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History of Merrehope 2

“circa 1859”

In 1859 Richard McLemore, one of the first settlers of Meridian, deeded 160 of his 700 acres to his daughter, Juriah, as a wedding gift. In that same year, she and her husband, William H. Jackson built a Greek Revival cottage. That cottage is the original part of Merrehope.

During the war between the States, the house was acquired in 1863 by General Joseph E. Johnston, who was placed in command of the Department of the West, also known as the Trans-Mississippi District. He used the Merrehope cottage as his headquarters. In December of that year, General Leonidas Polk moved into the cottage with his family and used it as his Confederate headquarters. Formerly an Episcopal Bishop of Louisiana, he was referred to as the “fighting bishop.” Polk commanded troops charged with defending east Mississippi.

On February 14, 1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman entered Meridian with approximately 10,000 troops and forced Polk and his troops to evacuate the city. Sherman took control and burned almost all of Meridian. He destroyed the railroad lines for ten miles in each direction, leaving behind rails bent around trees called “Sherman Neckties.” Polk and his troops had already destroyed many of the rails in order to keep Sherman and his army from using them. Despite the surrounding destruction, the Merrehope cottage remained standing.  

General Polk and some of his troops had evacuated about 16 miles east near Alamucha, Mississippi. Some of the troops and most of Polk’s equipment, as well as the railroad “rolling stock,” were sent by rail to Mobile, Alabama, about 130 miles south. The last train car pulled out of Meridian as Sherman was marching in.

In 1868 Merrehope changed hands again. Between 1868 and 1881, it was owned by John Gary, a cotton broker, who remodeled the home, adding the double parlor, the library, four rooms upstairs and the ruby-etched glass around the front door. These changes were made in the Italianate architectural style.

Between 1881 and 1899, J. C. Lloyd lived in the home with his wife and thirteen children. He had lost an arm during the War. Mr. Lloyd owned a jewelry store and helped start the first school system in Lauderdale County.  He was also the City Clerk for the city of Meridian and served on the city council.

The house changed hands three more times between 1899 and 1903. Then, from 1903 to 1915, Sam Floyd, a wealthy cotton broker from Shubuta, Mississippi, owned the home and made even more significant additions. His remodeling included adding the exterior front columns, the suspended balcony, five bathrooms, the dining and morning rooms, two upstairs bedrooms and the beautiful hand-carved walnut staircase. Mr. Floyd also added electricity to the home. Through his renovations, the architectural style of the home was transformed to Neoclassical.

From 1915 until 1945, the house was converted to rental property and became a boarding house. Otto Tibbetts purchased it in 1945 and divided it into eight apartments.

In 1968, five women were traveling to a Federated Women’s Club meeting in Enterprise, Mississippi. 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, Inc. was formed by the members of the nine Federated Women’s Clubs of Meridian. They purchased the home and called it Merrehope – MER for Meridian, RE for Restoration and HOPE for Hope for the future. The lengthy restoration process started, and their dream became a reality!

Today, the home is a house museum and tourist attraction, as well as a popular venue for club meetings, showers, parties, receptions and weddings. Checkout the “Tours” tab on this website for Merrehope’s days and hours of operation.


Learn about Merrehope’s “sister” home, the F.W. Williams Home

 Use your skills and talents as a volunteer. Honor these special homes with your donations. Join the momentum, and let’s give these treasures the love and care they deserve so they can be enjoyed today and by future generations!



Join us in celebrating and preserving Meridian’s most historic and beautiful landmarks. Friends of Merrehope play a significant role in the day-to-day operations of Merrehope and the F. W. Williams Home.

Click the link below and join today!

Friends of Merrehope Application

The Meridian Restorations Foundation has launched the “Raise the Roof” Capital Campaign, our comprehensive plan to save and operate Merrehope and the F.W. Williams Home.
A new roof is needed at Merrehope as well as immediate repairs to both houses. Under the Board’s leadership, Merrehope has been awarded a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for a new roof and repairs to the damage and deterioration caused by leaking rainwater. This work (Phase 1) will start Summer of 2024! The roof is critical but only part of the vision. The Meridian Restorations Foundation is determined to restore Meridian’s oldest homes to their past grandeur.  Partner with us in this endeavor to preserve, restore and maintain these treasures.

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