Holly Springs: Featherston Place (1837)

Featherston Place was built in 1837 by Alexander C. McEwen (1806-1869), one of the earliest settlers in Marshall County.  McEwen, who was born and raised in Tennessee, arrived in Holly Springs in October of 1835, several months before the first lots in town were sold.  McEwen opened one of the very first businesses in the new town, and is credited with giving the town its name when his first shipment of goods was shipped to “Holly Springs”.  McEwen was very involved in the founding of Holly Springs and the creation and support of several early institutions, including the Literary Institute (later to be called Chalmers Institute), the Female Collegiate Institute, and a business on the south side of the Square.  McEwen and his wife Eliza Byers McEwen (1807-1892) were longtime members and supports of the Presbyterian Church in Holly Springs.

McEwen first built a log cabin at the site of his future house, which he replaced with this home in 1837.  After an unfortunate attempt at creating a bank in town, McEwen went bankrupt and lost this home to his creditors.  Fortunately, McEwen’s father-in-law, William Byers, bought the house out of foreclosure in 1841, and after several years of ownership, deeded the house back to his daughter, Eliza, in 1848.

McEwen and his wife had a daughter, Elizabeth “Lizzie” McEwen Featherston (1834-1878), who married General Winfield Scott Featherston (1820-1891).  Featherston was an attorney from Tennessee who served as a Representative in Congress for two terms in 1840s and 1850s before arriving in Holly Springs in 1857.  Featherston married Lizzie McEwen and the couple lived in the McEwen-Featherston House.  During the Civil War, Featherston obtained the rank of Brigadier General, fighting in the Battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg and Atlanta.  After the end of the Civil War, General Featherston served as a Mississippi State legislator from 1876 to 1880, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1880 and a member of the State Constitutional Convention in 1891.  Tragedy struck the Featherston-McEwen family in 1878, when Featherston’s wife Lizzie and two of his children were killed in the Yellow Fever Epidemic.

In 1901, General Featherston’s surviving daughter, Elise Featherston Beall (1869-1939) sold Featherston Place to Oscar Johnson, the Marshall County native who had moved to St. Louis and opened the Roberts, Johnson and Rand Company (later renamed the International Shoe Company).  Johnson returned to Holly Springs and purchased Walter Place, and then bought many of the houses in the same neighborhood, including Featherston Place, and began the construction of Johnson Park.  As part of his development, Johnson hired noted St. Louis architect Theodore C. Link to redesign and restore Featherston Place.  Link added several Georgian architectural elements to the original Greek Revival house.  During this time, Featherston Place was used as a guest house for the Johnson family.  Sadly, Johnson’s death resulted in Johnson Park being unfinished.

In 1919, Johnson’s widow Irene Johnson sold the house to Martin A. Greene (1854-1921), who then quickly resold the house to George M. Buchanan (1888-1956) and his wife Helen Buchanan (1892-1968).  George Buchanan was the Mayor of Holly Springs for many years.  The Buchanan family lived at Featherston Place for nearly 80 years, before the family sold the house to Charles and Jane Farris in 1998.  After one year, the Farris family sold the house to Michael and Jorja Lynn.  The Lynns attempted to complete the work started by Oscar Johnson, and Featherston Place was again attached to the larger Walter Place and Johnson Park project.  After Michael’s death, Jorja continued to live in the home.  As of 2017, Featherston Place is owned by Regions Bank and is currently for sale.

Featherston Place is widely known to be one of the most haunted houses in Holly Springs.  The ghost of Lizzie McEwen, who died tragically in the Yellow Fever Epidemic, is said to haunt the house, and her spirit has been well known to generations of families who have lived in the house.

Featherston Place is a one-and-one-half-story, raised-basement multi-gable-on-hip-roof frame Greek Revival house, with single-bay pedimented portico supported by Tuscan columns.  A second, identical pedimented portico supported by Tuscan columns is located on the east facade, facing the street. Both porticos were added during the Theodore Link renovation in the early 1900s.  The main entrance is surrounded by sidelights and and an elliptical fanlight.

One thought on “Holly Springs: Featherston Place (1837)

  1. Pingback: Holly Springs: Polk Place (1849) – Hill Country History

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