Merrehope, Circa 1858
One of the first settlers in Meridian, Richard McLemore, owned 700 acres where Merrehope now stands. In 1858, he deeded 160 acres to his daughter Juriah as a wedding gift. She and her husband, W. H. Jackson, built a Greek Revival cottage in 1858. This is the antebellum part of Merrehope.
During the war between the States, in December 1863, General Leonidas Polk- who was known as “the fighting bishop” because he was the Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana before the War- moved into the cottage with his family and used the cottage as his Confederate headquarters.
General Polk was commander of troops who were charged with defending the east Mississippi area. On February 14, 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman came in with approximately 10,000 troops and forced Polk and his troops to evacuate Meridian. Sherman took over and burned almost all of Meridian and destroyed the railroad lines for 10 miles in each direction, making “Sherman Neckties”. Polk and his troops had already destroyed much of the rail in order to keep Sherman and his army from using them.
General Polk and some of his troops evacuated to the east near Alamucha. Some of the troops and most of Polk’s equipment and the railroad “rolling stock” were sent southward by rail to Mobile…with the last car pulling out of Meridian as Sherman was marching in.
Merrehope changed hands in 1868 and between 1868 and 1881 was owned by John Gary. This owner, a cotton broker, remodeled the home and added the ruby etched glass around the front door, the double parlor, the library and four rooms upstairs. This remodeling was done in the style of Italianate.
Between 1881 and 1903, a coal dealer, Mr. J. C. Lloyd, his wife and 13 children lived in the home. Mr. Lloyd had lost an arm during the War. He helped to start the first school system in Lauderdale County. He owned a jewelry store and was also the City Clerk for the town of Meridian.
Between 1903 and 1915 a wealthy cotton broker from Shubuta, Sam Floyd owned the home, adding the front columns, suspended balcony, 5 bathrooms, the walnut hand-carved stairway and electricity to the home. He also added the dining room, the morning room and two bedrooms upstairs. The style of architecture was transformed to neo-classical by this owner.
From 1915 until 1968 the home was converted first into rental property, then a boarding house and finally was divided into eight apartments.
In 1968, five women were traveling to a Federated Women’s Club meeting in Enterprise. One woman said “We really need a place in Meridian for all of our clubs to meet”. They all agreed and another woman added, “I know just the place, that home over on 31st Avenue is about to be destroyed and it is too beautiful to lose.” With that thought, a vision and lots of determination, The Meridian Restorations Foundation was formed by the members of the nine Federated Women’s Clubs of Meridian. They purchased the home and restoration which is an ongoing process was begun. Their dream became a reality and the home is used for club meetings and is rented to the public for weddings, receptions and parties. It is a tourist attraction and is open daily for tours.
Frank W. Williams House, Circa 1886
This Queen Ann Victorian style home was built by Frank W. Williams at 3128 Eighth Street, Meridian, Ms. in 1886. Mr. Williams presented the home to his bride as a wedding present and they lived in this home throughout their entire married life. It was one of the stately homes among other beautiful dwellings lining the then fashionable Eighth Street in Meridian, Ms.
The two-story home remained in the Williams family and through the generosity of his grand
daughter, Mrs. Hazel Williams Wright, was donated to the Meridian Restorations Foundation. It was moved to its present site in November 1979.
Before the house was moved to its present location, much work was done in preparation such as tree removal and grading. The sleeping porch and chimneys were removed and the bricks from the chimneys were used to build the foundation for the present location. It has a cedar shake roof which was very much the style during the Victorian period.
The house has an elevator which was called a “lift” in those days. The bathrooms are original to the house. The fireplaces were coal burning fireplaces but later Mr. Williams added the steam radiators.
Born in 1861, Mr. Frank W. Williams, a pioneer in the insurance industry, founded the F. W. Williams Insurance Agency and the U.S.F.&G. Insurance Company. He served on the U.S.F.&G. Insurance Company Board until his death in 1949.
Mrs. Williams sister “Miss Daisy” came from Virginia to live with the Williams. She was an integral part of the insurance business and has the distinction of being the first woman in the state of Mississippi to receive an insurance license and also the first woman in the state to be a partner in an insurance company.
Mr. Williams deeded the house to his wife but she preceded him in death. After her death, Mr. Williams moved from the home and gave the home to his sister-in-law, Daisy. During this period of time it was not considered proper for an unmarried man and woman to live together. She lived in the home until her death and left the home to her niece, Hazel. It was her wish for the home to be given to The Meridian Restorations Foundation since she and Mrs. Williams had been members of the Fortnightly Club, one of the federated women’s clubs that founded The Meridian Restorations Foundation.
When you visit the F. W. Williams Home you will be able to enjoy the beautiful stained glass windows in the front doors, the unusual hand laid parquet floors in the dining room which is graced with a wonderful stained glass arch perfectly displaying afternoon sunsets.
We invite you to step back in time and soak up this finest example of Queen Ann architecture in the state of Mississippi.