Colonsay Cottage was built in 1840 by James L. Levy, and was an early example of a Greek Revival cottage.  In 1859, the home was purchased by Captain William Clark and his wife Mary Barton Clark (d. 1888).  Captain Clark served in the Confederate army, but he was known more as a local educator.  During the 1850s, Clark was a teacher at St. Thomas Hall (1844).  After the beginning of the Civil War, Clark joined with Lizzie Watson to form a new girl’s school which would eventually be known as Mississippi Synodical College (1864).  Soon after the Civil War ended, Clark established a new school called Fenelon Hall (named after Francois Fenelon, a French teacher) inside this home.  In 1869, Clark would also re-found Franklin Female College (1849).  Decades later, Clark’s sister-in-law Rosa Barton Tyler (1841-1937) established another version of Fenelon Hall in the house, which lasted from 1893 until 1908.

In 1874, the Clarks sold the house to Dr. Willis Lea (1802-1878).  After Dr. Lea’s death in 1878, his daughter Lucy Lea owned the house until 1904.  Between 1904 and 1908 the home was owned by B. F. Laurence (1854-1915),  and between 1908 and 1919 the home was owned by J. C. Miller.  In 1919, the house was purchased by Conway “Con” Bonds (1883-1950) and his wife Bertha Bonds (1885-1978).  Their daughter, Lois Swaney, grew up in this house.

In 1950, the house was bought by George M. Buchanan Jr. (1913-2001).  The Buchanan’s renamed the house “Colonsay Cottage” after the ancestral Buchanan home in Scotland.  The Buchanan family owned the house for 52 years, before selling it in 2002 to John Dudley.  Dudley owned the house from 2002 until 2008.  Thomas and Lisa Phillips owned the house from 2008 until 2016.  Stephen and Dottie Gozan have owned Colonsay Cottage since 2016.

Colonsay Cottage has gone through at least three major renovations throughout its history, resulting in the current house sharing little of the original home’s historic integrity.  Between 1907 and 1925, the original west wing of the house was removed, and a new front porch was added (see 1907 and 1925 Sanborn Maps and the pre-1950 picture above).  In the 1950s, the Buchanans removed the front porch and added a new Gothic front door, which was salvaged from a destroyed Gothic house on Craft Street.  Sidelights and a Tudor arched transom window was added.  A second-story dormer window was also removed at this time.  In the 2010s, a third restoration resulted in the alteration of the brick exterior and removal of many of the features added during the 1950s, along with the return of the front porch.

Colonsay Cottage is a single-story flanking-gable brick Greek Revival house, with exterior end chimneys and a three-bay porch supported by square columns.

4 thoughts

  1. My name is Clark Dowell Lea. This appears to be my ancestral home. My father was William Lea who was born and raised in Holly Springs. His aunt was Lucy B. Lea. My mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Clark Dowell and her mother’s maiden name was Mary Barton Gohlson. My grandmother’s mother was Lizzie Clark. My mother was a high school graduate from Mississippi Synodical College.


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