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.”
Keep Cool Kid!
School is out, and summer is almost (officially) here! In climates like Mississippi’s, that calls for a swimming pool appreciation post. Sometime in the late 1970s, Anchuca’s former owner Mae Burns made the decision to add a swimming pool to the list of amenities our B&B guests can enjoy. We love the classically-shaped pool and statues on each corner representing the four seasons, which have added to Anchuca’s charm for four decades.
Today, our guests can continue to enjoy a relaxing swim or take a break to lounge by the pool during these long, summer days. Anchuca’s pool makes a great spot to enjoy the sunset and has also been the backdrop for a wedding proposal or two.(Even Ferdinand has been known to take advantage of the scenery for a cat nap.) We hope you enjoy this look back!
Also, this could be an appreciation post for the addition of Springfield house to the corner of Cherry and First East streets (see photo) but we’ll save that for another day. We love our Old Town neighborhood!
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.