Watson House was built by Judge John William Clark Watson (1808-1890) in 1853, in a Greek Revival temple- style, similar to the Hugh Craft House across town. J. W. C. Watson was an early settler to Holly Springs, who arrived from Virginia in 1845 and opened a law practice in town. During the Civil War, Watson served as a Mississippi delegate to the Confederate Senate from 1863 until 1865. After the end of the Civil War, Watson served for a time in the Mississippi Legislature.
Though two of his sons died fighting for the Confederacy during the CIvil War, Watson was a voice of moderation after the end of the war and during Reconstruction. He fought to educate former slaves, and when the Mississippi legislature refused to ratify the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, he left the Legislature in disgust. The highlight of Watson’s law career came when he defended a Mississippi law in front of the United States Supreme Court. Watson served as Circuit Court Judge from 1876 to 1882. Watson was also a elder in the Presbyterian church.
During the Civil War, Watson’s daughter Elizabeth “Lizzie” Davis Watson opened a girls school in the back parlor of Watson House, and continued to educate girls here for many decades. Eventually Watson House became a dormitory for the later Maury Institute and Mississippi Synodical College.
After the Mississippi Synodical College closed in 1939, Watson House sat empty for several years, before it was demolished in about 1945. For the history of the building that replaced Watson House on this lot (the North Mississippi Hospital), please click here.