Perhaps the most famous of the five sites, the Charnley-Norwood House, was built in 1890 and designed by Louis Sullivan and his then apprentice, Frank Lloyd Wright. The beachfront vacation home was constructed for lumber-baron James Charnley. The house burned in 1897 and was rebuilt almost exactly. The Charnley-Norwood House is an excellent architectural example of a concept that both Sullivan and Wright pioneered, that of bringing the outdoors in through the use of natural light, ample operable windows, and multiple doors (a total of 32!) that open out onto exterior living spaces. When Katrina struck in 2005 the home was owned by Mary and Edsel Ruddiman, both of whom passed away within six months of the storm. Katrina left the Charnley-Norwood House bent and broken with the front portion of the roof resting on the ground, the foundation piers piercing the floor, the curly pine walls cracking or drifting away, and the front porch completely missing. After the storm, volunteers combed the surrounding woods and bayou to recover as many intricate pieces of the house as possible and preservationists from around the country rallied to save this architectural treasure. The Charnley-Norwood House sat untouched for three years while debates carried on about the state of the structure and the future of the property. In 2008 emergency stabilization work was carried out and the interior was restored with funds from the Mississippi Hurricane Relief Grant for Historic Preservation. The restoration was completed in 2013 and Mississippi Department of Marine Resources purchased the property vowing to preserve and maintain this national landmark.
Upon visiting 12 Oaks, students will have the opportunity to traverse and explore 30 acres of land overlooking Old Fort Bayou. The property was acquired by the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain in 2005 and has been designated as a site for coastal conservation, ecological study, and a retreat for artists. The property was originally purchased in 1854 by the James family from the U.S. Government, and in 1880 was sold for $5.00 by Leannah James to Johanna Smith-Blount, one of her former slaves. A mere four years later, Mrs. Blount sold a four acre parcel of the property to the African Methodist Episcopal Church for use as a campground. In a local journal it was reported that “the new Methodist Episcopal Church North, a colored church, was erected for $1,000 in February 1898,” and local lore claims that baptisms were performed in Old Fort Bayou. Notable to the site’s natural character are the large oak trees sprinkling the property, and most prominently the three trees christened Faith, Hope, and Charity which act as guardians at the back of the property.
Built in the early 1880s by Bernard Dedeaux, the Shaw Homestead, was a component of the 1862 Federal Homestead Act. This Act was created to encourage settlers to move to south Mississippi by allowing any adult who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government ownership of land at little or no cost. Dedeaux eventually transferred the property to his brother-in-law, Jules Ladner, who restructured the home into a full dog trot with a detached kitchen. Melvina and Gilbert Shaw purchased the homestead in 1902, and subsequently enclosed the side porch in order to create lean-to bedrooms. The booming timber economy further affected the homestead when it was used as a timber station in addition to a sheep station. After Melvina Shaw evacuated for Hurricane Camille in 1969 the property was left vacant until the second catastrophic blow was delivered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The homestead was then donated to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain in 2006. After two historic hurricanes and 37 years of vacancy, the property was in grave need of repair and is currently being restored with assistance from Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the National Endowment for the Arts, Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain, and architectural direction from Unabridged Architecture and Bay View Construction. The future of the property is bright with plans for a museum of rural life.
Phoenix Naval Stores & the turkey creek watershed
Phoenix Naval Stores is located in the historic Turkey Creek community, known for its freshwater marsh, coastal hardwood forest, and as of late turbulent times. Since the mid-1950s, surrounding infrastructure has continually encroached upon the community and its residents and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, businesses began moving northward, away from the shoreline, and further encroaching on the community, thus garnering national attention for the residents and their properties. Due to the increase in awareness, the Turkey Creek Community Initiatives was formed and received help from the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain as well as Audubon Mississippi. In the 1940s the Phoenix Naval Stores office was a booming epicenter of the timber industry in Mississippi until a massive explosion killed 11 men. The plant has been closed since the explosion and sits today as a decaying relic reminiscent of the timber industry in the state. The community is currently seeking funding and aims to turn the building into a community center for the nearby Turkey Creek neighborhood.
Cedar Lake Island
With a rich history and significant contribution to the timber industry in Mississippi, Cedar Lake Island, which sits along the west side of the Tchoutacabouffa River and was once a bustling timber town contained within 44 acres, will be a site where students truly engage the imagination. The property was part of a 150 acre parcel purchased in 1882 by John Henry Krohn, and in the early 1900s, it became an ideal setting for a logging town. The island, often called “Vennie”, was acquired in 1919 by the L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company, and housed an operational saw mill, a church, a school, and even a nightclub. The L.N. Dantzler Lumber Company withdrew in 1927 and today the property has returned back to its natural state and is an important stopover for migratory birds including the blue heron, osprey, and pelican.
For more lesson plans and to delve deeper into the world of preservation, click here: http://www.mississippiheritage.com/preservation-curriculum/
For lesson plans on Mississippi ecology and environmental preservation visit the Land Trust's teacher resource page here: http://ltmcp.org/teacher-resources/