White Pillars was built in 1838, at the corner of what is today Maury Street and Falconer Avenue. The original deed states that Martin Tally built the first house on this site, but local lore has always claimed that Judge Thomas Falconer (1808-1878) built the house after moving to Holly Springs in 1838. Judge Falconer first appears on an actual deed in 1847. The original house on this site was a frame, one-story cottage which faced south. It was in this house that Judge Falconer and his wife Sophronia Stith Falconer (1817-1875) raised their four children: Howard Falconer (1836-1878), Kinloch Falconer (1838-1878), Sophronia Falconer (1845-1870) and Henry Stith Falconer (1854-1887).
The Falconer family had a illustrious, if tragic, history. In 1849, Judge Falconer left Holly Springs for California in the Gold Rush. When the Judge failed to strike it rich, he returned to Holly Springs and to this house and began to operate the local Whig newspaper. Both Howard and Kinloch Falconer became attorneys in the late 1850s. In 1861, after the beginning of the Civil War, Thomas, Howard and Kinloch would all join the 9th Mississippi Infantry and were stationed at Pensacola for the first year of the war. Thomas Falconer was discharged due to ill health, and returned to Holly Springs. Howard Falconer was captured during the Battle of Perryville in 1862 and spent several months as a prisoner of war. In 1864, Howard was elected to the Mississippi legislature. Kinloch Falconer eventually became the Assistant Adjutant of the Army of Tennessee under General Bragg.
After the end of the Civil War, Thomas and Howard Falconer went back into the newspaper business in Holly Springs, while Kinloch went into politics, eventually becoming the Secretary of State in Mississippi under Governor Stone. In 1870, the Falconers greatly expanded and renovated this home, hiring famed local architect Spires Bolling to turn the home into a large, two-story frame Greek Revival house, with Bolling’s trademark octagonal columns. The Falconer family did not get to enjoy their new house for long. One by one, tragedy struck the family. Young Sophronia Falconer died of an illness in 1870, as did Thomas’s wife Sophronia in 1875. When Yellow Fever hit Holly Springs in 1878, Kinloch returned home from Jackson and helped his brother and father to give aid to the local citizens suffering from the plague. Sadly, all three Falconer men died from the Yellow Fever. The youngest Falconer, Henry Stith Falconer, died in a train accident several years later, leaving behind a wife and children. Henry’s wife sold the house in 1883, ending a fifty year association between the Falconers and White Pillars.
In 1883 the house was bought by Joseph Bowen Mattison (1836-1910) and his wife Kate Jackson Mattison (1839-1918). The Mattisons owned the house until 1885, when they sold it to Addison Craft (1835-1909), who owned White Pillars until 1891. Dr. Benjamin McKie (1842-1911) and his wife Mary Lucas McKie (1848-1931) owned the home from 1891 until 1920.
M. B. Ogletree owned White Pillars from 1920 until 1926, when he sold the house to Edgar Wiggin Francisco (d. 1940). The Francisco family owned White Pillars for nearly forty years. In 1963, the house was purchased by Dr. Joseph A. Hale (1930-2007), a local amateur historian and preservationist who owned and preserved several local historic homes. It was Dr. Hale who gave the house its name “White Pillars”. In 1982, Dr. Hale sold the home to local attorney John L. Kennedy (1956-2005), who conducted extensive renovations to the house in 1985, including the addition of a brick veneer over the frame house, the replacement of the original three-bay balcony with a full-width balcony and significant changes to the roof line.
The house was owned by Susan McGowan from 1989 until 1994, and owned by Joseph Miller from 1994 until 1996. In 1996 White Pillars was purchased by Robert and Helen Gilstrap, who owned the home until 2015. John and Judy Forester have owned the house since 2015.
White Pillars is a Greek Revival, two-story flanking-gable frame house with brick veneer, with a five-bay undercut gallery supported by octagonal columns and a five-bay balcony.