Meridian, MS, Part I: Historic Homes
From Red Bay we headed south to Meridian, MS, where we stayed at Benchmark Coach & RV Park. Benchmark RV has gravel roads and paved pads with grass between the sites. The sites are mostly pull-throughs, and they are fairly narrow. There are full hookups, free Wi-Fi and cable. Fifty-amp electric is available at each site, but for an extra charge of $3 a night for 50 amps we opted for 30 amps because it wasn't hot enough that we would need both air conditioners. Benchmark is a Passport America park which requires a reservation and cash to obtain the PA rate. The photo below shows our site at Benchmark RV.
The next photo is a view down the road past our site.
There are railroad tracks that run several hundred feet behind the campground. Fortunately, there weren't many trains passing by because they really roared and rumbled when they did. The train horns at the nearby crossings were pretty loud, too.
One of the first settlers in Meridian in the mid 1800s was Richard McLemore. He deeded a plot of land to his daughter, Juriah Jackson, and her husband who built a small, 4-room cottage on the land in 1858. The house was one of only 6 that was not burned by General Willian Tecemsah Sherman when he attacked Meridian on his infamous march to the sea. Subsequent owners enlarged and modified the house. In 1904, H. S. Floyd bought the house and expanded it to the 26-room mansion that exists today.
The home was divided into 8 apartments in the 1930s, and it was a rooming house until the 1960s. The building was purchased in 1968 by the Meridian Restorations Foundation with the purpose of restoring and preserving the home. The foundation renamed the house Merrehope (Meridian Restorations + Hope). The house is open for tours and can be rented for weddings and other special events. There are tours featuring Christmas trees and decorations during the holiday season.
An interesting feature of the house is a second-story suspended balcony under the main porch. The balcony is suspended by iron rods inside small, wood colimns. You can see the balcony to the left in the photo of the front of the house above.
When we stepped inside, the first thing we noticed were the striking red glass panels surrounding the front door.
The house is furnished with period pieces, although only a few of them are original to the house. The next photo shows the double parlor with columns dividing the two halves of the room.
The next photo shows the dining room.
Located on the same property as Merrehope is the Frank W. Williams house. Frank Williams, who was founder of United States Fidelity and Guarantee Insurance Company, built this home in 1885 as a wedding gift for his wife, Bessie.
The Williams house was originally located up the street, but it was donated to the Merrehope Foundation and moved to its present location beind Merrehope in 1979. The outside of the house is in poor condition with paint that is in need of restoration. Hurricane Katrina also damaged the porch and many of the shutters. However, the inside of the house, although unrestored, is in remarkably good shape. Most of the furnishings are original to the house. The photo below shows Margery in the men's parlor.
After touring both houses we headed back to the motor home to relax. One of the reasons we choose to stop in Meridian was there were a few things to see and do, but not too many. After our summer of extensive sightseeing, we were happy to stop where we wouldn't be overwhelmed by too many sightseeing choices. However, we still had one more thing we decided to see while in Meridian, so stay tuned.