- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CORINTH, Miss. (AP) - After extensive work on the foundation, roof and grounds, the Verandah-Curlee House will open Friday and Saturday for the Corinth Home and Garden Tour.

Although the doors are opening again at the Verandah-Curlee House, there is still a long way to go in renovating the 1857 structure.

Now that the urgent foundation and roof problems are fixed, public visitation resumes on a regular schedule June 11 after the grand opening on Friday and Saturday. The next phase of work moves to the interior, where the look of the house will be made historically accurate while fixing crumbling plaster and other problems. And there are other plans for the future, such as making the detached cottage into an office and gift shop.

“We have years of work ahead of us,” said Siege & Battle of Corinth Commission Chair Rosemary Williams.

On a recent visit to the house, she explained why it is worth the expense and painstaking effort to save. Even for those aren’t history buffs, she sees at least one good reason.

“Not only the house, but everything else we have done here, is a huge economic development project,” said Williams. “It’s not just about preserving an old house. It’s about improving our community through the money that we can generate from visitors.”

It is here that Albert Sidney Johnston, headquartered at another Corinth home, came in the night, awakening Gen. Braxton Bragg with his idea of an attack at Shiloh. The announcement that black troops would be taken into the Army was made on the front lawn.

“The place was built by one of our founders,” said Williams, “and it’s very unusual for a town this old to have a home in condition as good as it is and as beautiful as it is by one of its founders.”

The structural rehabilitation included lifting the home completely off its failing foundation. The piers now have steel cores inside the original brick. A new roof is in place, and the rotting porch is fixed.

A number of funding pieces came together to make it possible: a Save Americas Treasures grant of about $148,000 and matching funds from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History; about $100,000 raised by the Friends of the Verandah-Curlee House; and about $50,000 from the Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission.

“It took years for us to match the grants and accumulate the money,” said Williams. “We could not sign a contract and start something this big without having all of the funds in place, even though the floor was falling in and the house cosmetically looked bad from the outside.”

The grounds needed extensive work after all of the heavy machinery was gone.

“Most of it has been done back to about the 1929-1930 period when the Curlees had it, because during the Civil War period there were virtually no plants here,” said Williams.

A new kitchen garden in memory of the late Stephanie Sandy is planted with squash, okra, beans, herbs, tomatoes and corn. It is close to the location of the original kitchen. Near the back door is a cutting garden like would have been used to provide fresh flowers for the house.

The brick walkways have been restored, and some square bricks donated from an old Rienzi home place that predates the Verandah-Curlee House were used.

The lawn contains a couple of petrified logs that the late Clifford Worsham had brought to the home from the cut of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. A plaque will be added for the logs, which will be used for benches.

Inside, the plumbing and electric have been brought up to code, but there is extensive plaster repair and painting to be done. Experts have analyzed the paint, plaster and decor and made recommendations for the interior work.

Because of the home’s historic status, “Everything that we do is approved by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and goes on to Washington to be approved by the National Park Service before we are able to move ahead,” said Williams.

In rooms such as the “best room,” or parlor, the plaster work is cracking.

“It’s going to be hand removed, which is going to be a painstaking job,” she said.

The room will also get wall-to-wall carpeting in keeping with the 1860s style.

In the main hall, the floor will probably go to a painted cloth, likely in a tile pattern.

“The reason they had this type of floor covering in the entrance was that the streets were not paved, there was no air conditioning, the place was dusty, doors were open and windows were open for ventilation,” she said. “It was very difficult to keep clean, so the painted floors could be cleaned rather quickly.”

The wallpaper in this area, hung in the 1960s, is not appropriate to the 1860s era and will be replaced.

Across from the best room is a room that for many years has been a library but will be returned to a bedroom as it originally was. The home was unusual for the time in having closets, and this bedroom’s closet will be reconstructed.

The adjacent bedroom, containing a bed that came from a plantation of the same era in south Louisiana, will get carpeting and will be one of the easier rooms to restore, said Williams.

The dining room will have one of the bigger repairs in an area where moisture rising from the basement as the result of a gutter leak damaged the wall.

Some of the furnishings and light fixtures need to be replaced with those appropriate for the 1860s era.

The home will be open for tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Beginning June 11, the home is open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. It will close from mid-December to March 1.

___

Information from: The Daily Corinthian.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide