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William Frederick Holmes House
WILLIAM FREDERICK HOLMES HOUSE, MCCOMB, PIKE COUNTY, MS.jpg
2008 photo of the house
Location 302 Third St., McComb, Mississippi
Area less than one acre
Built 1894
Architectural style Queen Anne
NRHP reference No. 04000216
Added to NRHP March 22, 2004

The William Frederick Holmes House, also known as Theosa, is a historic Queen Anne-style house in McComb, Mississippi. It was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Theosa received her name from the present owner in the year 2000. The owner reports that after trying for several years to find a name to fit the old house, the owner finally found the name Theosa and thought it suited her very nicely.

History

Originally, there was another house already existing on this site. It had been built by the grandfather of the lady who, until recently, still lived in that self-same house. It was moved 2 lots back from the corner to be reinstalled to the rear of Theosa facing onto Nebraska Street.

The house was built by William Frederick Holmes for his wife, Katie Jones Holmes, in 1894, with the highest quality materials. Mr. Holmes purchased this lot in December 1893 and according to Courthouse records, he took out a loan in January 1894. It is presumed that construction began shortly thereafter. The house stayed in the ownership of the Holmes Family until 1936.

The house was built with real plaster walls and ceilings at a time when almost no homes were being built in the area with real plaster. Most area homes had rough-sawn butt-jointed board walls with cheesecloth under wallpaper. Examples of homes in this area being sold with these kinds of interior board and paper wall construction can still be seen.

Long-leaf pine was used for framing, and Heart Pine was used for the flooring on the 1st and 2nd Floors. The exterior clapboards and trim were made of cypress, making the house very strong and exceptionally weather and termite-resistant. At the time of Theosa's construction, there was a millwork factory operating in town as an offshoot of the thriving lumber business in the area. Part of the millwork in the house was mass-produced in that mill. It mainly consists of the wainscoting in halls and stairwell. The same wainscoting pattern is also used in the 2nd Floor Bathroom.

Mr. Holmes and his brother "Hib" owned the Holmes Bros. Store on Main Street just 3 blocks away. There were several of the Holmes brothers who were prominent in McComb in its early days and this is one of 3 "Holmes Homes" that still exist in McComb. The other two Holmes houses are of brick and embrace the Neo-Classical style.

A feature of the house is the 2nd floor bathroom which has a footed tub imported from England. It measures about 7 feet (2.1 m) long by 3 feet (0.91 m) deep and nearly 3 feet (0.91 m) wide. The owner still has the (original?) brass telephone shower and tub spout stored in a box (which did leak unfortunately). The owner has been told that there are people in Boston still know how to re-grind a brass on brass sealing washer to stop it from leaking, but hasn't found them yet. This style of brass telephone bath/shower hardware is available in reproduction catalogues.

For about 8 years during the Great Depression, the house was used as the Crittenden Funeral Home. Based on the ownership records at the Courthouse, it appears this was probably a commercial lease or rental of the property. It then sat vacant for many years before being purchased by the Crosby family, who used it as their family home.

Mr. And Mrs. A. J. Crosby purchased the home on October 15, 1936 and in the early 1940s built the detached 3 car garage with the 1 bedroom apartment above the garage at the rear of the property. After Mr. Crosby passed on, Mrs. Crosby rented out rooms to permanent boarders, turning it into a respectable boarding house. A current neighbor reported that three of Mrs. Crosby's boarders were Mr. Maddox, an elderly gentlemen and his two spinster daughters who stayed there for years.

The house then sat empty and neglected for many years before being purchased by Rev. and Mrs. Jerome Bourne (a Pentecostal preacher) on October 3, 1979. The Bourne's redecorated the house in a style that pleased them. They added blown popcorn ceiling spray over the original smooth plaster ceilings, colorful wall-coverings and a few 1950's style chandeliers that were not in keeping with the architectural spirit of the house. They upgraded some of the original post and cable wiring and carpeted the walls in portions of the 3rd Floor. Also, they updated and modernized the kitchen, removing what had been a Butler's Pantry and sheet-rocking over the original beaded board walls and installing vinyl sheet flooring in the kitchen and Dinette (as it is now called). Reverend Jerome Bourne was also a finish carpenter and built and installed hardwood veneered plywood kitchen cabinets.

The Bourne's relocated to Dallas, Texas after a few years and the house sat empty most of the time with sporadic rentals. They had allowed several windows to rot out leaving the house exposed to the elements and had not repaired several holes in the roof for quite some time.

The current owner saw the house in July 1994, with a yard that was over 3 ft. high and in a very sad state of neglect, but the interior architectural features were abundant and lovely. The exterior was clad with aluminum siding, but it was apparent that the house had "good bones" under all that grime, neglect, and dented metal. The closing on the house was on October 24, 1994 and the owner began renovations and the process to get her listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In its NRHP nomination, it was asserted to be "one of the largest and most prominent examples of Victorian Queen Anne residential architecture in McComb, and is one of several noteworthy examples in Pike County."

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