The Arthur-McDowell House was built around 1836 by William Arthur (1811-1882), an early settler to Holly Springs who became a very wealthy planter. Like all other early homes in Holly Springs, this house started as a two-room dog trot log cabin, which was added onto over the years. The house contained a very unusual ballroom, which was the talk of the town for many years. The original Arthur house was largely destroyed by fire in 1865, at the end of the Civil War.
After the Civil War, the property was bought by Joseph Cocke, who rebuilt a home on the same lot. In 1883 Cocke sold the house and land to Judge James Fant (1838-1895), who lived next door in the McGowan-Crawford House (today’s Montrose). The Fants owned the property until 1898, when they sold it to Robert McDowell.
The McDowells lived in the house well into the 20th century. Between 1925 and 1933 (see 1925 Sanborn Map) the second house built on the lot was destroyed by fire. Today there is no trace of the former house, and the beautiful Montrose Arboretum is located on the lot.
The houses on this lot were built at the very back of the lot, resulting in one of the largest front yards in Holly Springs. In the 1850s, this land was going to be the site of the Holly Springs Depot, until the local citizens demanded the Depot be built in its current location, which was then outside the town. In the 1870s, the short-lived Holly Springs trolly ran behind the McDowell House, on its way from the Square and to the Depot.
The picture of the original Arthur House is courtesy of Hubert McAlexander and comes from his excellent local history, A Southern Tapestry: Marshall County, Mississippi, 1835-2000.