Hillside was built in 1861 by Franz Wilhelm Rittelmeyer (1824-1877), a German-born carpenter.  Rittelmeyer and his wife Mary Elizabeth “Eliza” Rittelmeyer (1826-1909) immigrated from Prussia to the United States on November 8, 1851, arriving at the port of New Orleans on the ship Ernestine.  The Rittelmeyers settled in Memphis, Tennessee, where they lived until 1857.  In that year, Franz was hired as the master carpenter for Airliewood , the Gothic Revival mansion built by the Coxe family in Holly Springs.  The Rittelmeyers moved to Holly Springs, where they built a small cottage, now called the Gaw House, just west of the railroad.

In about 1861, Franz Rittelmeyer (who now anglicized his name as Francis William Rittelmeyer) built his own masterpiece, the Italianate and Gothic Revival Rittelmeyer House.  Located on a prominent hill east of the town center, the home was one of the best examples of Italianate/Gothic architecture in the area.  After Francis and Eliza’s death, their daughter Emma Rittelmeyer (1854-1936) lived in the house.  The Rittelmeyers owned the house for 75 years, until Mack C. Simpson Sr. (1878-1854) purchased the house in 1936.

Between 1945 and 1968, Hillside was owned by Curtis P. Ayers Jr. and his family.  Glenn E. Hascher owned the house from 1968 to 1972, and Samuel B. West Jr. (1923-1992) and his family lived here from 1972 until 1999.  Christian and Jennifer Knox lived in the house between 1999 and 2006, when it was sold to Wallace Lester and Shannon McNally.  Wallace Lester has owned the house since 2016.

Hillside is an Italianate and Gothic Revival one-and-a-half-story flanking-gable frame house, with front-gable dormers with brackets and arched windows.  There is a three-bay porch with Gothic arch openings and spandrels with quatrafoil motifs.  A two-story hip-roof tower on the west elevation has a flat roof bay with paired windows and bracketed hood.

14 thoughts

  1. I grew up in Holly Springs and visit every year. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty and architecture of the area. I have seen no mention of Cedar Crest in Red Banks. It was for sale some years ago but belie it was rented.its in a beautiful setting on 7 or 8 acres built around 1848. Any news of it? Thank you, Billy Blaylock


    1. Cedar Crest was my great grandmothers home. We spent much time there at family gatherings, etc. The main change they made is that they put a real front door on the screened in breezeway. I imagine they had to update the kitchen completely and the back breeze way which was built at odd, non level angles. My family has one of the four poster beds that were inside. My father took old wood from one of the barns in the property and glued them to the walls as wall paper in his study. That house is in Germantown TN. I wonder if the wood is still on the walls.


    1. William Franz Rittlemyer was my great great grandfather and my great aunt Lucille Cavanaugh was born there


  2. Sorry no. We weren’t related to the Rittlemeyers. I moved there with my folks as a 3 1/2 year old and left after graduation from Ole Miss and going on active duty.. I just rode by there last week and was glad to see some activity. I can check by next trip and show you where the ghosts are if you want. LOL


  3. I just found a postcard from my great grandmother, Lucille (Rittlemeyer) McCarter of Hillside and on the back she wrote “I was born in this house second floor front room Aug 17 -1897” The postcard was dated 3-21-64

    I do have some old photos of Rittlemeyers that we just found in my grandmother’s attic. I haven’t figured out exactly who is who yet.


    1. Wow! I’d be interested in what you discover as I lived there from 1944 thru 1965; thus, I am puzzled by the 1964 postmark date. .


      1. It was a postcard with a drawing of the house and she just wrote it on there. It wasn’t mailed.


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