Historic Structures

Building Description Springfield Plantation, Fayette Mississippi

Springfield is a two-story residence with attic and basement, measuring 67 feet 10 inches in length and 55 feet 5 inches in depth. Handmade red brick are laid in Flemish bond on the facade (north elevation) and common bond on the side elevations. Interior chimneys project prominently above each gable of the broken-pitch roof, which on the north slopes to form a portico supported by six columns. The latter are approximations of the Tuscan order and made of triangular-shaped bricks covered with stucco. On the second floor of the portico is a Balustrade of rectangular balusters, its railings inserted into the shafts of the intersecting columns. Fenestration on both floors of the facade is identical: a central doorway with eight-paned transom, flanked by detached side lights with twelve panes each, and four windows symmetrically spaced within the intercolumniation. There are six openings on each side elevation, all of them windows except the door on the first floor east, which appears to have formerly been a window also. A 1934 Historic American Buildings Survey photograph shows 6 over 6 sashes being installed on the side elevations; a number of those which remain in front and rear windows are 12 over 12 and presumably original. Paneled reveals range in depth from 20 inches to 26 inches, and two-part wooden shutters are held open by wrought-iron fasteners attached to blocks of wood set flush into the brick walls. The louvered walls of the second floor rear and sides were enclosed with brick before 1920, and partitioning for three rooms was probably added then also. On the southwest corner of the first floor an outside small frame kitchen was built in the late 1930s and passage between house and kitchen was provided by removing bricks beneath a window in the common wall. An earlier kitchen, also frame, was located approximately 25 feet southeast of the central rear door.

It is not known what other alterations, if any, have been made in the original floor plan. The present layout of the first floor consists of a large central hallway (14 feet by 38 feet 3 inches) flanked by two rooms on the west and three rooms and a stairwell (with rudimentary, winding stair) on the east, all areas being of varying dimensions. The second floor is similar, although the expanse of hallway to the rear is interrupted by the middle room of the three formed by partitioning. The rooms and hallways of the main block total thirteen, whereas it is believed that originally Springfield had eight rooms and two hallways. The interior construction of the house includes yellow poplar and cypress flooring, cypress jambs, and yellow poplar ceiling spans, all of which appear to be original materials. The six-inch boards of the planked celling are laid tongue and groove, and in the attic, beams are joined by the mortise and tenon method and pegged. The crossbars of the "H" type ceiling supports are centered with king posts to which rafters are secured by mortise and tenon. In addition, metal straps are bent around the rafters and bolted to the king posts, a braced peak arrangement which eliminates the need for a ridgepole.

Interior finish, confined to wainscoting, chair rails, baseboards, cornices, and mantelpieces, is unmistakably provincial, yet imaginatively conceived and vigorously executed, a satisfying accent to the massive grace of the house itself. Mantelpieces. reflecting the Adam influence popularized in New England by McIntire and Bulfinch, feature such embellishments as pilasters, paterae, reeding, and grooving, while cornices in the hallway, parlor, and master chamber on the second floor west repeat the gougework patterns from the mantelpieces in a variety of combinations. (Its decorative woodcarving is one factor which suggests that Springfield was built at a later date than 1791, the year the Andrew Jackson-Rachel Robards marriage allegedly took place there. It seems unlikely that the Adamesque mode of interior architecture would have penetrated the Old Southwest a decade prior to its ascendancy in such centers of the au courant as Boston, Salem, and Charleston. On the other hand, it is possible that the woodwork is of a later period than the house itself.)