The McNutt House: A House of Stories
by Meshea Crysup
Rediscovering Historic Vicksburg, RHV Books &
Civil War Bloggers...& More Network
I do not know about other bloggers, but for me, the best posts tend to take on a life of their own. I no longer wrestle with creating them. Each topic, place, event, etc. has its own unique energy. Their stories already exist and need not be created by me—only felt, sensed, or recognized, then shared. I revisit each subject matter literally, and, via pictures or memories, and allow it to turn over and over in my mind. Consciously and unconsciously, I follow it down one path, then another, as feelings, facts, and words converge until, ultimately, it writes itself.
Perhaps it is because of the fibro flare I have been in, but this post seemed to be resisting my process. It was not that a story was lacking—just the opposite! Today, the fibro fog cleared a bit, allowing me to see, feel, and articulate the obvious…
The McNutt House is a House of Stories.
The McNutt House: A House of Stories
My first experience with McNutt House was as part of a local tour and limited to the outside of the house and the grounds. After meeting one of the owners, before writing about it, I drove back by at various times of the day, stopping to take a few pictures. Then, twice before meeting with Elvin and Pam, I spent some time in the courtyard and gardens. I took more pictures, but I also spent some time just taking it all in. Though a stranger, I felt welcome. Though just visiting, I felt the kind of peace one feels “at home”. Though there for “just a story”, some part of me was already in touch with much more, but not because I am gifted or special in any way—but because McNutt House is special!
Each time I have been outside of the McNutt House, I have been struck by this feeling that it does not belong to any one period in time. It does not have one period-specific look, but then it is not just one house either. There are actually three houses on the property: The McNutt House, The Magill House, and Maggie’s Hall. Then, there is the property itself! The grounds are a series of intimate gardens and a courtyard accessed by a pathway here and a stairway there. Before even entering the main house, the reverberations of a varied history—not just one story, but many stories—are evident.
Once actually inside the main house—McNutt House—the predominately antebellum legacy of Vicksburg’s third oldest surviving home, circa 1826, is initially visually evident. A closer look, however, reveals hints that this is not a house frozen in time. It is actually a home, still alive with the stories of more than one family and more than one era.
As if this were not enough to draw one to McNutt House, thankfully its stories have been entrusted to the right couple. Whether one believes that some things are just “meant to be” or not, one need only spend a few minutes with the owners, Pam and Elvin McFerrin, to sense that they belong there.
Pam, a Vicksburg native, has a familial connection to the property. From this, unique insights and information have been gained, beyond the usual, “Well, legend has it…” or “The story goes…” She is literally a modern extension of this home’s story. However, while embracing and aware of this, Pam lives her part in this home’s continued, evolving history, in subtle ways—tending to her gardens, her business, and her guests, metaphorically tending to her legacy.
Elvin, however, beyond what even he realizes, is enthralled by it all! From the moment he opens The McNutt House Tour until the very end, his enthusiasm in sharing all he has learned during his evolution from accountant to historic homeowner/innkeeper is infectious. As if he were born for just exactly this purpose, the stories flow from him, one-after-another—each with such zeal and gusto that one could easily believe he is telling them for the very first time!
Elvin does not rely on “just the stories”, although they are indeed interesting enough that he could well do so. Having gone the extra mile, he and Pam have drawn from both of their family’s heritage, creating a unique collection of furnishings, household items, and other collectables that bring many of the stories into view, literally. As he actually takes each piece of the past into his hand, Elvin skillfully melds history and heritage into a tour that encompasses far more than an antebellum home in Historic Vicksburg.
Starting with the fact that it is a “Virginia Farm-style” rather than the traditional Vicksburg-antebellum one might expect, moving on through the list of interesting historic figures and characters who have owned and lived there—and are still there in some ways—the tour never lags, nor does the main house, the other structures, and the grounds ever run out of interesting facts and tales!
The twelfth governor of Mississippi and his wife lived there, among others. Although not the original owner, Governor McNutt’s name, as is usually the case when someone famous—or infamous—has been involved, is the one that has remained attached to the property.
There are love stories—possibly a love triangle—to hear. Tales of politics, finances, death, and murder will unfold! Even the purchasing of the “Family Silver Service” is not without its own interesting twists!
Having survived the “Siege of Vicksburg”, of course there are Civil War stories and related items on site associated with the house and grounds.
The property also served as a school for a period of time and was formerly also known as The Governor’s Inn.
I never give away the actual stories when writing about a tour home or historical location, but I assure you, McNutt House is the house that, as far as stories go, just keeps on giving!