- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - A 159-year antebellum home overlooking Lake Washington near Greenville has been gutted by fire.

The fire was reported about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

Nancy Coleman, a member of the Lake Washington Beautification Committee, told the Delta Democrat-Times (https://bit.ly/1IkXO9h) that she saw Mount Holly after the fire and said all that is left are the bricks.

“It’s a devastation,” she said. “It’s a sad day for history here.”

The 30-room mansion was completed in 1856 for Margaret Johnson. Her father bought the land, and she was to pay him $100,000 for it. Supposedly, she only paid $20,000, and when her father died, he left only the house to her.

During the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, one of the most disastrous floods in recorded history, Mount Holly was used as headquarters for relief committees.

The home was built of slave-made brick with 14-foot ceilings and 2-foot thick walls. It was once owned by the family of Shelby Foote, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War historian.

In 1944, the Cox family came in possession of the plantation.

“I have a lot of family memories there, and it was a beautiful place,” Greenville Mayor John Cox said Wednesday. “Both my daughters had their wedding receptions there and my sister was married there.”

The Cox family owned the plantation until 1974, when they donated the home to the Greenville United Methodist Church.

The Methodist church later sold the plantation to P.C. and Ann Woods, who lived there for 10 to 15 years, Cox said. Cox said the couple remodeled and turned the plantation into a Bed and Breakfast.

In 2003, the couple sold Mount Holly to Matt Wiggins, Cox said. Cox said he was told Wiggins had plans to remodel and fix up the plantation, however, that never happened and the mansion fell into disrepair.

Cox said he and his wife, Lynn, had recently agreed to be a part of a historic preservation committee that had plans to purchase and fix-up the plantation to preserve its rich history.

“It was one of three or four Antebellum homes that stood out in the Delta,” Cox said. “It’s a shame to lose it.”

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Information from: Delta Democrat-Times, https://www.ddtonline.com

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