CATEGORY: Chickasaw County
By Eileen Bailey
OKOLONA – Crystal drops swayed slightly as a morning breeze drifted through the open screen in front of the hand-carved door surrounded by lead-glass panes.
The prisms of light make up one of three crystal chandeliers that grace the Ruble House in Okolona: one hangs at the foot of the staircase, one is in the south parlor and the third is in the dining room.
Two of the crystal chandeliers are original to the home, which was built in 1849 by Dr. J. Hal Green. The third chandelier once hung in the childhood home of the current owner, who lived next store to the Ruble House on Prairie Street.
Frances “Sis” Word is a native of Okolona who grew up in the house south of Ruble House, known as the old Chandler home. Word and her husband, Max, bought Ruble House in 1970 from the Ruble family.
Crystal chandeliers are just some of the features in this 147-year-old home. J.L. Ruble, a merchant who moved to Okolona from Corinth, purchased the home from the Greens in 1861, when he reportedly moved his family to the country to escape the ravages of the Civil War.
In 1921, the Rubles renovated the two-story, four room house, turning it into a 12-room house. Downstairs are two formal sitting rooms, a dining room, den, kitchen and breakfast room. Most of these rooms are 15 feet by 15 feet. Upstairs are four bedrooms, a sitting room and a trunk room, where guest used to store their trunks. There are 14-foot ceilings downstairs and 11-foot ceilings on the second floor.
Nine fireplaces that were original to the home remain. Covering each fireplace is the original brass cover, some with images of fairies on them. The fireplace in the dining room has a lead-glass cabinet at the top filled with family treasures. The mantle in the den is tiered and has small shelves.
Transoms, wainscoting and bulls-eye molding can be found throughout the home. The original oak wood floors, which were said to be laid by hobos recruited from the east end of town, still shine.
At the base of the stairway is a Victorian-style light fixture attached to the top of the rail. Also original to the home are several pieces of furniture purchased from the Rubles, including several chairs, the dining table, a settee, an oak bookcase, a handmade china cabinet and several smaller items, such as women’s evening bags and cigarette cases.
Recently Word’s children and grandchildren did a little renovation work of their own on the home, including painting three of the downstairs rooms and leveling the floors in the home. Word said she chose colors that would complement the floor rugs given to her by the Ruble family.
The exterior walls of the house are unique in themselves, she said. The walls are three bricks, or 13 inches, thick. “This is a solid house,” she said. “To level the floor they had to take out one of the fireplaces to get under the house.”
The home was once heated by coal, Word said. Ruble would have coal delivered in a rail car and stored in a coal house that once stood behind the home, which still is heated by radiators. The coal house had to be torn down but several other exterior buildings remain, including a cook’s cottage. This old wooden structure was made into a bath house next to the swimming pool. Despite the antiques and other fine furnishings, Word said Ruble House is a home. “We live all over this house,” she said.