Happy 20th anniversary at Anchuca to Tom Pharr! The difference is in the details and you are a difference maker. You could live anywhere and design beautiful homes and work spaces, but we are glad that you chose this corner of the world. You see beauty behind what has been covered up and potential where there is a blank canvas. You are a great storyteller, sharing the history of our community in a way that draws people in and sends them out with a different view. You continually encourage others to join in the cause of historic preservation. In this one neighborhood, you have turned a garden into a gathering spot (with delicious food)! You have saved homes and reimagined them, including Springfield house. You have added five new homes that fit seamlessly into the fabric of the neighborhood, adding value to everyone else as well. You have donated your amazing talent for design to other areas of the city and given advice to many. Wish we had a photo of you working at Anchuca as a teenager to celebrate this milestone in your full circle story. We salute you and your tireless commitment!
The following article and photos appeared in The Vicksburg Post on July 18, 2021.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost (1923)
No doubt my love of the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost is related to my affection for the 1983 film adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. When two of the main characters – Ponyboy and Johnny – recite this short poem and discuss its deeper meaning, their words became permanently etched in my memory as I watched this scene play out untold times. (This also helped as I had to memorize and recite poetry for a grade in my senior English class!) However, these words recently came back to me in a different way.
If you live in this area, you will be familiar with the golden glaze of pollen that covers everything during this wonderful time of year. As lovely as the new blooms of spring are, the layers of pollen can present an array of problems from seasonal allergies to spring cleaning. Mae Burns, who owned Anchuca from 1978 until 1998, found a practical way to tackle this situation, which also coincided with the busy Spring Pilgrimage. She changed the paint color of Anchuca from its traditional white facade to a golden one to disguise the pollen (aka “Anchuca Gold” at our local Sherwin Williams). And so, the plan remains for Anchuca to Stay Gold!
Note: Like Anchuca, many of Vicksburg’s historic structures started out as red brick but were later painted or stuccoed over to help seal and preserve the old bricks. Planter’s Hall is an example of original red brick structure, and at Christ Church, there is an area that shows the original red brick.
A note about Anchuca’s original cast iron, coal-burning fireplaces
We hope you are staying warm on this unusually cold and icy day in Vicksburg. These frigid temps have us thinking about curling up with a good book by the fireplace, and also asking the question, “Did you know…?”
Anchuca’s cast iron, coal-burning fireplaces, a modern convenience at the time, were some of the first in Vicksburg. Jane and Victor Wilson, a coal and ice merchant and one of the town’s most influential citizens, are credited with adding the impressive Greek revival-style addition to the home in the late 1840s. This addition not only made Anchuca one of the first columned-mansions in Vicksburg, but also included many beautifully-designed, architectural details that are still seen today. Unlike the other wood-burning fireplaces throughout the home, the coal-burning fireplaces were supplied by Mr. Wilson’s coal yard, located just at the bottom of the hill.
Anchuca’s original, coal-burning fireplaces are beautiful architectural details.
Of course, they are not working fireplaces now (even though once replaced by gas heaters) as it would pose a safety hazard. Also, you may have noticed that Anchuca’s chimneys on the front addition are not visible from the outside as they were damaged in the devastating tornado of 1953.
Anchuca’s original chimneys were destroyed by tornado in 1953.
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.