A Southern Fried Mess

Insanity is a southern necessity…

A Southern Lady

As I’ve stated before, I love old homes. But this one is my all time favorite. It’s what sparked my passion for old buildings, history, and photography when I was just a child. Her name is Bell Grove.

As a Christmas present one year, my mother bought me a book called Ghost along the Mississippi. I would sit for hours reading and looking at the pictures taken by Clarence Laughlin of her.  Even in decay and despair, she was an absolute beauty to behold; fine lines, graceful carvings, just the shear massiveness of her mixed with such sadness and longing.

I used to pretend that I would be her savior.  Clearly, I was unaware of the massive price tag or undertaking to accomplish such a project. But when you are eight years old, none of that matters.

I would dream of times gone by and wonder about her former owners.  What was it like to run across her marble-laden floors barefooted? Was it fun as a child to make faces in the silver door knobs or slide down her spiral staircase banister? Or better yet, what was it like to dance the night away in her enormous ball room, dressed to the hilt in fine evening ware? Oh what a treat it must have been, to gaze out onto the mighty Mississippi river over the tops of the moss-draped oaks and watch the sun set.

Sadly, as it always did, all of this would come to a crashing halt when I would read the last few sentences of the article. She had been burned to the ground long before I ever came to be.  Those words never failed to make me cry. I would wipe my eyes and close the book, saving the sad, breathtaking pictures of her for another day.

I stumbled across this book just recently as we prepared our house to be put on the market…again.  Glee and goose bumps flooded over me as I dropped everything and quickly tore open the book to the well worn pages showing the beauty. Just for a fleeting moment, I was eight years old again; It was just like old times. Only this time my childhood wonderment was now tainted with adult rationality, and I smiled.  Such is the way of things…


August 26, 2008 - Posted by | photography, Uncategorized | ,


  1. Beautiful, I would love to see it in its day!

    You and me both, honey. There is an old ugly (very ugly) ranch style home now sitting where the plantation used to be. Only two of the original oak trees are left on the property. Thanks for stopping by!

    Comment by Lissa | August 26, 2008 | Reply

  2. I just finished another older (1902) renovation. It isn’t as spectacular as the others, but we did a pretty good job getting the floors back into shape and modernizing the kitchens and bathrooms.

    I will get my photos up tonight.

    I thought you might like this one…..

    I can’t wait to see the pictures of the house you just finished. I’ll say it again…I love old homes!

    Comment by morethananelectrician | August 26, 2008 | Reply

  3. what an amazing house ! there must have been an interesting story behind it.

    It is pretty cool, the story that is. The owners were in competition with another plantation down the road—which survived and is still here today, though not as pretty— and tried to out do their home. The family/families who lived there weren’t so lucky in fortune and ended up just walking away from it one day and let the bank take it over—-early 1900’s, I think. shame.

    Comment by Gigi | August 26, 2008 | Reply

  4. Absolutely beautiful! That’s such a shame that it burned down.

    By the time it did burn down, it had already been stripped (or looted) of everything that was of any value like the fireplace mantels,any and all building material, floors, doors, door knobs, and the marble not to mention the furniture. Some of the top parts of the outside columns—which each stood six feet in height and were hand carved out of cypress—turned up recently at a flea market in Texas.

    Comment by bluesuit12 | August 27, 2008 | Reply

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