath rooms to the basement, down which the soiled clothing may be dropped near to the laundry. One of the bath rooms has a marble shower. A telephone system extends thru the house. All the rooms are electrically lighted. A novelty consists of a safe built in the closet of the bedroom of Mrs. Kline.”  

Henry Kline’s brother, Meyer, built a duplicate of the house for himself in Clarksdale, Miss., which was finished a few months later.

Henry Kline was a native of Lithuania and came to the United Stated as a child, eventually living in Anguilla and then moving to Vicksburg in 1921. He was a well-known and wealthy planter in the Delta with extensive farming and mercantile interests.  He drove daily to Cameta, Onward and Anguilla where he operated stores and plantations. He was a director of the Bank of Anguilla and was also on the board of directors of the First National Bank and Trust Company and O’Neill McNamara Hardware Company in Vicksburg.  He was a member of Congregation Anshe Chesed and served on the Temple board from the time that he moved to Vicksburg until his death. He also served in civic and community activities, having been a member of the advisory board of Mercy Hospital-Street Memorial and a member of the PMA board of Sharkey County. The couple had three children – Milton, Riva Mina “Blossie” (Simmons), and Frieda (Fischel).

Henry Kline died in the house June 18, 1953, of a heart attack at the age of 77. An editorial in The Vicksburg Post recounted that “Vicksburg lost one of our most beloved citizens. He was a substantial citizen, a man of many interests. But he had that unique kindliness of heart that set him apart from the average man. He was the epitome of virtue and of fairness – a man loved and respected by all. His life was an open book excepting only in his benevolences, which he would not parade. Many who knew not their benefactor have been befriended by this great man. He gave to us an example of righteousness which we can all emulate. Our own life has been enriched by knowing him.”

In June 1955, Dora advertised that the house was for sale for $35,000. Two months later she advertised some of her furnishings for sale. In October 1956, Mrs. Watson McDonald lived here until February 1958 when, as reported by The Vicksburg Post, Mr. and Mrs. Albert H. Paxton and their children, Albert (Sonny) Jr., Billy, Pamela Sue, and John, moved into “their beautiful new house.” 

In September 1965, the Paxtons were selling the house and advertised it as “newly redecorated.”  In late 1965, and in 1966, Mr. and Mrs. Bennie Mullins and Mrs. Jack Summers lived here and then in June 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lee Forrest and their son, Wayne, moved in. The Vicksburg Post reported that they were “newcomers to Vicksburg” and that Forrest would work for the Corps of Engineers. Lee Forrest died in 2012, followed by Norma in 2015, and the house was put up for sale in January 2016. 

The house remains today as a beautiful reminder of the Kline and Forrest families.  

Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.