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FROM DAYS PAST...The phenomenon of Starkvilles Hollow Blocks

April 2, 2011

By Ruth Morgan
For Starkville Daily News
Old maps of Starkville are very interesting and reveal trends.  Luceille Liston Mitlin found that building lots in and near the town center were divided early and much of the development outward before 1925 was not as well planned.
She found that early land purchasers obtained large plots, possibly what later became square blocks or large portions of blocks.  A house was located centrally in the land leaving ample space for servants or slave quarters and other outbuildings.  Some land in each parcel remained for grazing, gardens and lawns.
She gave an example of the development of the one-owner-square block, which is found east on University Drive where Colonial Heights subdivision was developed. 
The mansion standing at the top of the hill was once centered on a single-owner square block. 
The mansion was built at 700 College Road for Colonel Henry Lowndes Muldrow for which the street, Muldrow Avenue, is named and bordered his property.  He was a representative from Mississippi; born near Tibbee Station, in Clay County, on Feb. 8, 1837. He graduated from the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1857 and from the law department of the same university in 1858; was admitted to the bar in 1859 and commenced practice in Starkville. He entered the Confederate Army as a private in 1861 and before the close of the Civil War attained the rank of colonel of cavalry. He was a district attorney for the sixth judicial district of Mississippi 1869-1871; and a member of the state house of representatives in 1875. He was a trustee of the University of Mississippi 1876-1898. He was elected as a Democrat to the 45th and to the three succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1877-March 3, 1885); chairman, Committee on Territories (Forty-sixth Congress), Committee on Private Land Claims (Forty-eighth Congress); First Assistant Secretary of the Interior during the first administration of President Cleveland. He resigned in 1889 and resumed the practice of law in Starkville. He was a delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1890; appointed chancellor of the first district of Mississippi in September 1899 and served until 1905. He died in Starkville, on March 1, 1905; with interment in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
R. P. Washington, member of House of Representatives from 1890-1892 and vice president of Merchant and Farmers Bank, purchased the residence from Mrs. Muldrow’s estate settlement for the sum of $6,250 on Feb. 24, 1919 and remained there until his death.  Mrs. Mitlin’s thesis on “Land Use in Starkville” described it as a “square block” with a beautiful colonial style mansion on it.  The block was encased by the streets of Muldrow, Lummus, Maxwell and College Drive.  Directly in front of the house was a small concrete pool.  Mrs. Evelyn Redus Stevens who lived on College Road told me that her dad had also built a concrete pool for she and her friends to wade in during the hot summer.  There was an outbreak of polio in 1929 and public pools were closed and many built these small concrete wading pools which were later turned into gold fish ponds. 
On the right of the mansion was a two-story carriage house. The first level of the carriage house opened at both ends for the carriage to go through. It also had living quarters with a dirt floor.  The second level also had living quarters. C. L. Smith remembered two men, both named “Slim” who lived in the carriage house at the same time.  Slim Williford lived on the second level and Slim, a transient, lived on the ground level.  The yard along Lummus Drive had chicken houses where Buff Orphington chickens were raised.  These chickens were symbolic of great value and high quality. Orchards and gardens were along the Muldrow side of the block with the front street being College Road (now University Drive). 
The photo of the mansion shows a tree-lined circle drive leading down the hill to College Road. The sloping hillside down from the carriage house beside Maxwell Street was a bank of beautiful pink roses.
Wilburn R. Page, Jr. purchased the residence Aug. 1, 1936 and developed the Colonial Heights subdivision in 1937.  Original plans show 24 lots plotted on it, however, only four houses were built on the property.  Page Avenue was developed which ran south from College Road and turned right into Maxwell Street to exit at the top of the hill.  He converted the mansion into apartments.
Other homes included  R. E. Saye on the left and on the right was, W. V. Shearer, H. E. Ready and D. W. Rivers (1960 Street Directory). 
There were gates marking Colonial Heights establishment which were very similar to the gate of the MSU campus further east at the Hunter Henry Center.
Dan Camp purchased the Muldrow-Washington-Page house and remodeled it but kept it as apartments.  Instead of growing agriculture, Camp grows meticulously designed houses. Where the chicken houses once stood, now stands a group of houses, Camp calls the four Apostles (three-story apartment complexes).  Where the carriage house and cow pasture were on the Maxwell Street side is the Seven Sisters.  Where the orchards and gardens were on the left of the mansion, he designed five Mississippi houses. 
In short, he took one acre of land of the five-acre square block on which stood the colonial mansion and put about 30 units on it.  Camp also purchased the Saye and Shearer residences, which have been converted into student dwellings. 
George McKee purchased the Rivers residence, which was previously the Kappa Alpha Fraternity house and developed it into an apartment complex. The remaining frontage of the square block on University was purchased by Dan Camp where he built The Cotton District Plaza, a beautiful show-place with an original fountain designed by his son, Bonn Camp.

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