Wakefield, one of the great Greek Revival mansions on so-called “Silk Stocking Row” (today’s Salem Avenue), was built in 1858 by Joel E. Wynne (1812-1885).  Wynne was a wealthy merchant, originally from Waterford, who moved to Holly Springs in the 1840s and married the daughter of Dr. David Pointer, who had also recently built the Greek Revival mansion Pointer House across the street from this home.  The Wynne House was almost certainly constructed by noted local architect Spires Boling (1812-1880), who built all of the other major Greek Revival mansions in Holly Springs.

Wynne and his family moved from Holly Springs to Arkansas just before the beginning of the Civil War, allegedly fleeing from the conflict they knew was coming to Holly Springs.  Wynne moved to Memphis after the Civil War, but always considered Holly Springs and was buried here after his death in 1885.  The Wynne family also donated to the City the iron gates which mark the entrance to Hill Crest Cemetery.

In 1866, Wynne sold this house to Mrs. Ann Dickens, a widow from Kentucky, who had moved here with her young children during the Civil War.  During the Union occupation of Holly Springs throughout the war, the house was occupied by Union commander Lieutenant Walker A. Newton.  Initially, Newton treated Dickens and her family brusquely, forcing them to live in one bedroom upstairs.  However, Newton and Dickens fell in love, and their affair became one of the most talked about scandals in Holly Springs at the time, and was even included in a scene in Like Unto Like, the novel of local author Sherwood Bonner (who lived directly across from the Wynne House in Cedarhurst).  Dickens married Newton, and the Newton family continued to live in Wakefield throughout the Civil War and through the Federal occupation of Holly Springs during Reconstruction.

In 1880, the Newtons sold the house to John Calhoon and his wife Sallie Calhoon (1847-1916).  The Calhoons lived here until the late 1890s.  According to local legend, Wakefield was lost in a poker game on Christmas Eve of 1898.  While this legend could certainly be true, it should be noted that the names of the poker game players have never been revealed.  There is a good amount of deed activity during late 1898 and early 1899, including land transfers between four individuals (Trustee George Buchanan, John S. Burton, J. I. Blythe, and John S. Sowell), which supports the theory that something “interesting”, like a poker match with a house at stake, actually happened.

However he received the home, John S. Sowell (1853-1934) and his wife Laura A. Sowell (1859-1938) lived in the house from 1899 until 1938.  After Laura Sowell’s death in 1938, her children and heirs gave the house to their sister Madison U. Sowell (1886-1960).  After only one year, the house finally left the Sowell family when it was sold to Mack C. Simpson Sr. (1878-1954) and his wife Willie Simpson (1882-1972).  The Simpson family owned the house until 1973, when the Simpson children sold the house to Dudley Rook Moore III and his wife Marie Moore, who have owned the house now for nearly 50 years, and continue to own it today.

The Wynne-Sowell House was renamed by the Moores to “Wakefield”, named after Rook Moore’s ancestor Elizabeth Wakefield.

Wakefield is a two-story flanking-gable brick Greek Revival mansion, with tetrastyle portico supported by cast iron Corinthian columns.  Both the main entrance and the second-floor door are surrounded by sidelights and transoms.  The second-floor door has a single-bay cast iron balcony.  There are iron lintels above all of the front windows.  There is a long brick walkway from the street to the house lined by mature cedar trees.

6 thoughts

  1. Long over due focus on this lovely home-it seems to age beautifully!! Lovely surrounds,too! Joel was my g-g-grdmother Betsy Trotter’s brother. (judge Trotters home was across the street at Chesterman-I have a photo of it before it burned) Trotter owned several lots in north side of Salem. Lovely historic street! Thanks Phil!!! Best David


    1. Thank you David! I agree this post has been long over due. To be honest, I’ve been waiting on another snow day like we received this weekend, because this house looks beautiful in the snow. I plan on showcasing the old Trotter home in one of my “Lost History” blog posts soon.


  2. Very interesting article! My grand aunt was Sara Simpson…Mack Jr.’s wife. I really enjoyed reading about the Simpson connection!


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