Soon after the Revolution, settlers swept to the banks of the Mississippi River and began drifting down from Kentucky and Tennessee into northern Alabama, another center of early settlement. After the last Indians were removed in the late 1830’s, another wave of settlers flooded into central Alabama and central and northern Mississippi. Mississippi and Alabama enjoyed their greatest prosperity during the heyday of the Greek Revival and produced a surprising variety and quality of buildings in the relatively brief period that remained before the outbreak of the Civil War. With the hottest, longest and most humid summers in the region, these states produced the most “Southern” buildings of the Old South, surrounded by monumental porticoes and grand colonnades.
Among the famous and sometimes surprising buildings to be found in this book are Auburn, the first house with a monumental Classical portico in the Mississippi Territory, built by a Yankee from Massachusetts; Belle Mont, a small but elegant Palladian farmhouse built for a Virginian who came to early Alabama; Waverley, a Greek Revival plantation house outside Columbus, Mississippi, featuring a seventy-foot-high central hall surrounded by balconies rising four stories to a cupola; Gaineswood, another Greek Revival plantation house, in Alabama, this one enlarged from a log cabin that can still be found within its now palatial walls; the Chapel of the Cross at Mannsdale, Mississippi, the first “correct” gothic church in the Territory, copied from a magazine published in New York City, copying a specific medieval church in England; and Longwood, the largest and most luxurious octagonal house in America, but one left incomplete when the Northern workmen who were building it fled back home after the outbreak of the Civil War.
Like other books in this series, we find here that most of the South’s greatest buildings were built by Northerners, whose contributions to Southern society and architecture have long been unappreciated.