Anchuca bought by native Vicksburg couple
Vicksburg’s first tour home and columned mansion is under new ownership for the first time in more than 20 years.
Anna Kate Doiron and Sam Andrews, both sixth-generation Vicksburgers, have purchased Anchuca Historic Mansion and Inn from Tom Pharr. The sale was made possible through a financing agreement between the couple, Pharr, and Delta Bank of Vicksburg — all of whom entered into a non-disclosure agreement surrounding the final sale price of the property and business.
“Preserving and enhancing Anchuca has been my top priority for the last two decades,” Pharr said. “I believe they are the right couple to continue this effort as I’ve seen firsthand their appreciation for the history of this property and the surrounding neighborhood. I know they will be excellent stewards of its success.”
The couple says all current offerings of the award-winning business will remain the same. Additionally, the couple has hired Vicksburg residents Ken Rector of Bailess & Rector, LLP and Riley Nelson of May & Company, LLP to represent Anchuca’s business interests going forward.
Andrews said he has great respect for Pharr’s successful revitalization efforts, calling him not only an advocate but catalyst for investment in Vicksburg’s National Register Historic District. Andrews remembers when Pharr announced his concept for traditionally styled, new homes in the city’s oldest neighborhood.
“When Tom described his plans to build small homes on available lots in the most historic part of Vicksburg, all in close proximity to Anchuca, I was immediately interested,” Andrews said. “While the outside of each home was designed to complement the historic neighborhood, the inside included modern conveniences and a functional floor plan.”
Nearly 12 years later, Andrews and his fiancé not only own one of those new homes envisioned by Pharr, but also the historic mansion where the idea was born.
“From getting engaged here nearly a year ago to time spent with family and friends, Anchuca has been one of the best parts of our lives together in Vicksburg,” Doiron said. “Sam and I couldn’t be more excited to call it our own and continue sharing it with visitors from all over the world — it was an opportunity we couldn’t resist.”
Before moving back to Vicksburg, Pharr lived in Atlanta, Ga., where he started his own architectural and interior design business with a wide range of clients, including music legends L.A. Reid, Toni Braxton, and Sean Combs. When the opportunity arose to purchase Anchuca in 2001, the 37-year-old Pharr found himself in a “full-circle” moment as he had worked there as a teenager. Pharr believes that his early experience and the many interesting people he met there helped inspire him to choose his original career path.
“As a young kid, all I could think was that I wanted to move away and see the world, which I did,” said Pharr. “What I didn’t realize at the time was that Anchuca would bring me home and then bring people from all over the world to me so I could share Vicksburg’s unique story with them.”
During his time as approximately the 10th owner of the 192-year-old home, Pharr has impeccably maintained and enhanced the property, bringing Anchuca into the digital age and adding on the Garden Room to accommodate more events and dining space, creating a special place for the local community to enjoy as well.
Pharr credits his successful tenure of ownership with incredible support from his family, especially his mother and sister; many generous friends who shared their time and talents; and the wonderful staff, as well as faithful patrons and the local community. Moving forward, he plans to continue his design work and further develop Vicksburg’s most historic area.
“Like Anna Kate (23) and Sam (27), I was young when I bought Anchuca, so naturally many people questioned my decision,” Pharr said. “But, thankfully, I had a greater number of people who supported me. Combine that with persistence, passion, and the right attitude, and you can make anything happen. This couple most definitely shares that mindset.”
The new owners have deep ties to Vicksburg’s historic past and look forward to sharing their family stories with Anchuca’s guests. Doiron is a descendant of the family who first bottled Coca-Cola in Vicksburg in 1894, while Andrews is a descendant of the first civilian killed during the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863. Both events took place just blocks from Anchuca.
“Tom and the talented team at Anchuca have done an incredible job preserving, enhancing, and marketing this historic property,” Andrews said. “We’re excited to build on that success for the next generation.”
That’s a wrap!
Scenes from Lifetime movie filmed at Anchuca
An upcoming Lifetime movie titled “My Stolen Life” recently wrapped up filming in Vicksburg, including several scenes at Anchuca. While we are known for our warm, Southern hospitality, Mother Nature is not. They endured heat near 100 degrees (and humidity that was over the top)! However, it was fun to welcome them to our beautiful city and see the details of the project come together.
After two weeks of filming at various locations around Vicksburg, about 30 cast and crew members from all over the country (and even Australia) celebrated with a poolside “Wrap Party” and cookout at Anchuca, including a bit of a “cool” front and lower humidity.
Stay tuned for more information about the movie that is expected to release in November or December.
In Springfield, one of Vicksburg’s most historic neighborhoods, named for its proximity to natural, freshwater springs in the area at the time, new construction homes are finding their niche for the first time in more than 75 years. With the completion of Springfield home in January 2009, Tom Pharr not only successfully relocated and repurposed a historic home marked for demolition, he began to reimagine a way to revitalize his beloved neighborhood. As owner of nearby Anchuca Historic Mansion and Inn, Pharr wanted to find a way to add value and bring new life to the historic area while also maintaining the historic integrity of the neighborhood. With decades of experience in designing beautiful homes, Pharr combined his talent of design, attention to detail, and love for his neighborhood into building what he calls “Springfield Cottages,” five new residences built on previously vacant lots on Cherry and First East streets.
In addition to adding value to current residences, this new construction has attracted more people to call this neighborhood home. Whether young professionals or ready-to-retire and downsize, these new homeowners can enjoy the benefits of living close to downtown and in the heart of Vicksburg’s unique and diverse mix of historic buildings.
This project was recently featured in a publication by the Vicksburg Post, called “Letters from Home: Stories of Vicksburg for Every Letter in the Alphabet” under “N” for neighborhood.
Anchuca from the Air
It’s a beautiful day in Anchuca’s historic neighborhood.
These arial videos by Tom Roark give us a bird’s-eye view of Anchuca, in the heart of Old Town Vicksburg, which is just blocks from the Old Courthouse Museum and minutes from downtown and the National Military Park.
(Just click the links below for a look at Anchuca from the air.)
“The Charm of Vicksburg, Mississippi”
Stop in Vicksburg was highlight of civil war-themed cruise
Every day aboard the America Cruise Line’s America was spectacular, especially for those of us who were thrilled to be educated by the great great grandson of Confederate President Jefferson Davis as a shipmate on this boat trip up the Mississippi through Civil War territory. An added bonus was the dual entertainment of Laura and Bill Wiemuth who know how to combine musical talent, even a bit of magic, with a vast knowledge of the Mighty Mississippi. Afternoon talks by both Bertram Davis and Bill and evening music and laughter headed by Laura and Bill, coupled with fascinating tours of museums, towns, and battlefields make for an indescribably wonderful cruise.
But if there is a single day to be identified as a highlight of the trip, it was the spontaneous day we spent walking around Vicksburg with Bertram and Carol Davis and a close friend of theirs, Tom Pharr. Bertram explained the trip was ‘an extra,’ being tried by the cruise line to see if people would like it and whether it should be incorporated on future trips. I give that suggestion an A plus, and then some!
If there are any complaints at all, it’s that the Civil War themed cruise was not long enough! The 18 hour stay in Vicksburg, Mississippi simply doesn’t allow enough time to take in all the history of the battlefield and the siege of the city, the beauty of the area, the museums that abound about everything from Coca Cola to the USS Cairo, the first ironclad battleship that was sunk during the war. Or Anchuca, a magnificent mansion with a wonderful owner.
We capitalized on the Davis/Pharr friendship. Pharr is an equally friendly historian and a Vicksburg native who owns Anchuca and a couple of other residences in Vicksburg. Couple this friendship with the cruise line’s enthusiasm for introducing innovative programs to see if cruise goers would enjoy something out of the ordinary, and the walking tour was a huge bonus.
After an incredible morning talk about the Steamboat Sultana given by Wiemuth, and a several hour visit to the battlefield, we accepted the invitation to take the short walk to one of Tom’s houses, Anchuca, a luxurious and comfortable antebellum home, now restaurant and B&B, and enjoy tea in the drawing room. The home couldn’t be named more aptly…. Anchuca is a Choctaw word meaning happy home.
During tea, we were formally introduced to Tom, who immediately launched into a spirited explanation on the history of the mansion where he had worked during his high school years when it was a B&B as well as a tour guide and porter. Though he always dreamed of owning a home like this, Tim left Vicksburg for an education and career in architectural design but never quite forgot the teen age dream and the first architectural design he fell in love with. So 15 years ago when it became available, Tom decided to chuck his architectural work, return to his birthplace and buy Anchuca. Today, this Greek revival landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the most historic homes on the River, enjoys a reputation for being one of the best restaurants and B&Bs in the area, and is beautifully furnished with great antiques and art.
We also learned the friendship between Tom and Bertram was more or less meant to be. While these two historians are 21st century friends, the 19th century owners and Jefferson Davis’ older brother. Joseph, were also apparently friends; Joseph was living here at the time of his death and the Confederate President himself had given talks from the front balcony, to the devastated people of Vicksburg after the siege. It’s a very small world even over the centuries.
After tea, conversation, a tour of the mansion and the promise of more to come, we climbed further up the hill from Anchuca and the levee, all the while Tom regaling the dozen or so of us walkers with tales about Vicksburg and what made it great. He pointed out the Episcopal Church in the next block where daily services were conducted during the siege to assuage the grief of the residents, only to have the present day pastor, the Rev. Sam Godfrey, come out to greet us and open the doors to invite us in for a brief rest and more history about this still very active church and community.
Starting downhill again, on a broad street lined with crepe myrtles not yet in their full summer bloom making it easy to see this tree’s unique style of shedding its bark year round, we waved back and shouted greetings to neighbors who simply came
out to say hello and welcome. Regretfully, because of time constraints, we had to turn down the cheery invitation of the charming nonagenarian who came out on her back porch to say hello and invite us in to her antebellum home for yet another cup of tea. There’s no doubt about it, Southerners are a downright friendly and outgoing people!
One more stop before heading back to the boat was at the home where Tom now lives, another antebellum beauty with fascinating architecture, amazing porches, and a wonderful blend of historic design and modern convenience. A highlight here is an upstairs office where the walls are plastered with this very dynamic architectural designer’s drawings of some of the many homes he has helped restore to their 19th century grandeur.
Heading back to the levee, we had enough time to review some of the spectacular wall painted by local artists and depicting the history of Vicksburg from when the Sisters of Mercy had a mission there through Theodore Roosevelt’s famous bear hunting expedition and many other sites that helped make Vicksburg the spectacular city it is today. Not as attractive, but perhaps an even larger part of the city’s history, is the levee wall with the markings of how high the river rose during specific storms and hurricanes.
Vicksburg survived the Civil War, fought off Northern forces for many days, swallowed hard and overcame the devastation of its 47 day siege that marked the turning point of a war that should never have happened, and today can hold its head high and be proud of its history, beauty, strength, and the people who have made it all happen.
Written by Muriel J Smith, a Freehold, New Jersey, resident and a former newspaper editor and author, for the “Atlantic Highlands Herald” and also submitted to the “Vicksburg Post”
(reprinted with permission)
The Best of the Best
Anchuca voted Best B&B in Vicksburg…again!
As this Thanksgiving season approaches, we would like to take time to thank The Vicksburg Post and all those who voted Anchuca as the Best B&B in Vicksburg. We truly appreciate your support and thank you for helping preserve Anchuca. It’s an exciting time to experience the new Taste of Anchuca and meet Eric Richards, our new general manager and executive chef.
Anchuca celebrates 60th anniversary as tour home
Dedication of Historical Marker Planned
Vicksburg, Miss. (December 8, 2015) — Anchuca Historic Mansion and Inn, Vicksburg’s first columned mansion and first “home of historic significance” to open its doors “for public inspection,” is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a Holiday Open House and dedication ceremony for its State Historical Marker on Thursday, December 17, 2015, at 9:00 a.m.The house will be open for complimentary tours immediately following the dedication ceremony until noon. All Anchuca gift cards will be offered for sale with an additional 20% cash value added.
A full-page article in the “The Sunday Post-Herald” from November 27, 1955, states that as a tourist attraction, the residence at 1010 First East Street will be known as “Anchuca, an Indian name which in the original Choctaw meant ‘My Happy Home.’” In the 60 years since, Anchuca has not only been home to a fortunate handful of owners/proprietors, but it has also been a home away from home for tourists and guests alike, who keep coming back to enjoy Southern hospitality at its finest and all that Old Town Vicksburg has to offer.
Tom Pharr, owner of Anchuca, said, “We are excited to celebrate this important milestone in Anchuca’s history. When I think of how far tourism has come — especially the opportunities and the reach we now have in this digital age — and the positive economic impact on this community that we have had not only as an attraction for tourists, but also as an employer, I can’t help but be proud of our contribution to preserve such a unique, American historic neighborhood.”
Pharr also believes this success would have made his maternal grandmother, the late Gladys Marie Garner Barnette, in whose memory the State Historical Marker will be dedicated, proud.
“We wanted to honor her memory because she provided the funds to secure the marker through a gift she left for my mother, who passed it on to me,” Pharr said. “We knew we wanted to do something special with the gift, and placing the commemorative marker for everyone who visits to see and learn about the significance of Anchuca seemed like the perfect fit.”
The Mississippi Department of Archives and History began this program in 1949, and has placed nearly 900 silver and green markers across the state to identify and interpret historic sites.
Notably, town legend proclaims Anchuca’s front balcony was the site of one of Jefferson Davis’ last public addresses to friends and neighbors in 1869, while his brother Joseph E. Davis was in residence at the home. Mr. Bertram Hayes-Davis, great-great-grandson to Jefferson Davis and president of the Jefferson Davis Foundation, and his wife, Carol, will help with the dedication ceremony. The Davis’ stop in Vicksburg is planned as part of an exclusive tour of Jefferson Davis sites along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis on the American Queen steamboat.
Today, Anchuca, regularly voted Best of the Best for B&B in the “Vicksburg Post’s” poll, boasts 10 beautiful guest rooms and an award-winning Cafe, as well as a gorgeous backdrop for many special events.