Burton Place was built by Mary Malvina Shields Burton (1806-1875) in 1848.  Mary built the home soon after divorcing her husband, Philip Burton.  The house was built to look like the kinds of houses Mary would have been familiar with in Rockbridge County, Virginia, where Mary was born.  After Mary passed away in 1875, the house went to Mary’s son, John Shields Burton (1838-1904) and his wife Priscilla Wooten Burton.

After John Shields Burton passed away in 1904, his wife Priscilla continued owning the house until she willed the home to her and John’s daughter, Mary Burton, in 1921.  Mary eventually married Robert A. Tyson.  After Mary’s death, Burton Place passed to her husband  Robert Tyson, who soon remarried to Marjorie King, and the two had a young daughter named Marjorie Harriett Tyson.  After Marjorie King’s early death, Robert Tyson married a third time, to Ruth McSweyn in 1951.  After Tyson’s death in 1953, Burton Place was owned by  Ruth McSweyn Tyson until her death in 1983.  Several years of litigation between the McSweyn and Tyson family eventually resulted in Marjorie Harriett Tyson owning the house.  Marjorie Harriett Tyson owned the house until 2005, when she sold it to David Person.  David has conducted extensive renovations in the house since purchasing it.

Burton Place has both Federal and Greek Revival architecture details.  It is a two-story flanking-gable brick structure with interior end chimneys, a front portico supported by Tuscan paired piers, and main entrance with transom and sidelights.

Burton Place sits on its original antebellum city lot, which is rare for most Holly Spring houses.  For many years it was called “Fleur de Lys” after the decorative cast-iron fence that surrounds the property.  This fence originally encircled the Courthouse on the square, between 1872 and 1927.

Thanks to David Person and Bobby Seale who both provided some history and clarity to the rather-complicated story of Burton Place’s previous owners.

7 thoughts

  1. Mr. Knecht, I remember Mrs. Mary Burton Tyson when she visited my grandmother, Etta Williamson Seale. After she died I thought Bob Tyson married a King girl from Mt. Pleasant and that she was the mother of Harriett. My memory may not be correct about this. Then he married Ruth when he and the King girl divorced.
    Mrs. Mary’s hearing was bad and she used a “horn” to hear. I was fascinated with that horn.


    1. Thank you very much for the information Bobby! You and David Person (the current owner) both supplied me with this updated info at the same time, so thanks to you both! I did a bit of “historical extrapolation” when I couldn’t determine the exact relationship between Mary Burton, Bob Tyson and Harriett Tyson. Deed work, book research and internet searches only go so far, and this shows everyone how important local knowledge is to historical research and preservation. Thanks again for the stories!


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