Friday, February 6, 2009
Ferriday is a town in Concordia Parish in eastern Louisiana, United States. The population, which is three-fourths African American, was 3,723 at the 2000 census.
owntown green space in Ferriday across from Delta Music Museum
Ferriday claims to have produced more famous people per square mile than any other American small town. This statement intrigued author Elaine Dundy who probed that phenomenon while profiling both celebrities and townsfolk in her book, Ferriday, Louisiana, published by E. P. Dutton in 1991.
Downtown Ferriday on August 1, 2008
Ferriday played a role in the promotion of blues music through the Haney's Big House lounge in the African American community. The Delta Music Museum in the downtown historic district is open daily to visitors, many of whom come from out-of-state. It is located next to the restored Arcade Theater. the museum contains exhibits on Ferriday natives, some of whom were blues musicians.
Delta Music Museum in Ferriday's downtown historic district
Ferriday is represented by churches of all major denominations, including a large Pentecostal congregation south of town on U.S. Highway 15 as well as Baptist, Assembly of God, and Presbyterian.
Ferriday welcoming sign on U.S. Highway 15
Ferriday’s Famous Five' includes three piano players and two network journalists
There are many well known people in the world today who came from Ferriday, but the following five made it to the "big time," best described as becoming at least nationally well-known for some particular talent. In other words, when people in big cities and little towns, like ours, know your name, then you've hit the big time.
Three are cousins who sing and play the piano for their living, while one of them also preaches. The other two on Ferriday's famous five list made it big in national television news.
Al Ater, former Louisiana Secretary of State.
Campbell Brown, NBC and CNN news correspondent.
There's another famous Ferridian to add to the list of local folks who have made it in the big time.
Campbell Brown, weekend co-anchor for NBC's Today Show, grew up on Lake Concordia and attended school in Natchez. She's the daughter of Jim Brown and Dale Campbell Fairbanks.
She was formerly the NBC News White House correspondent and has done reports for NBC News broadcasts, including the “Nightly News with Tom Brokaw,” “Today Show,” "Meet the Press," and MSNBC. She has also guest hosted the Today Show on NBC.
Prior to being named White House correspondent, Brown had been part of the NBC News team covering the presidential campaign of Republican candidate George W. Bush. Prior to covering the Bush campaign, Brown had been a Washington, D.C., based NBC News correspondent.
Joining the network in 1998, Brown was first assigned to cover President Clinton’s impeachment trial. After that, she was assigned to the Pentagon, reporting on the war in Kosovo. From 1996-1998 she was a correspondent for the NBC News Channel. During that time, she was also a substitute anchor for the network’s then overnight newscast “NBC Nightside.”
Brown started her career in local news as the political reporter covering Kansas politics for KSNT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Topeka, KS.
James H. "Jim" Brown, Louisiana state senator, secretary of state, insurance commissioner.
General Claire Chennault of Flying Tigers fame was reared in nearby Waterproof.
Noah W. Cross (1908–1976) served as Concordia Parish sheriff from 1944 until 1973, when he resigned after a perjury conviction.
Troyce Guice of Ferriday and later Natchez, Mississippi, ran for the United States Senate in 1966 and 1996.
Dale Houston (1940-2007), whose I'm Leaving It Up To You reached No. 1 in 1963.
Shelby M. Jackson, Superintendent of Education, 1948—1964.
Jerry Lee Lewis, singer,pianist.
Make no mistake about it, Jerry Lee Lewis more than anyone else put our town of Ferriday, Louisiana, on the map.
"The Killer" drew international fame in the 1950s and continues to be known worldwide though he rarely performs these days. He has become much more private, and did not attend his induction into the Delta Museum Hall of Fame last year.
The Killer was born Sept. 29, 1935, and was the first of his cousins -- country singer Mickey Gilley and evangelist Jimmy Swaggart -- to hit it big. As a boy, Lewis said he slipped into Haney's Big House, the famous Ferriday nightclub, and learned a lot about boogie-woogie and blues.
Lewis' interest in the piano began by the time he was five and he performed all over this area as a young man. Most who watched him knew there was something different about this hyper entertainer.
The famous producer Sam Phillips of Memphis first met Lewis in 1956 and at the age of 21, songwriter-producer Jack Clement made a demo recording “The Killer”.
Phillips immediately recognized his talent and his style and in 1957, Lewis released, Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On. It spend 23 weeks on the country charges going to No. 1 and topped out at No. 3 on the pop charts.
His follow up release, Great Balls of Fire, also went No. 1.
Lewis' career suffered a nose-dived when in Great Britain in 1958 it was discovered that his new wife was his 13 year-old cousin, Myra Gale Brown. His record sales dropped out and he returned to the U.S.
But Jerry Lee has never been a quitter. He regained a loyal following and was back on top in the mid-1960s. Other musicians and entertainers worshiped the Killer. He was an idol of the Beatles. His piano-style is often imitated.
In 1989, actor Randy Quaid portrayed Lewis in the motion picture, "Great Balls of Fire," which once again gave Ferriday attention as a few writers descended on the town. Lewis was included in a charter group of musicians inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.
In 1993 Jerry Lee wrote and published his autobiography, "Killer," with author Charles White.
Lewis owns a ranch in Nesbit, Miss., and owns a piano shaped like a swimming pool.
Rickey L. Nowlin is a freshman Republican member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Natchitoches Parish.
Daniel Wesley "Dan" Richey, former State Senator.
Fred L. Schiele (1933-2002), Concordia Parish sheriff from 1973-1980
Howard K. Smith, CBS and ABC commentator and anchorman; Howard K. Smith: News and Comment (1962-1963)
The late Howard Kingsbury Smith, a major news force for CBS and ABC News for years, was born in Ferriday May 12, 1914, just over a decade after the town was founded by the railroad. His father was a railroad man.
The family left Ferriday when Smith was a child, settling in New Orleans. There, Smith first entered journalism as a newspaper reporter for the New Orleans Item. He earned a scholarship to Tulane University and moved to Europe for a post-graduate stint at Heidelberg University in Germany.
The Cable News Network outlined Smith's reporting career as follows:
For 40 years, Smith was one of the major names in broadcast news. He began as a CBS radio correspondent from Berlin, Germany, and later moved to other outposts in Europe.
Eventually, he turned to television, first as a European correspondent, later as a commentator and documentary narrator. In 1960, he moderated the first debate between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. The debate, one of the most widely viewed television programs of its time, is believed to have contributed to Kennedy's election later that year.
In 1940, he joined the United Press news agency, reporting from Copenhagen, Denmark, before transferring to Berlin, Germany.
In 1941, Smith was hired by CBS as a Berlin correspondent and became part of the group of wartime correspondents -- others included Eric Sevareid, Daniel Schorr and William L. Shirer -- gathered by Edward R. Murrow. With his reports under heavy scrutiny by the Nazis, he decided to leave Berlin for Switzerland. He arrived on December 7, 1941, just as Japan was attacking Pearl Harbor, halfway across the world.
He wrote about his experiences in a 1942 bestseller, Last Train from Berlin: An Eyewitness Account of Germany at War.
In 1946 Smith succeeded Murrow as CBS's London correspondent. He covered Europe and the Middle East for CBS until 1957, when he came to Washington as a correspondent and commentator on the network's nightly TV newscast.
In 1961, Murrow asked Smith to go to Birmingham, Alabama, to finish a documentary on the racial unrest rocking the region at the time. He arrived as the Freedom Riders were approaching town.
"The head of the (local) KKK phoned me while I was having lunch in a hotel," Smith told the Naples (Florida) Daily News in 2001. " He said, 'You want action, we've got action.' "
Not long after, Smith watched as local ruffians beat the Freedom Riders in the Birmingham bus station. For the commentary at the end of the report, Smith quoted philosopher Edmund Burke: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
The quote was cut from the program because Smith's bosses regarded it as editorializing. CBS Chairman William S. Paley backed the executives over Smith, who resigned.
"They said it was against the rules to take sides on a controversial issue," Smith said in the 2001 interview. " I said, 'I wish you had told me that during World War II, when I took sides against Hitler.' "
Smith joined ABC News soon after as a correspondent and occasional anchor. Smith generated criticism at ABC for a report in 1962 about Richard Nixon, in which an interview was featured with Alger Hiss, a possible spy whose conviction for perjury helped launch Nixon's national career.
In 1969 he became co-anchor with Frank Reynolds of "The ABC Evening News," then two years later was joined at the ABC anchor desk by his former CBS colleague Harry Reasoner.
Smith backed the Vietnam War and supported Vice President Spiro Agnew's shots at the news media. He was in President Nixon's good graces for these stances, but called for Nixon's resignation as evidence pointed to the president's involvement in the Watergate scandal.
In 1975, Smith relinquished his co-anchor role and remained as a commentator. He resigned in 1979 from ABC after denouncing a newscast format featuring four anchors --Peter Jennings, Max Robinson, Frank Reynolds and Barbara Walters.
Smith appeared in several movies, including "The Candidate" (1972), "Nashville" (1975), "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1982).
He published his memoir, Events Leading Up to My Death: The Life of a Twentieth-Century Reporter, in 1996.
In his storied career, Smith won several awards, including a Peabody and an Emmy.
Jimmy Lee Swaggart, evangelist.
Some say that of the famous cousins, Jimmy Lee Swaggart is by far the most talented. Those who heard him sing during the 2003 Delta Music Festival’s just might agree.
His voice has a rich, soulful sound, which seems to continue to improve with age and his fingers make beautiful sounds come from the piano. Swaggart is a charismatic person and although he has endured scandals and has been the target of some major hate campaigns; he has never stopped, as he would say, "serving the Lord."
Born in Ferriday on March 15, 1935, Swaggart was gracious and accommodating at last year's music festival. But he is most at home either behind the pulpit or behind the piano. He preaches an old-time religion and his sermons are Holy Ghost-filled. While his sermons can be spellbinding, when he's ministering behind the piano there is often not a dry eye in the house.
His first formal practice of religion began in the Assembly of God Church in Ferriday and from there he went on to preaching from the street, in tents, and in country churches. Eventually, he would fill major auditoriums and civic arenas.
In time he built the 7,200-seat Family Worship Center on the 270-acre site of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries in Baton Rouge. While scandals lost him followers, he has slowly rebuilt the church and now is on the radio nationally and back on television on a few stations on Sunday morning. His son, Donnie, often preaches nowadays and Swaggart's congregation is made up of all races.
His gospel albums continue to move people spiritually. It's estimated that he has sold more than 13 million albums worldwide. He's recorded 50 albums.
Ann Boyar Warner, Hollywood hostess.
Leon "Pee Wee" Whittaker, African American trombonist born near Newellton in Tensas Parish
Mickey Leroy Gilley Singer and Songwriter
Mickey Gilley continues to entertain in Branson, MO, and other locales and seems to thoroughly enjoy his visits home to Ferriday when time allows.
Born March 9, 1936, the 67-year-old entertainer left town at 17, worked bars in Houston and recorded Tell Me Why in 1953. He eventually found regional and then national success in Houston.
In 1971, he opened Gilley's nightclub there, and continued to record. He hit it big in 1974 with the recording, Room Full of Roses which zoomed to the top of the country charts. Other big songs for Gilley included, I Overlooked An Orchid, Don't The Girls All Get Prettier At Closing Time, and Stand By Me, which he sang in Urban Cowboy, an enormously successful movie starring John Travolta and a mechanical bull. The movie was set in Gilley's.
Gilley's club was so successful that it was extended to hold 3,500 customers, the population of Ferriday. His partner in the club owned the patent for the famous mechanical bull and made a fortune by selling them to other clubs.
Gilley himself remains a fun-loving, gregarious individual. He thoroughly enjoys entertaining and it's obvious he enjoys being around people.
Ferriday, Louisiana by Elaine Dundy
Jim McDermott's portrait of Elaine Dundy
"After the highly entertaining biographical sections comes the author's account of the characters and curiosities of present day Ferriday - the finale to perhaps the most riveting volume ever published on a Louisiana community." - Paul F. Stahl, Louisiana Living
Writing biographies of the actor Peter Finch who grew up in Sydney, Australia and Elvis who grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, I saw time and again that they would have been very different people had they been born elsewhere. I saw that we are all creatures of our environment: our background is our foreground. So I began looking for a town itself that merited a biography. To my surprise it was an infinitesimal dot on the banks of the Mississippi in Louisiana. Through its population has never exceeded 5,000, it claims to have produced in its short history more famous people per square mile than any other town in the country.
Howard K Smith
There was Howard K. Smith, a Rhodes scholar and newscaster during the Golden Age of television, which includes Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow, who was born in Ferriday, and spent his childhood there. He would take a leading role in reporting the earth shattering events of World War II and moderate the first televised Kennedy/Nixon debate in the 1960s and later, the first of the Reagan/Carter debates.
General Claire Chennault
There was General Claire Chennault, World War II hero who lived before the war on Ferriday's Lake St. John, over which he perfected his pilots in the famous Flying Tiger formation which was used in China to defeat the Japanese air force in the 1936 war with China.
Jimmy Lee Swaggart
Jerry Lee Lewis
And then there were The Three Cousins, born six months apart, all with great musical and histrionic talent: Jimmy Swaggart, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley, each a groundbreaker of his time. One thing extraordinary about them is how they perfectly embody the mythic figures coming to mind when we conjure up Crazy Rock Star (Jerry Lee Lewis), Fallen Preacher (Jimmy Swaggart) and Easy Going Country Singer (Mickey Gilley), as they live out their symbolic lives.
Fast forward - later on a deeper level I saw that all these men seemingly secure in their achievements found that fate had dealt them a blow which knocked them off their pedestals. It was as if they were chosen by the gods only to be abandoned by them. Howard K. Smith in a choice spot in prime time on CBS came to a parting of ways with the powerful head of the network and left. He was in limbo for a while until ABC signed him up. In 1936, Chennault, 43, at the lowest point in his life - half deaf and a chain smoker, landed in the hospital with a severe case of bronchitis. Over age for the Army he quit and considered becoming a farmer. Out of the blue he was invited by Madam Chiang Kai scek who heard of his spectacular barnstorming performances with his Flying Tiger formation and commissioned him, to fly to China and reorganize her air force to fight in Japan's war against. it.
Jimmy Swaggart, arguably the most popular, world renowned televangelist in the '80s, was caught in a shattering scandal with the discovery of his alliance with a prostitute. He struggled back up via a TV, tearful, apology, "I have sinned" to his church who kicked him out anyway.
Back in '58, Jerry Lee, was second only to Elvis in popularity. When Elvis was drafted it was thought Jerry Lee would become the new King. England welcomed him as such with a red carpet on his arrival in the spring of that year. When it came out that he had married his thirteen year old cousin Myra, there was an outcry. Members of Parliament freely gave their opinions, the Home Office joined in, concerts were cancelled and Jerry Lee and Myra left England. For Jerry Lee, the bottom of his career fell out. He said it was to remain so for ten years before he once again won over a public.
Mickey Gilley who owned the famous Gilley's, a nightclub outside Houston where the film Urban Cowboy was set, woke up one day to find that his partner was mishandling the funds and Mickey closed it down. For good measure his record company CBS/Epic told him they were no longer interested in him. The wheel turned. In '88, with a new record company he went to Branson, Missouri, in Ozark Mountain country It's theme park there calls itself "the live country music capital of the world." Of the 22 theatres there one of them is Mickey Gilley's Family Theater.
As Alexis de Toqueville 19th century French observer famously said, "The strength of the (American) people was mainly to be attributed to the superiority of their women." It is as true now as then, and I welcomed the opportunity of writing herstory as well as histories. With this in mind, I was beginning to see more and more shining examples of what he meant. In this book I at least had the opportunity to write herstory as well as history. The more I delved into this town the richer, sturdier and more variety of Steel Magnolias I turned up. One figure of its past stood out.
Leona Sumrall & Mother
She was a 17 year old evangelist of great courage traveling around the South and nightly asking God's guidance for where to build a church. One night he spoke to her and in words that ring with legendary force, said: 'I have some jewels in Ferriday, valuable treasures unnoticed by the world. But if you have patience, they will come forth.'
And though she knew it was a wicked town renowned for its regular stabbings and shootings, she obeyed.
She did it the hard way, pounding the pavement, calling on people to come to her meetings, so that at the end of the day her feet were bloodied. She wore a trailing white dress in her peregrinations and succeeded in establishing the Assembly of God Church and set not a few sinners on the righteous path. Why was she not initially detained for disturbing the peace? Her respectable mother (in the same white costume) came too! Was she a modern Joan of Arc, voices and all? One wonders how St. Joan's trial would have turned if she'd brought her mother along too.
In contemporary times the women I got to know opened up the everyday world to me that I hadn't seen for many years. In the past, married to a high profile, much sought-after drama critic, Kenneth Tynan, it seemed to me I knew only celebrities and no people. It was dazzling, it was delightful, but it was limiting. the public figures were always on show; even their private lives were lived with applause. In being with Ferridians, and seeing them cope with their everyday chores and pleasures, I picked up, truth to say, tips on living. Like draughts of fresh spring water, it slacked my thirst.
To chose at random, Blanche Chauvin, in her nineties, mother of eight, "joined everything in sight" including the Auxiliary American Legion, charter member of the Methodist Church, Eastern Star and the Garden Club. And - this is what I like - whenever the brood became unmanageable, she simply popped all of them in the car and drove around until they quitted down. Blanche was chosen Louisiana Mother of the Year in 1979. The prize was a week in Hollywood. She loved it.
Anne Boyer Warner
So did Ann Boyar, whose rise from a pretty little schoolgirl with a father who owned the first storefront movie house in town to the beautiful wife of Hollywood mogul Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, to international society hostess and art and interior design expert was breathtaking. Salvador Dali painted her portrait. And couturier, Pierre Valman named his perfume Jolie madam in her honor.
Frankie Terrell, Jerry Lee's sister, did not leave town. Married with five children she says, "I am glued to this town. I can't imagine leaving this place. I can't help it. Yeah, I mean it's too much to say you're glued to this place, but I am." She does her household chores by candlelight in bright daytime. When ironing, she will eye the candle; when it has burned down to a certain level, she will blow it out and take a break. When rested, she will light the candle and go back to work again. It is her way of freeing herself the despotism of the clock.
I met the late Mrs. U. B. Evans when she was 95 and , in her last years, blind. She was the most respected person in Ferriday and ruled it from her telephone. (It's wonderful how much elderly citizens are cherished.) A horticulturist and archaeologist, she had lived on her plantation Haphazard, for some fifty years. Daily involved with things useful as well as beautiful, like planting pear trees. I see I cannot do her justice in this short introduction, but to me she was a beacon of light.
Hiram Gregory, a Professor of Anthropology, a protege of Mrs. Evans, who wrote the definitive book on the historic Indian tribes of Louisiana, gave me the best answer as to why Ferridians are so colorful and larger than life. "Both Ferridians and the rest of Southerners are colorful because their parents and grandparents were. It's their way of defending themselves in the family situation."
I learned about barbers in the community and why they became mayors, sheriffs and preachers.
Austin Wilson, conversationalist supreme provides what may be the town's credo: "We was raised an independent people. We didn't have to follow any leadership, if you had the anxiety or the desire to do anything, well it was up to you to do it. Nobody seemed to block you way."
Finally it should be said, from earliest days, Ferriday has been a culturally complex community of Jews, Italians, Chinese, Afro-Americans and white Protestants. It is a town where back-country Fundamentalism continually clashes with free-and-easy Mississippi morality.
Ferriday today: Campbell Brown, born and raised in Ferriday, now co-anchor of the nation's top rated weekend new program: NBC's "Today", Weekend Edition. She is a good example of a Ferridian Going Forth. A personable, smart and attractive figure, unlike many anchors she never seems to stay on long enough for us to admire her.
After my book cam out the Ferriday Music Museum was started by its Chief Librarian, Amanda Taylor featuring the three cousins. It is now expanded to the Delta State Museum with it's hall of Fame including all outstanding musicians in Louisiana. The opening in 2002 was attended by thousands.
Complements of The Concordia Sentinel
By the late Bea Nathanson
In the fall of 1903-- a century ago -- the first surveyor's stake was driven into the cotton field that was to become the site of Ferriday.
This particular site had been selected as the location for a roundhouse and railroad terminal, and from this small industry a town was to arise.
In The Beginning
We began Ferriday's history with Benjamin Smith, a congregational minister, who settled in New Orleans in 1776. One of his sons, Calvin Smith, found his way to Adams County in Mississippi, across the river from what was later to become Concordia Parish.
Calvin Smith had one son and seven daughters. Two of the daughters married Ferridays -- Joe and William. The latter William Ferriday is the one whose history is bound up with Ferriday.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana Purchase had been made by the United States, and a portion of land on Lake Concordia was in possession of the Ferriday family.
By 1827, the plantation was being operated by J.C. Ferriday, who had come South after his first wife died and in 1868 had married his second wife, Annie Hyde Pendleton of Natchez. They had five children.
Originally Helena Plantation
Mr. Ferriday died in 1894, and Mrs. Ferriday moved to Natchez. Helena Plantation, as it had come to be known, was sold to the Farm Land Company.
A year later, in 1895, the plantation was sold to the Southern Land company, and by 1903 it was in the hands of still a third company -- the Realty Investment Company.
For a number of years, Helena had been a flag stop for the shipment of cotton and other native products. The post office, however, was located at Hulda, two miles away.
The Texas and Pacific Railroad and the Memphis, Helena and Louisiana Railroad (later Missouri Pacific) set up their workshops in 1903 and 1904. They asked the Realty Investment Company to survey the land for a town, and this survey was begun in 1903.
Robert Calhoun, in his History of Concordia Parish, says the town was laid out on parts of Sections 27, 28, 29 and 57 in Township 8N, R. 9E. He says Section 57 had been a Spanish grant confirmed to Jonathan Tompson, and the other sections had been public lands.
The town was to have been named Helena after the plantation, but this was too confusing because there was already a railroad town -- Helena, AR -- so a new name was selected -- Ferriday.
Finally on Oct. 24, 1906, Governor Newton Crain Blanchard proclaimed Ferriday an incorporated village.
T.H. Johnston was appointed the first mayor. The first election was held in April 1907, and H.S. Jackson became the first elected mayor.
Mr. Roman Miller was granted the first lot in the new town. He later built a small frame grocery store and home on this grant. His grandson, the late Miller McDougald of Clayton, became a well-known mystery storywriter who spent some time in Hollywood, Calif.
The first lot in the new town was purchased by H.C. Sevier. Other lots were bought by Thomas H. Johnston, W.H. Worsham, B.C. Brown and James W. Harper, Leopold Godchaux, Henry Godchaux, Herman Kahn, James C. Cochran, Luther Fields, L.C. Levee, Joseph and Tony Brocato, D.B. Fleming, Dr. Truman Reeves and Dr. A. J. Hodges.
Still other early setters listed by Calhoun were A.J. and L.H. Brothers, J.E. Ormbsy, the Pasternacks, A.B. Hagle, M.M. Perkins, P.H. Corbett and Mr. and Mrs. John C. King.
A boxcar was placed at a convenient place within the town limits for a depot, and a Mr. Young was appointed depot agent. A Mr. Harper, employed by the Texas and Pacific as an engineer, built the first house in town.
In 1905, Mr. Sevier built a small frame hotel. By that time there were 30 residences and eight stores. After the village was incorporated in 1906, a small one-room schoolhouse was built on the lower town limits. It was here that Miss Corinne Hutchinson (later Mrs. J.T. Reeves) taught six children.
In the same year, 1906, the Missouri Pacific built an 18-stall roundhouse, other edifices and the depot that now stands on First Street. Mr. A.B. Crothers was agent.
In 1908, the Ferriday Bank was founded by a group of citizens. D.B. Fleming was named cashier. (He later was to become state senator). The bank ran under the charter of the Bank of Ferriday until it was consolidated with the Vidalia Bank & Trust Company and is now the Concordia Bank & Trust Company.
Ferriday had hardly gotten started before the great fire of 1908 destroyed all but one house within a square block. This was a great loss because the owners carried little if any insurance.
A second fire gutted another block of buildings adjoining the earlier destroyed block.
A third fire in 1916 swept the black section of town out of existence and destroyed a large portion of the white section -- demolishing 80 houses in all.
Then, 10 years later, in 1926, on the night of January 14th, a blaze started in the Johnson Hotel on First Street and took the entire block with a heavy loss of life and property.
Eight persons were found burned to death and many more were injured. The hotel guests were trapped on the second floor, and those who were not burned to death were injured in jumping from the burning inn.
But Ferriday rebuilt once again, and new industries moved in. A new $150,000 compress warehouse complex was built, and a new $50,000 school. J.M. Jones Lumber Company sold 14 acres to the Interstate Natural Gas Line Company for a $150,000 pumping station.
Other early industries, in addition to Jones Lumber, included Fisher-Hurd mills, the Ferriday Cooperage Mill, the Ferriday Hoop Mill, the Big Alexander Brothers Mill at Red Gum and the Utley-Holloway Mill at Clayton.
Ferriday was on its way to being a town.
Haney’s Big House
Complements of The Concordia Sentinel
By Stanley Nelson
In the 1940s and 1950s, there was no place more famous in Ferriday then a boogie-woogie nightclub on the 500 block of Fourth Street (now E.E. Wallace Blvd.) known as Haney's Big House.
Bluesmen like B.B. King of the Mississippi Delta and others came to town and honed their craft before they became internationally famous, while hundreds would come from miles around to listen, drink, eat, dance and have a good time.
Jerry Lee Lewis claimed to sneak into the nightclub when he was a boy to watch some of the top black musicians in the country stroke the piano. With fame, his stories of Haney's drew the attention of music writers from across the country.
At Haney's he learned much about the boogie-woogie style, which by dictionary definition is "a style of piano jazz using a dotted bass pattern, usually with eight notes in a bar and the harmonies of the 12-bar blues." In other words, when there's boogie-woogie playing you will at the least tap your feet.
Even the big bands of the era would find their way to the little town of Ferriday to entertain the crowds.
As a young boy, James Watkins began cutting hair at his grandfather's barbershop. George Jackson operated Jackson's Barber Shop and young James used to cut Will Haney's hair.
"When I first knew him, Mr. Haney was an insurance salesman," Watkins, 76, remembers. "He used to walk the streets in those days selling insurance."
Haney started selling insurance not long after returning to Ferriday after World War I. He served in the Army and was sent to France, where he earned the rank of first sergeant.
He represented People's Life Insurance of New Orleans, selling life and accident policies. Haney was so good in the business that he was able to deal with top company officials only, never supervisors.
Watkins said during the floods of 1930s and 1940s, many of Haney's policyholders were unable to work. Haney traveled to New Orleans and told the company that he would not allow his customers' policies to lapse due to the flood.
The company honored Haney's demand. As Haney went on to other things, he turned the insurance business over to a relative.
Haney’s Big House
In time, Haney opened a barbecue joint, which featured a dirt floor and paneled walls that ran halfway up the building. Above the wall to the ceiling was a screen.
"He had a good barbecue business there," remembers Watkins. "He always had a pot of coffee made and you could get a real good hamburger there. Later on, he went to making money."
By the late 1930s, Haney, who Watkins described as a good businessman, built a barroom at the same location, called the place Haney's, and created what would become a legend -- Haney's Big House.
"It was a nice size place, and when he started making money on it, he enlarged it, and that's when it got the name Haney's Big House. Before that it was Haney's Night Club," remembers Watkins.
The business featured "good home cooking," says Watkins. "He always had two or three cooks on duty and he stayed opened 24-hours-day, seven days a week. He closed twice that I remember -- once when his mother died and when his brother died."
After enlarging the business, the bluesmen of the Mississippi Delta and the jazzmen of New Orleans began making trips to Ferriday to play at Haney's. The big bands would come, too, and the dances would draw hundreds.
"The dance would start at 10 o'clock and after a while they'd take an intermission for 15 or 20 minutes and then play again until 2 in the morning," Watkins said. "That's when the dance was over."
But the party would continue all night, Watkins said.
There were times when the place would be so crowded "that you could hardly walk by on the street."
Plus, there were other bars lining the street, says Watkins -- Sam Brocato had a joint he ran with his mother and father, Winder Houston had a place and John Smith, among others, had a club.
But Haney's Big House stood out.
Haney's had two entrances, both facing Fourth Street. When entering the door on the south side of the building there was a bar to the left. The open kitchen was in the middle of the building towards the front, surrounded by a square bar where patrons could sit on one of the 20 or so stools and dine.
The building had heat in the winter, and was cooled in the summer by two large fans placed in the walls. In later years, the place was air-conditioned.
Past the kitchen was the entertainment area. When there were no dances scheduled, pool tables were located near the kitchen. The tables could be moved out of the building when entertainment was booked.
About 50 tables with four chairs each were stationed in the entertainment area. The bandstand was against the back wall. When musicians were performing, patrons would book a table in advance. Watkins said all of the tables were usually sold out two days before the event.
Slot machines, at one time legal, were also in the building. And in the back area, petitioned off, was a table for various games of poker. When there was a game on, the big spenders would come from every direction.
"When they had a card game people would come from Texas and as far as West Memphis, AR," said Watkins. "The players had money and sported diamonds and had bodyguards. They'd sit around the table with a couple of thousand dollars in front of them."
There were no arguments. If a player went to the bathroom, not a soul would touch his money because although not always identified, the bodyguards were everywhere and ready to pounce on anyone who would mess with the bosses' cash.
It took thousands of dollars to get into these games, which would begin at 10 in the morning. Players would take a break at 2 p.m., return at 4 to 6 p.m. and play into the night, but rarely all night. The games would always draw spectators.
Sometimes Haney would join a game.
Gambling of all forms, legal or not, was part of the era.
"Everything was wide open then," said Watkins.
And with all this commerce going on in the place, Haney, always the entrepreneur, sold tickets for the Trailsways bus line. Haney's Big House was the bus stop.
As a man, Haney stood about 5-11 and weighed around 200 pounds. He was not an imposing figure, but he was usually in a serious frame of mind.
"He was a real gentlemen," Watkins said. "A real nice guy."
But he was a businessman, and business came first. If there was work to be done, Haney was doing it or seeing to it that it was getting done. In later years, Watkins said Haney would work from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon and had other people operate the bar when he wasn't there.
"He paid himself first on payday," said Watkins.
At its heyday, Haney's employed as many as 15 people on busy nights. Haney needed cooks, bartenders, waitresses, waiters and bouncers.
A man named Roosevelt and another named Harry Tatum were two bartenders Watkins remembers. Haney's brother, Victor, worked part-time at the club. His main job was at The Concordia Sentinel.
"Victor was the bouncer," remembers Watkins. "He walked around the club with brass knuckles and he knew how to use them. But his job at the Sentinel with Mr. Percy Rountree was his main job."
Bertha Patterson worked for Haney, and Mary Metcalf managed a washteria owned by Haney and sometimes worked at the club, says Watkins.
With the success of Haney's Big House, Haney in later years built a two-story motel, Haney's Motel, behind the club. When the big bands came, they, and other black musicians, would stay there.
Roy Brown, a jazzman from New Orleans, would play at the club at night and then stay over in the motel so he could go fishing the next day.
When the club was really hopping, Watkins estimated that 300 to 400 people would be inside and spilling out onto the streets.
Haney lived on Fifth Street in a brick house that still stands. He operated the laundromat across the street and owned rental property in town.
He was born in Vidalia, and was in his 50s by the time Haney's Big House was rocking.
"He didn't have too much time for fun," remembers Watkins. "He was all business just about all of the time. But sometimes he would sit down and have a drink. He didn't drink often, but when he did with some of his friends, he could tie one on."
People who knew Haney well called him by his nickname: "House," born through the popularity of his club -- Haney's Big House.
Haney's wife name was Lillie. He had only one daughter, Willie, who went to college in North Carolina.
"He sent her to an all-girls school," says Watkins. "For some reason he didn't want her to go to a coed school."
Willie married and has lived in Missouri most of her adult life.
Haney's home on Fifth Street was left to his granddaughter, Willie's child.
As for Watkins, who was obviously born with a keen memory, he left Ferriday for the Army in San Francisco and returned home to Ferriday in October of 1972. In the 1960s, Watkins father operated a dry cleaners and grocery store on the same block as Haney's.
"I forget the year Mrs. Haney died, but their daughter came for the funeral," said Watkins. "That's the last time I saw her."
Willie and Watkins graduated together in 1945.
Destroyed By Fire
The glory years of Haney's Big House spanned about two decades before a fire destroyed the entire block in 1966. Haney's property burned to the ground, as did the dry cleaners and grocery store belonging to Watkins' father.
Haney never rebuilt the place and as each year passed the fun times at Haney's Big House became faded memories for many, but remain vivid in the mind of James Watkins.
Haney became ill during the late '60s and as his health began to fail him, old age began to wear on him and he died.
As a black man during a different era, Haney made a mark for himself in Ferriday that can only be equaled, probably never surpassed. As a businessman, he was successful, operating a nightclub, a motel, a washateria, rental properties and he managed other business interests.
Ferriday, thanks to Haney's Big House, was part of a music scene that continues to dominate the culture today. Blues, jazz, big band, rock-n-roll, boogie-woogie all breathed and lived inside the confines of an establishment built by a man who once walked the streets of Ferriday selling insurance door-to-door.
Situated on a 531-acre plantation located west of the Mississippi River and east of Lake St.
John, Canebrake is protected from the Mississippi River by a levee which is located about 150 feet in front of the house. The one-and-a-half story, frame, vernacular dwelling is set upon high brick foundation piers, and its gable roof is pierced by one, inside-end, stuccoed-brick chimney at each gable end. The five-bay easterly facade is fronted by a gallery located under the broken front slope of the roof. The gallery is supported by wooden box columns with molded capitals that are echoed on the front wall by pilasters. The columns and pilasters are linked by a railing of rectangularsectioned balusters with molded handrail. A wide, single flight of wooden steps leads to the centerbay entrance doorway. The entrance doorway consists of a pair of double-leaf, folding doors that are six-paneled and molded with the uppermost panels of each door having been glazed in the 20th century. The rear doorway is filled with a pair of double-leaf, folding doors that are three-paneled
with the uppermost panels also glazed. The rear doorway features a sidelight on only the southern side of the door encasement. The windows of the house contain nine-over-six, double-hung sash and are closed by original shutter blinds on the facade.
The floor plan of the house is a double-pile plan with wide central passage. The door
surrounds and baseboards of the hallway are plain and unmolded. The four rooms of the main floor are identically trimmed with architrave door and window surrounds, four-paneled doors that are molded on the hallway side only, and simply beaded bases. The front two rooms also feature matching, wooden pilastered mantel pieces.
Since it original construction cat 1840, Canebrake has undergone two remodelings. As
originally constructed Canebrake was a raised cottage with wide, open, central passage that featured a single-pile plan with "cabinet" rooms enclosing each end of the rear gallery. About 1850 to 1860, the rear "cabinet" rooms were enlarged and new millwork installed throughout the interior of the house, the central open passage was enclosed and extended to include the original rear gallery,
a new gallery with "cabinet" rooms was added across the rear, and brick infill was used between the supporting piers on the southern half of the house to form pantry or storage rooms lighted by unglazed windows with metal bars.
After Canebrake was purchased by the Meserve family in 1910, the upstairs was finished into two bedrooms with a central passage, a large shed-roof dormer was added to the front slope of the roof, and a stairway was installed to connect the upper and lower hallways. The stairway, which features rectangular-sectioned balusters and a newel of clustered balusters, runs in an easterly direction along the southern hallway wall in a single, straight flight. A small frame hyphen was also
added at the southwest corner of the rear of the house, and the southern end of the front gallery was sympathetically enclosed with the columns and railing left intact.
Numerous plantation outbuildings are located within the nominated property. In the rear yard of the house, at the southwest corner, is a shed-roof, frame chicken house and, at the northwest corner, is a 20th-century frame garage. To the rear of the yard of the house is the "quarter lot" which contains five remaining double slave cabins. The slave cabins are one-story, gabled-roof frame buildings with central chimneys, undercut galleries, and unglazed glazed, shuttered windows. A gabled-roof, frame barn is located north of the house and beyond the barn in a northerly direction is an additional double slave cabin that was relocated from the "quarter lot."
The five mounds are dome-shaped. The largest, Mound 2, measures 25 x 20 m at base and
80 cm in height from the modern surface. The remaining mounds average 20 x 20 m at the base and 40-50 cm in height from the modern surface. Auger probes in the plaza determined that the occupational surface (and submound surface) of the site is covered with approximately 1 m of alluvium. Thus, approximately 1 m should be added to the height of each mound, making the largest mound ca. 1.8 m high (the exact relationship of the mounds to the alluvium was not established by site testing, however).
The auger testing identified the village midden throughout the plaza area, extending to each mound and south of U.S. Highway 84. The total midden deposit covers approximately 4 acres.
Shovel tests identified midden deposits associated with Mounds 1 through 5. Test units in Mounds 1, 2, and 5 encountered submound middens at the same depth as the buried midden deposit in the plaza, thus establishing that the mounds and village midden are directly associated. Shovel and auger tests demonstrated that artifacts are distributed throughout the village midden.
Two radiocarbon dates were obtained from submound midden deposits beneath Mound 1 and
Mound 2. The two intercepts are ca. A.D. 745 and A.D. 880 respectively (Cusick et al. 1995:11-27). Pottery (Coles Creek Incised var. Phillips, Marsden, Wade, Churupa Punctated var. Thornton, Mulberry Creek Cord Marked var. Smith Creek) from the submound midden of Mound 1 suggest a middle (to late?) Coles Creek occupation, which overlaps nicely with the radiometric date. Ceramics (Marksville Incised var. Anglim, Marksville Stamped var. Bayou Rouge) from the midden beneath Mound 2 suggest an earlier Baytown/Troyville occupation of ca. A.D. 500-600, or approximately 200
years earlier than the C14 date. Ceramics from midden/mound fill in Mounds 1 and 2 also document an early/middle Coles Creek occupation of the site.
DePrato Mounds is an exceptional site because of the 1 m of alluvium that covers, isolates, and protects the village midden deposit from post-occupation disturbance. At DePrato Mounds, it is reasonable to expect the full range of activities associated with the daily life of the mound builders to be preserved in the buried village midden.
Ferriday Commercial Historic District
The twenty-three buildings which comprise the Ferriday Commercial Historic District
represent the historic portion of the only surviving commercial center within the large rural parish of Concordia. The district consists of one and two story masonry commercial buildings located within a roughly two block area west of the town's railroad corridor. Contributing elements range in date between c.1905 and c.1940. Boundaries were drawn to include all structures within the central business district which retain sufficient historic character while excluding other buildings which have
lost their integrity or date to after the historic period. The district has a low non-contributing rate of only nine percent.
All of the district's buildings stand flush to adjacent sidewalks, and approximately threefourths are connected by party walls. As a result, most mass closely together along the streets, with only a few gaps between structures. The majority of the buildings in the district are uniformly simple, flat-roofed structures with restrained decorative detailing, mostly in the form of molded brick architraves across parapets. Transom windows and canopies are also prominent features. Finally,
Italianate segmentally arched windows are found above the shopfronts on all but one of the district's seven, two-story structures.
All 50+ year old buildings which retain sufficient integrity are considered contributing elements for the purpose of this submission.
There are only two non-contributing elements in the district. These include one modern building and one historic building whose post-fire remodeling may not be fifty years old.
Breakdown of Buildings by Date:
Where possible, buildings were dated using Sanborn Fire Insurance Company Maps (1923,
1926, 1938). Otherwise, a circa date was given based upon the architectural evidence.
Breakdown by Date
Between 1923 and 1926 8
Between 1926 and c.1940 7
Killarney (c. 1855) is a one-story, frame, Greek Revival style cottage located in rural Concordia Parish. It stands upon approximately four acres situated across State Highway 569 from Lake St. John (an ox-bow lake of the Mississippi River).
Although previous owners have estimated the home=s construction date to fall between 1835 and 1855, the architectural evidence (see below) points to a date between 1850 and 1860. Thus, a date of c. 1855 will be used for the purposes of this nomination.
Although the house has received alterations over the years, it retains its National Register eligibility. Killarney is a five-bay galleried cottage which is raised approximately three feet on brick piers. Its exterior Greek Revival motifs include square gallery posts and matching corner boards, all of which feature molded Doric capitals; a simple entablature outlining the gallery roof; and a front entrance
highlighted by a transom, sidelights and door surround with a pediment shaped lintel and shoulder molding. The original rear entrance also has a transom and sidelights but lacks the specific Greek Revival characteristics found surrounding the entrance on the facade. Four aedicule style mantels comprise Killarney's interior Greek Revival details of importance. These are composed of pilasters (with simple
bases and capitals) which support a broad entablature surmounted by a simply molded mantel shelf. The molding profiles found on these mantels were popular in Louisiana during the 1850s. Although not specifically associated with the Greek Revival style, the house also has numerous four panel doors typicalof the period. The window surrounds feature a very simple molding pattern and the tall baseboards are somewhat primitive in appearance. An interesting feature is the home's pegged construction, which can be viewed in the unfinished attic. The floorplan features two rooms on each side of a wide center hall.
Alterations to Killarney since its construction include the following:
1) the enclosure of the home=s original rear gallery and the later construction of a utility room at one rear corner of this space, the installation of beaded board ceilings in the two front rooms, and the addition of closets in the two rooms used as bedrooms,
2) the removal of two of the building=s four chimneys and the covering of the sides and rear elevation with asbestos shingles, and
3) a 1996 restoration/renovation which added a staircase (leading to the unfinished attic), a powder room (beneath the stairs), and two fiberglass ceiling medallions to the central hall.
At this time built-in display shelves were also added to two parlor walls and molded
cornices were placed in each of the original interior spaces. The enclosed rear gallery was also remodeled at this time; it now contains a modern kitchen, breakfast room and bath.
Although the installation of the asbestos shingles to the sides and rear is regrettable because it removes the horizontal lines of the clapboards which characterized the home's historic exterior, Killarney's Greek Revival facade and mantelpieces remain true to their c. 1855 appearance. Thus the features (pedimented and shoulder-molded entrance, Doric pillars and corner boards, and the abovementioned
mantels) which make the home Greek Revival and contribute to its architectural significance survive intact. Because buildings exhibiting marks of high-style design are extremely rare locally, Killarney is a noteworthy Concordia Parish landmark.
Three outbuildings stand on the property surrounding Killarney. These include a wooden combination barn/garage, a large wooden shed standing on poles, and a storage building with walls of wood and metal. All three structures have metal roofs and date to 1900 or later. Because they do not contribute to Killarney=s architectural significance and are not significant in and of themselves, they are being counted as non-contributing elements.
Significant Dates: c. 1855
Lisburn Plantation House
Lisburn Plantation has an open park-like setting near Lake Concordia with a long gravel approach. It was moved to this location in 1977 from the town of Waterproof.
However, the new setting is sympathetic, and in any case, the house has been moved three times in its history. But because of the new location only the house is nominated to the Register.
The one and one half story house is raised a full story above the ground on a new brick base. Originally the house had a one-story brick base, but by the time it got to Waterproof it had lost its base and was raised three feet above the ground on brick piers. When he brought the house to its new location, the present owner set the house upon a new full story brick base, containing family rooms and a kitchen. The chimneys were also replaced. The main floor of the house (the second) has a central hall plan with double parlors, and front and rear galleries. The exterior stair is at the rear. The attic contains a full story, which is lighted by one large front and one large rear dormer.
The attic is reached by means of a heavily proportioned stair with a large turned newel post. One of the four parlors is divided up into bathroom space but the remaining three are intact. Behind the heavily proportioned Greek Revival front gallery is a five-bay wooden facade painted and stippled to resemble marble. The interior mantels are similarly treated. Most of the doors and windows have ear-molded frames with pediment-shaped tops. The exception to this is the front door to the central hall. Here, the transom, side-lighted door is set within aedicule motif which has four pilasters, a heavy entablature, and a drip cornice. The shutters are original. Interior ceilings are treated with heavy moldings and acanthus leaf medallions.
SPECIFIC DATES 1852
BUILDER/ARCHITECT Builder: Thomas McAllister
Piazza Cotton Gin
The Piazza Gin Building, with its ginning/pressing equipment, was moved in 1997 from Rodney, Mississippi to its present location on Frogmore cotton plantation in Concordia Parish, Louisiana.
Concordia is just across the Mississippi River from Rodney. The two-story frame building was constructed sometime before about 1880 (due to the use of square nails), but its exact date cannot be determined.
The present equipment is later than the building, but it is impossible to know exactly when it was manufactured and installed. Much of it bears patent dates of 1883and 1884. The Munger double box press has to have been made and installed after 1890, because it has Birmingham stamped on it, and the company did not open a plant in that city until 1890. For the purposes of this nomination, the equipment will be given a c.1900 date. Despite the move and reconstruction of the bottom floor, the gin easily represents its significance as a very rare survivor.
Judging from collections of historic photographs, the Piazza gin appears to have been a fairly standard plantation gin building of its era -- i.e., a long, narrow, gable end building of two stories, with the ginning equipment on the second (ginning) story and the power plant below. As was also typical, processing consisted of two steps: removing the seeds from the cotton (the ginning) and pressing the
cotton into bales.
The building's cantilevered balcony on the north side illustrates an earlier period of ginning technology than the present equipment. This balcony, which lacks a balustrade, was used to hand baskets of cotton from wagons below up to the ginning floor to be dumped into a hopper atop a gin stand.
The present equipment provides for mechanical suction of the cotton to the second floor via a system of round ducts.
As would be expected from a utilitarian industrial building, the Piazza gin is not pristine from its original period of construction. Square nails can be found in the structure, the surviving clapboarding on the gable ends, and the windows. One suspects that originally the building was sheathed entirely in clapboards. Today most of it has a board and batten covering, presumably from generations of repairs
and possibly remodeling. In addition, the badly rotted lower floor was removed and then reconstructed (using some of the original materials). Finally, the roof was taken down and re-assembled. The second story and the ginning/pressing equipment were moved intact.
The lower story contains the power plant which consists of a single drive shaft running almost the length of the building. It is driven by a single piston steam engine with a stroke of approximately two-anda-half feet, located beneath an open lean-to on the south side of the building. The drive shaft contains several wooden belt drive wheels which connect with various steps in the ginning process above. One of the wheels is of iron, which is evidently a replacement. The end of the drive shaft connects with a screw thread mechanism which powers the cotton press in which bales are formed. Extremely steep narrow stairs provide access to the ginning floor above.
The boiler plant for the steam engine was not extant when the gin was discovered by the present owners. Immediately next to the steam engine is a small historic gristmill. Probably for domestic use, it was placed there to take advantage of the steam power.
The main floor (which is much taller than the first) contains an impressive array of equipment which provides for every step in the ginning and baling process. As was often the case, the equipment was purchased from various companies and combined on site to produce a single system. In this case the companies were the Gullett Gin Company of Amite, Louisiana and the Munger Gin Company of Texas (and later Birmingham, Alabama). The steam engine was manufactured by Frost Manufacturing
Company of Galesburg, Illinois.
Representing a major technological innovation called Asystem ginning,@ the Piazza gin was stateof-the-art for its period. Cotton was sucked from wagons via a circular tin duct into a wooden Munger separator which is high above the surrounding machinery. The suction process was actuated by a fan within the duct system which was powered from the drive shaft on the lower floor. Cotton was being transported through the flow of air, and the purpose of the separator was to remove the excess air and force the cotton into the separator=s hopper-like bottom. The cotton fed from the bottom of the separator into a two-tier system of conveyor belts with a wooden housing. The belts swept the cotton along into a pair of Gullett gin stands. The conveyor mechanism made it possible to regulate the amount of cotton going into each stand. Each stand is fabricated of magnolia wood and iron. Magnolia is a close-grained, strong wood considered suitable for hard industrial use such as ginning. A magnolia flower design is featured prominently on the wooden casings and the casting on the iron sides.
Each gin stand is a two-stage boxy affair. The upper portion, or feeder, encases a large wooden roller featuring rows of iron spikes. These removed leaves and other foreign objects from the cotton and forced it into the ginning mechanism below. Here a series of circular saw blades with iron ribs between removed the seeds. The teeth of the saw blades literally tore shreds of cotton away from the seeds. The seeds then fell to the floor. The seedless cotton, now called lint, was forced from the two gin stands into a pair of tin battery condensers. The condensers are essentially large ducts that channel the cotton to the baling stage.
The baling operation was centered around a pair of deep wooden boxes mounted on a circular platform set at one end of the gin house. The platform is set flush with the ginning floor and is supported by a central iron post which allows it to rotate. It is almost as wide as the building, and when stationary, one large cotton box is on each side of the building. The box on the south side was fed lint from the
condenser via a special feeder known as a tamper which Atamped@ the cotton into the box. When the box was full, the platform was rotated 180 degrees, which brought the filled box on top of a screw thread press located in the floor below. It also brought the empty box from the other side of the gin underneath the tamper, for the filling process to begin again. The lint in each successive box was compressed
upward into a normal size bale, which once complete, was released from the box using latches. The press was powered from the drive shaft on the ground floor, while the platform itself was rotated manually.
A signature feature of the gin building is a pair of large rooftop ventilators which extend several feet above the roofline. These functioned to release exhaust from the separator and the tamper.
The Piazza gin had been abandoned for years in its former location and was badly overgrown. A plantation gin which also may have processed cotton for others on the side, it was located near the small hamlet of Rodney on a remote bend of the Mississippi about thirty minutes above Natchez. A thriving small river port in the antebellum period, Rodney was bypassed by the railroad in the late nineteenth
century and entered a long period of decline, to the point where it is today typically referred to as a A ghost town.
The gin was moved across the Mississippi River to Frogmore Plantation in Concordia Parish, where it presently serves as part of an educational museum/tourist attraction. The setting is appropriate because Frogmore is a historic cotton plantation which once would have had a similar gin. Today's gin at Frogmore, located on another part of the plantation, is modern. Frogmore's main house was listed on the
National Register in 1980. Within the last two years the owners have moved various endangered plantation dependencies onto the property in an effort to save them and interpret cotton cultivation and processing to tourists. The gin is removed from the main part of the complex and stands fairly close to U.S. Highway 84.
The attached sketch map shows the general layout of the property. Immediately south of the gin is a historic cotton storage building. To the north is a small house referred to as a planter's office; it now houses the museum=s office and gift shop.
As noted previously, the second floor of the gin building and the ginning/pressing equipment were moved intact. The roof had to be removed for the move, and the first floor structure was removed due to severe deterioration. Its drive shaft was removed intact, as were the steam engine and gristmill. Once on site, the roof and first floor were rebuilt, the drive shaft put back in place, and the steam engine and
gristmill positioned where they had been originally.
The present stairs on each gable end of the building were built to provide tourist access to the building to OSHA standards. The openings they access are original, and a pre-move photo shows the remains of a platform on the present west side (the side with the wide opening and the double box press).
In addition, historic photos show gins with a wide opening, platform and stairs on at least one gable end.
Situated on a 9.3-acre tract of land fronting on Lake Concordia and located about 200feet from the edge of the lake, Roseland is a one-and-a-half story, frame, Greek Revival dwelling set upon tall brick foundation piers. The rear slope of the gabled roof is pierced by two, interior, brick chimneys, and the front slope of the roof contains two gabled dormers featuring molded pilasters that enframe windows filled with six-over-six, double-hung sash. One dormer, identical to the front dormers, is located on the rear slope of the roof and lights the second-story stair hall. The
northeasterly five-bay facade is fronted by a gallery supported by molded and paneled box columns which are echoed on the ends of the facade by pilasters with side returns. The columns and pilasters were originally linked by a railing consisting of molded handrail and wooden spindles clustered and bound in a sheaf-of-wheat pattern, as documented in an old photograph. The columns support a full, molded entablature topped with a central, molded and paneled, pedimented cresting.
The entablature-was once further enlivened by acroteria that, like the railing, will be reconstructed as part of the restoration of the house. The front wall of the house, which was originally plastered end scored in imitation of stone is finished by a molded base with single fascia. The windows of the front wall feature symmetrically molded surrounds with corner blocks and central tablets. All windows of
the house are filled with six-over-six, double-hung sash. The entrance doorway of the center bay consists of a single-leaf, molded, two-paneled door enframed by fluted, turned, attached columns.
Sidelights set over molded panels are located between the turned columns and attached box columns, both of which serve to support a full molded entablature.
Unusual for the area is the absence of a doorway transom.
The interior floor plan is a double-pile plan with central passage. The passage is divided midway by a partition wall which contains a molded, elliptically arched opening with keystone. The opening was originally filled with triple-leaf doors matching the other interior doors of the house. The four downstairs rooms are identically trimmed with doors having six, molded panels; symmetrically molded doorway and window surrounds with corner blocks; molded panels beneath all windows;
molded baseboards with a single fascia; and wooden, pilastered mantel pieces. Both rear rooms contain original fireplace closets which retain some of the original wooden pegs and possibly original paint colors. The staircase is enclosed and is entered at the rear of the central passage on the easterly hall wall. The stairway is entered in a series of winders that make a quarter turn and continues in a straight flight, in a northeasterly direction, before terminating in a second series of winders that make a quarter turn before leading into the upstairs hallway. The staircase features a turned newel post and rectangular-sectioned balusters on the second-story level. The two, secondstory bedrooms, located on either side of the central passage, were originally unheated and, like the hallway, were trimmed with simple beaded bases with architrave door and window surrounds. The doors are six-paneled and molded like those of the first story.
An original, one-story wing was attached to the western end of the rear of the house and was demolished in 1946. A new wing in the same location has been constructed by the present owner.
Addendum by SHPO
Specific dates 1835-50
Zappe Boarding House
A two-story frame dwelling constructed in 1922, the Zappe Boarding House is a restrained example of the Craftsman style. It stands on one side of a two-lot parcel in a combination residential/industrial section of the Concordia Parish town of Ferriday. Although now removed, railroad tracks once ran only a short distance from the building. The boarding house has received some alterations since construction but retains its National Register eligibility.
The building's massing includes a main block in the shape of a large rectangle whose roof ridge runs perpendicular to the street. A smaller and lower mass (the porch) is attached to the facade, while a shed roof porch adjoins the rear elevation. The boarding house's Craftsman features include overhanging eaves with exposed rafter tails, thick posts supporting the front porch roof, and jerkinhead roofs on both the porch and the main block.
As befits a building constructed for a somewhat utilitarian purpose, the interior of the boarding house is undistinguished and its floorplan is very straightforward. The first floor consists of two ranges of rooms. The range on the left (as one faces the building) contains a stair hall followed by a dining room, kitchen, and rear space containing a utility area and bath. The right range holds a parlor (located next to
the stair hall) and three bedrooms. The second floor contains a long hallway flanked by small sleeping rooms for boarders. The second story bath is situated in one rear corner room.
Alterations to the exterior since the 1922 construction of the building include the lowering of the original front and back porches, the paving of a new ground level front porch with bricks salvaged from chimneys removed from the building (see below), the replacement of the original front door (which survives in storage), the covering of the front porch=s original brick piers with plaster, the installation of
asbestos shingles on the rear elevation, and the replacement of one window on the rear wall.
Alterations to the interior include:
1) the installation of ceiling tiles in most rooms and carpet in some first floor rooms.
2) the enclosure, behind new diagonal walls, of space originally occupied by wood-burning stoves. These formerly stood in one corner of each of five downstairs rooms. Also, the chimneys which served these stoves were removed at this time.
3) the removal (due to floor damage caused by the 1927 Mississippi River flood) of a small hallway between the dining room and the kitchen and a 1960s kitchen update. As part of the latter, half of the wall between the kitchen and dining room was removed in order to make the two rooms more open to each other.
4) projects completed when the second floor=s function changed from boarding house to
apartment. These included the conversion of one upstairs room into a kitchen (and the
paneling of that room=s walls) and the remodeling of the downstairs bath which was used by the building's owner. The latter included the covering of one window and the
shortening of another.
Although the lowering of the building=s front porch is regrettable, this is the only alteration which has had a major impact on the facade. And despite this modification, former residents of the Zappe Boarding House would easily recognize the building if they were to return to Ferriday today. This ability, of
course, is the litmus test for historical nominations. As a very rare surviving building associated with Ferriday's once thriving railroad industry, the Zappe Boarding House is a prime candidate for National Register listing.
Significant Dates: 1922-1948