Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mount Holly Plantation in Burned Ruins.

After the fire.
The first time I laid eyes on Mount Holly Plantation, it was damn hot. We'd spent the morning at Lakeport Plantation near Lake Village, and had explored the house and grounds there. An offhand remark on the tour about other plantations brought up
Mount Holly Plantation in 2010.
Mount Holly, which was built on a similar floorplan, not far away in Mississippi. Of course we went.


The year was 2010. It was August, and I had recently hired photographer Grav Weldon on for some temporary assignment
The fine Italianate sunroom to the north, in 2010.
work. I wasn't sure how I was going to manage with a photographer, but I knew I desperately needed one. Grav did not disappoint, managing to keep up with me over a few weeks and, to my surprise, quickly becoming my right hand
North face of Mount Holly after the fire.
The flames ate away all but the concrete
footing for the sunroom parlor.
man. Five years now, and we're still working together.

But at this point, he was new to the return to Arkansas, fresh off a four year stint in Chicago. The weather was remarkably different, and throughout our 60 hour, 16 story sojourn through Lower Arkansas, daytime temperatures peaked and exceeded 100 degrees.

The goal was originally 15 stories, but Mount Holly was intriguing, and we spent precious afternoon hours driving along old roads around Lake Washington looking for it. And when we found it, we were immediately struck by its magnificence. And its decay. As the cicadas screamed, we photographed the
A view through a gap in the doorway offered this sight: signs
of renovation and some of Mount Holly Plantation's original
splendor, in August 2010.
unrestored relic from outside. A security system was in place, and the whole building reeked of something rotten.  Not knowing the condition of the interior, we didn't dare step inside. But Grav did manage to capture some interior images through windows and open doors. You can read about that particular day, about Lakeport Plantation and Mount Holly as well, here.

The hope had been at
A detail from a remaining piece of decorative molding on one
of the few remaining internal walls, June 2015.
that point for someone to come along and rescue the plantation home. Indeed, when next we drove by, in November 2013, we noticed a single-wide modular building sitting on wheels out front, and hoped this would be for some sort of restoration project. Sadly, when we walked the perimeter, we
View from the southwest, August 2010.
noticed that many of the windows were broken out, and that law books stacked within were strewn about the place. Some windows had been replaced with plywood painted white.

But that was nothing
View from the southwest, November 2013.
compared to what happened this past month. We were in Eureka Springs when we heard the news, June 17th, that Mount Holly had burned. Knowing our travels were soon to take us south, we made plans to visit one more
Mount Holly Plantation after the fire, June 2015.
time.  I don't think either of us expected quite what we saw.

It was dead quiet when we got there.  We were surprised at the lack of char or debris.  In places the glass had shattered, in others it had melted.  As we worked, a storm started to brew to the northeast -- which seemed pretty unusual.  By the time we'd made our way around the building, it had stirred up something fierce, and before we made it to Vicksburg we were driving in sheeting, torrential, blowing rain.

We plan one more visit this week, to see how the ruins fared.  Sadly, without someone's dedication and a whole lot of funding, I don't believe Mount Holly will once again welcome guests with open doors... and that's a damn shame.

Sun parlor on north side of building, August 2010.

Sun parlor on north side of building, November 2013.

Former location of sun parlor on north side of building, June 2015.

The back door by the kitchen was standing wide open when we visited in August
2010, so Grav managed to capture a staircase.
I decided it was too dangerous to get close to that same point in June 2015.
At some point, 20th century trellis had been attached over a former porch
on the southeast side of the house. There was some damage here to the structure
and evidence of failing bricks could be seen in this August 2010 photo.
Same angle bur further away, June 2015. The trellis and most of the porch, gone.
Detail work above the main entrance, August 2010.
Mount Holly Plantation viewed from the west, August 2010.
Mount Holly Plantation viewed from the west, November 2013.
Mount Holly Plantation viewed from the west, June 2015.





















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