CATEGORY: Lee County
HED:Carrollville House: Baldwyn man restores the boyhood home of Pvt. John Allen
By Eileen Bailey
BALDWYN- When Joe Bishop was 6, he knew exactly what his dream house would look like.
He could see the large white columns, lead glass windows and inviting front porch. Bishop could see it in such clear detail because he lived near it for eight years.
“I lived behind the home but never got to come in,” he said.
In 1982, the former florist, and his wife, Faye, purchased his dream home.
Located close to the four-lane U.S. Highway 45, Carrollville House was once the home of Pvt. John Allen, who served in Congress from 1885 to 1901 and was instrumental in getting a fish hatchery in Tupelo.
“This has been my dream house all of my life,” said the 76-year-old Bishop. “I worked to get this home three years before I got it.”
And once he got it, Bishop worked to renovate the home and add antique touches throughout.
Log house beginnings
David M. and Sally Spencer Allen moved to Northeast Mississippi from Spencer, Va., in the early 1800s. After the home they were living in burned, the Allens constructed a four-room bungalow in 1867.
The bungalow contained three bedrooms, a detached kitchen and a parlor. The Allens lived in the home with their 12 children, two of whom were born at the Spencer tobacco plantation in Virginia.
The bungalow was built with 4-by-6 studs and 6-by-6 corners pegged into hand-hewn cypress beams. The fireplaces were located at the end of each room and the ceilings were 9 feet tall.
Shortly after the turn of the century, the home was owned by William M. and Forrest Allen Cox. Forrest Allen Cox was the youngest of the Allen children.
It was the Cox family who renovated the home, adding a second story and raising the ceiling height. The downstairs fireplaces – there are nine fireplaces in the house – were moved to the center of the rooms and windows were added where they used to be.
The layout downstairs consists of a music room, parlor, library, bedroom, dining room and a kitchen, that was later attached by a porch and breeze way.
Upstairs are four bedrooms.
After Bishop bought the house in 1982, he added many decorative touches, including the molding made from 512 one-inch square pieces of wood from the fence in front of the home. He also added molding over some of the windows.
Decorative ceiling medallions and antique light fixtures also were installed. As a special touch, Bishop added a bragging post at the bottom of the stairs. Atop the post, he placed a Morgan silver dollar signaling that the house is debt-free .
“They did this in a lot of houses in Natchez except they used ivory buttons,” Bishop said.
After moving into the home Bishop and his wife, who is now deceased, began to fill it with period antiques. He purchased a full tester bed and armoire that once belonged to Col. Ruben Davis of Aberdeen.
Other antique touches include an Empire petticoat table, a sea captain’s bed and antique photographs, including one of Pvt. John Allen’s father, David.
Some original furniture remains in the home, including the dining room chairs, a large heavy sofa, a Brentwood seat that was placed on the second floor porch and a half-tester bed Bishop found dismantled in the attic.
The care and love Bishop put into restoring the house extends to the four acres of gardens, including an English boxwood garden. As visitors walk through the gardens behind the house they pass a water garden. Stone figures are tucked behind bushes and small shrubs.
The quiet of the garden is broken occasionally by the rumble of large trucks passing behind the house along U.S. Highway 45.
Visitors walk past a peach-colored garden house Bishop built and through rows of day lilies that have begun to fade in the intense heat.
Nestled in the shade of large trees is a chapel, equipped with pews and alter, that Bishop had moved from Verona. Bishop said his home and garden has been host to several family weddings.
As Bishop headed back to the shade of the porch, he said he is constantly in awe of the house.
“Think of all of the lives that have been affected by this house,” he said.
- The home, located on Carrollville Avenue, was first built in 1867 as a four-room bungalow with 9-foot ceilings.
-It was the boyhood home of Pvt. John Allen, who served in Congress from 1885 to 1901. It also was home to Allen’s 11 brothers and sisters.
- The home was renovated in 1907. A second floor was added and the ceilings downstairs were heightened by three feet.
- Current owner Joe Bishop, who bought the home in 1982, has decorated it with period antiques.
- The home is open for tours by calling 365-7828.