Walthall House was built in 1848 by Barrett Walthall (1799-1881), who settled here from Virginia with his family in 1841. Barrett’s son Edward C. Walthall (1831-1898) was raised in this home, and attended St. Thomas School. Eventually Walthall went into law and became a Confederate General during the Civil War and a United States Senator after the war, serving from 1885 until his death in 1898. Walthall County in Mississippi is named after Edward Walthall.
After Barrett Walthall’s death in 1881, the house was given to Barrett’s daughter Kate Walthall Freeman (1829-1919), who lived here for many decades. After 1885, Kate was joined by her newly-widowed daughter Cary Walthall Freeman Clark (1850-1922) and granddaughter Kate Freeman Clark (1875-1957).
Kate Freeman Clark traveled to New York City in the 1890s, where she lived for 30 years. Clark became interested in art, and enrolled at the Art Students League school, studying under artists John Henry Twachtman, Irving Ramsay Wiles and the famous William Merritt Chase. During her time in New York City, Clark created over 1,000 paintings, all of which she stored in a warehouse in New York when she moved back to Holly Springs in 1924. Clark never painted again, and few of her friends and neighbors knew of her artistic talents. Clark became something of a recluse and “cat lady”, and lived in the Walthall House until she died in 1957.
After Kate Freeman Clark’s death, her many paintings were bequeathed to Holly Springs, and the Kate Freeman Clark Art Gallery was built next door to Walthall House. Many of her paintings can still be viewed at this art gallery.
Walthall House and the Kate Freeman Art Gallery are owned by the Kate Freeman Clark Trust. Bea Green currently lives in the house.
The home was originally built as a log cabin, and was enlarged in 1848. The three-bay porch contains posts with millwork trim and arched openings. Kate Freeman Clark added a studio on the second floor when she returned to Holly Springs in 1924, but this structure was removed after she died in 1957.