The first part of the following guide provides a sight-seer with an entertaining and educational day in our town. Our own local younger generation could also use this guide to learn about their roots. Perhaps you have just heard some the names below and never put them together with places and historical events. This would be a good time to do so. Use information on the Contacts & Links page to request a map of the town and any other help required (you might be able to use the city map shown at the very bottom of this page). Throughout the guide you will find an assortment of photographs of the homes mentioned.
The second part of the guide lists even more historic homes and buildings in and around Mt. Vernon, together with more photographs (note that most photos here were taken by Caleb Hicks during his internship with the Tulane School of Architecture in the summer of 2011). Finally, the information on this web page concludes with a description of the city's historic districts and their development.
The sign in front of each home names the original owners, lists the name of the current owner(s), and gives the year of construction.
Driving Tour of Historic Homes & Sites
Above: The Knieff-Smith House, 1906, 704 Holbrook St., Owned by Pressley Properties
1. Start at the Knieff-Smith House on the west side of South Holbrook Street. This small house is on the Mt. Vernon to Pittsburg Road. The Holbrook Homestead stood across the street and the street today is named after that prominent early family. The Holbrooks and Rutherfords intermarried and were related before immigrating to Mt. Vernon in the 1840s from Tennessee. The Knieff-Smith house has passed through many owners, including your webmaster's grandparents Virgil and Agnes Hughes at one point in the 1920s; ultimately Robert and Linda Smith gave the house for our headquarters in 1991, where it remained until our move to the Parchman House in 1996
2. Across the street from the Knieff-Smith House is the Stringer House. This house was built in 1884 by W.C. Holbrook. It was originally a gingerbread Victorian cottage; it was remodeled about 1905; and again in the 1950's. The house has been home to 4 generations of the Stringer family in Mt. Vernon and now belongs to Inona Stringer of Mason, Texas.
Above: J. C. Stringer House, 1884/1905, 705 Holbrook St., Owned by James & Erin Griffin
3. Immediately south of the Stringer House is Fanning Springs. These springs are written up as being a major stopping point for travelers as early as 1840. The original town of Mt. Vernon grew up around this spring; hidden under the weeds is a native iron ore rock lining put in in the 1920's. In 1848 Stephen and Rebecca Keith gave the 24 acres where the present townsite is now situated. Slowly the churches and schools moved up to the new townsite. The spring flows into what is now known as "Town Branch". The original New Liberty Baptist Church (predecessor to First Baptist of Mt. Vernon) was built across the branch; the original families lived along this flowing creek; and the first school - The Mt. Vernon Male and Female Academies - was built on the creek.
4. Just south of Fanning Springs is the old Mt. Vernon Waterworks Plant. The first facility was built in 1911. Dr. Will Godwin, entomologist and university instructor, and Steve Moore, current Michener Fellow with the University of Texas, are restoring the facility.
Above: The Old Water Works, 1911, 803 S. Holbrook, Owned by William Godwin & Steve Moore
5. Turn right onto Rutherford Street. The original Rutherford Farm and large home was just south of this street near the intersection with Kaufman Street. The street name probably derives from the original ownership of this family's farm; you would travel along "Rutherford's Lane" and this became Rutherford Street.
6. Turn north on Kaufman Street. On the right is the L.D. Lowry "pink house" - a two story brick. And just past the former Lowry Home is the Majors-Parchman House, historical association headquarters since the fall of 1996.
Above: Majors-Parchman House, 1883, 701 S. Kaufman St., Owned by the Franklin County Historical Association
This house is unique in Mt. Vernon in that it is an 1883 Queen Anne Victoria farmhouse in the middle of the town - which grew up around the farmhouse. Restoration of the house and remaining outbuildings was completed in the summer of 1996 by B.F. Hicks.
The house was the farmhouse for the Majors farm which was bounded on the east by the Holbrook Farm (now Holbrook St.); on the south by the Rutherford farm; on the north by the Methodist Church property; and on the east by the Mt. Vernon and Winnsboro Road (now Kaufman Street).
The Selvidge family built the house in 1883. The house was subsequently sold to the Majors family and later to the Parchman family. Mr. Joe Parchman and his wife, Letitia, held this property from 1905 until 1960. Lots were sold off allowing subsequent development up and down Holbrook and Kaufman Streets but they retained 3/4ths of an acre with the original farm outbuildings. Still standing is the original barn (with a stall for a milk cow to provide fresh milk in a day before refrigeration and a horse stall to allow travel; the smoke house - essential for preserving meats; and the chicken house.
7. Continue north on Kaufman and pass the Joyce House - across from the Majors - Parchman House; another "city house" but situated so that the owners could maintain a milk cow and horse in a day before modern conveniences allowed town life as we now know it. The home took in about l5 acres but road frontage was sold off along Kaufman Street; the original barn stands behind the house and the property still includes about 5 acres in pasture behind the houses along Kaufman Street.
Above: The Joyce House, 1900, 622 S. Kaufman St., Owned by James L. Hamrick III
A part of the barn was originally used as a jail for Franklin County before the present jail was built; inspection reveals unusual construction of heavy boards nailed two and three deep to hold criminals. When the present jail was built; the old wooden jail was moved to this property and incorporated into the barn.
8. You pass the home of Jeff and Hazel Meredith, Don Meredith's childhood home, on the left, just past the Joyce House.
Above: Don Meredith's Boyhood Home, 1934, 616 S. Kaufman St., Owned by Jim and Betsy Taggart
9. Just to the north of the Meredith House, you will see the Goswick-Majors Home, built in 1911.
Above: The Goswick-Majors House, 1911, 606 S. Kaufman St., Owned by The David Casas Family
10. Continuing north on Kaufman you come to the old Methodist Church building now occupied as a home by B.F. Hicks. The church is the third Methodist church on the site. The original building faced north-south and was built in 1875; it was a large frame building and men and women set on opposite sides of the sanctuary. The second building with an elaborate bell tower was built in 1896 - aligned east-west; and the present building was erected in 1930. This building has the original pews from the 1896 building. In 1985 Mt. Vernon Methodists moved to their present structure on Highway 37 south near the interstate and sold this building to Mr. Hicks.
Above: The Old Methodist Church Building, 1930 (Church Established 1855, State Historic Marker Located on Site), 501 S. Kaufman St., Owned by B.F. Hicks
Behind the building were grounds fenced after the Civil War and used for the county fairgrounds and race track, starting in 1868 - firearms had to be checked at the entry. The Methodists purchased that additional property in 1875, apparently putting an end to the earlier use.
11. As you continue north you pass a vacant lot (now parking lot for the First Baptist Church. This was the site of the Franklin Institute; a two story frame building which was the second public school erected in Mt. Vernon; it stood until about 1915. Behind the lot, facing Holbrook Street, is the old Mt. Vernon High School, built in 1941, vacated in 1967, and now used as a warehouse.
Above: The 1941 High School Building
Across from the Franklin Institute Lot - now occupied by brick homes - was the site of the High School, built in 1928 (later used as a grade school), and also vacated when the schools moved to the new location on Highway 37 in 1967. The building burned shortly after it was vacated.
12. Continuing north is the 1895 Petty-Solomon Victorian Home, purchased in 1980 and restored by Don and Fran Yates; and it was known for a time as the Seven Gables Bed & Breakfast Inn (operated by Donnie and Deborah Thomas, who purchased it in 1998). Now owned by the Geney Family, the house was built in 1895 by A.J. Petty, Sr. The property was sold by Petty to H.G. Haynes, who sold it to S.A. Petty in 1918. H.E. Solomon purchased the house in 1927.
Above: The Petty-Solomon House, 1895, 318 S. Kaufman St., Owned by The Geney Family
13. As you near the Railroad Tracks, turn left. Railroad right-of-way was purchased in 1881 and lines were laid and service began in 1887. The present depot was built in 1894. Until only 30 years ago, facing north toward the tracks and town, you would have seen a very different site with a complete block of brick buildings taking in a city block where the bank parking lot and fountain now is.
Above: Mt. Vernon Railroad Depot, 1894, 200 S. Kaufman, Owned by The Franklin County Historical Association
Commercial Buildings occupied the area where the Post Office now stands and the public wagon yard occupied the area where the water tower now stands. The depot stood on the west side of Kaufman Street facing the railroad tracks. After passenger and freight service was discontinued, the 1894 depot was given to the Historical Association with the requirement that it be moved off railroad right-of-way and the restored facility now faces Kaufman, about 150 feet north of the tracks.
14. As you turn back south on Leftwich Street, you pass the Clinton-Draper House, known early in its history as the Clinton Hotel, on the right. Actually more of a "boarding house" for the railroad conductors and officials, it was built about 1887 and was used as a hotel through the 1920s.
Clinton-Draper House, 1887, 102 Leftwich St., Owned by Wayne & Judy Banks
15. Next you see the Gill Home - now owned by Libby Milton and beautifully restored; probably the only house in town with the original well and well house still operating and connected to the main house.
Above: The Holley-Gill House, 1910, 106 Leftwich, Owned by Libby Milton
16. On a corner to the right, you will see the Haynes-Moore House.
Above: Haynes-Moore House, 1908, 302 Leftwich St., Owned by Mike & Mandy Alexander
17. Turn right and continue west past the Davidson-Stringer Home. Lloyd Whitten Davidson was the son of Beulah Parchman Davidson of Mt. Vernon; he married Frances Crutcher, daughter of Mt. Vernon doctor, W.C. Crutcher, in 1911, and built the house soon thereafter. The Davidsons moved to Sulphur Springs about 1915. Sam Henderson, station agent for the Cotton Belt Railway, married Lucy Lee Crutcher - sister to Frances - in 1917. Lloyd Davidson was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1950 and served on that court for 30 years; he and his wife are buried in the State Cemetery in Austin. The Davidsons sold the house to Pleas Stringer and members of that family still own the home.
Above: The Davidson-Stringer House, 1906, 208 Turner St., Owned by Mark & Amy Huddleston
18. The vacant lot with a concrete slab on it was the site of the 2nd Baptist church building; it was a large ornate Victorian structure with a bell tower.
19. Back to the south you see the Fleming Home; built in 1903 by prominent physician Dr. James Fleming. Dr. Fleming lived to the age of 99. He was a world traveler; and a very noted and respected physician.
Above: The Fleming House, 1903, 304 Miller St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Wayne McAllister
In terms of noteworthy citizens: we should note at this point that a Rutherford (Mt. Vernon native) was a member of the team of physicians who discovered sonar; Jack Dodson of Franklin County went on to become president of Columbia University; and Dr. Byron Bennett of Mt. Vernon was Dr. Jonas Salk's assistant in the discovery of the polio vaccine.
20. As you turn right (north) onto Miller, you are at the 1893 home of Romulus Talbott. Talbott built his first home in 1883; when his family grew larger, the home was rolled on logs a few feet north, and this more imposing structure was built. Talbott is one of several Talbott brothers who come here before the Civil War. He died about 1923; descendants still live in this county.
Above: The Talbott-Banister House, 1893, 212 Miller St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Pennington
21. Talbott sold off a tiny lot with the 1883 house; now owned by Cherry Leslie Onley; and retained 5 acres so he could keep the necessary horse and cow required for life in a town at the turn of the century.
Above: The Talbott-Banks House, 1883, 210 Miller St., Marilyn J. Kohls
22. Just down the street is the McDonough Sears Roebuck mail order home; shipped by rail in a "do it yourself kit"; this home was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Tom McDonough for almost 75 years of their married lives; they both lived into their 90's and the home is now being restored by Mr. and Mrs. Sam Valenti.
Above: The Nance-McDonough House (The Sears-Roebuck House), 1912, 204 Miller St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Valenti
23. Turn left along the railroad and cross the tracks; turn up Oak Street; at the corner of Oak and Bolin is one of numerous Tittle Houses. The Dutton-Teague House belonged to Mr. Charles Tittle at one point; Oak Street was a private lane lined with large oaks which served as entry to this large home. Mr. Tittle sold off or gave lots to his many children; the small home at the corner of Bolin Street was built by his daughter, Unita Tittle Banks.
Above: The Dutton-Teague House, 1882, 110 Oak St., Owned by Marilyn J. Kohls
The Dutton-Teague House is built in 1882 and was a true Victorian with a third floor widow's walk; but in 1920, the house was thoroughly modernized - so today you see the classic 1920 home but the interior details are very Victorian. As with most other older homes in the town, lots were sold off the original property along Main Street and the side streets but the house retains a large acreage in the center of the block.
There are at least two great ghost stories. Maurice Wilkinson, Mt. Vernon's Boy Mayor, was stricken with pneumonia in 1927 when he lived in the house with his bride of six months, Eula Bryson Carter, and died shortly thereafter. Sheriff Dutton's daughter died in the front parlor from the colic while being rocked by her grandmother; and then the grandmother died about 1890 and was found the next morning - she was seen in that same spot, rocking the child, throughout the 1930's.
24. A huge Classic Revival home stood in the middle of the horse pasture at the western end of Oak Street; the Charles Dupree home was demolished to make way for the football field about 1920; today a vacant lot.
25. As you turn back toward Main Street, you come between two homes which are almost sister houses; built by best friends in 1903. West Main Street was Mt. Vernon's Silk Stocking row from about 1900 until 1930 and most of the fine homes remain. Many homes are marked. The Tittle-Wilkinson house on the corner of Oak and West Main was for many years the home of one of the town's most prominent lawyers, Judge R.T. Wilkinson and his wife, Lela Nelson, and later his daughter, Mrs. Agnes Burns, who taught piano in Mt. Vernon for over 75 years. The other twin was restored by Greg and Stephanie Carr; it belonged for may years to the J.B. Heywood Family; Mr. Heywood was station agent at the depot. The house later belonged to the Hague family.
Above: The Tittle-Wilkinson House, 1904, 713 W. Main St., Owned by The Adams Family
26. Across the street on West Main and a little to the west is the Rutherford house, the first brick house built in Mt. Vernon.
Above: The J.L. Rutherford House, 1920, 804 W. Main St., Owned by Barry and Vivian Coe
27. Just across Main Street from the Rutherford House, you will see the Burns-Birdsong House, built in 1885 and remodeled in 1916.
Above: Burns-Birdsong House, 1885/1916, 807 W. Main St., Owned by Dory Cason
27. Look back west along Main Street; the original route of the highway does not turn but is the black top road which is the original Indian road, and later U.S. Highway No. l, going west from Mt. Vernon to Dallas. The Thruston House is at the bottom of the hill. At the top of the hill stood Shadyside, the Antebellum home of Confederate Captain, John Payne Hill, a Virginia lawyer and early immigrant to Franklin County.
Above: The Henry Clay Thruston House, 1868, 1/2 Mile West of Mt. Vernon on the Bankhead Highway (175 CR NW 1010), Owned by The Franklin County Historical Association
28. East toward the downtown Square, at the corner of English Street, you might observe that the street is named for a prominent pre-Civil War Settler, Campbell English. Some l50 years after the farm on this street was first purchased by English, his descendant, Dr. Jabez Galt established a pecan orchard on his ancestral property. The pecan orchard is being restored now by property-owners Steven Hammons and Reid Williams.
29. On the west side of the intersection is the Wilbur Jabez Galt home; and on the east side of the intersection is the site of the J.N. Teague home which burned in December 1998. Dr. Teague served as doctor for his own sick daughter; she died; he never practiced medicine again. Dr. Teague was the owner of the Dutton-Teague house; he sold it in 1907 and moved to the Victorian on Main Street which we lost to a fire in 1998.
Above: W.J. Galt House, 1910, 500 W. Main St., Owned by The Stansbury Family
Further east on Main Street, the Shur Quick now stands on the site of the 1895 Church of Christ building. It was torn down about 1948 and the present building built further out on West Main. Both sides of Main Street were lined with gasoline stations and car dealers. The abandoned service station just west of the First National Bank parking lot was the Ed Galt Livery Stable from 1890 to the 1920s.
31. Drive east through town and past the town square, site of the courthouse building which stood in the center of town from 1878 through 1912. The newly restored 1912 Franklin County Courthouse sits to the north of the Square and is worth a tour any time.
Above: Franklin County Courthouse (State Historic Marker), 1912
32. Continue east from the Square past the old Teague Chevrolet building. On the left is the Wright-Vaughn Home, built in 1870, the oldest home standing in the town of Mt. Vernon. Dr. William C. Wright was a Rutherford descendant; this property was actually occupied by two generations of his family before he built the present house in 1870. It remained in that family for over a century.
Above: The Wright-Vaughan House, 1870, 311 E. Main St., Owned by Dave Elliott
33. Across Main is the M.L. Edwards Sr. home built in 1908, restored by previous owners Richard & Ginny Hamrick.
Above: M. L. Edwards, Sr. House, 1908, 306 E. Main St.
34. Down the hill on East Main, look to the left to see the second-oldest brick home built in the town. Virgil and Agnes Hughes had purchased a home on the same lot in order to relocate to town from the Daphne Prairie, but that house burned to the ground. While they temporarily lived in the Knieff-Smith House (described above), they built this house and moved into it in 1927. Other members of the Hughes Family moved to town in the 1920s. Harmon Hughes, brother of Virgil lived in the Majors-Brakebill House (shown elsewhere below). The Bernie Bolin home on Tolbert Street, just around the corner from the Knieff-Smith House belonged to Ira and Mae Hughes Masters - Ira Masters was Superintendent of Mt. Vernon Schools in the 1920s.
Above: Virgil Hughes Home, 1927, 315 E. Main St., Owned by Johnny Hughes Hicks
35. Turn right onto Arrington Street; on the left is the Joe Arrington Home, built about 1914 by Arrington from the timbers of a much earlier Arrington house. Mr. Arrington was Franklin County Clerk for a good 40 years.
Above: The Joe Arrington House, 1914, 400 E. Main St., Owned by The McRae Family
36. Wind back to Holbrook; at the intersection with Holbrook is the Stanton-Moore house, perhaps better known by town residents as the Mal Moore House.
Above: The Stanton-Moore House, 1912, 305 Holbrook St., Owned by Pressley Properties
37. Now turn left, proceed south to the Knieff-Smith House (see number 1 above). If you take a side drive, you can turn on Majors Street, to the east, go one block, and you are in the Martin Addition. This was the first subdivision of the town, laid out about 1910; several older homes are still standing, including the Thomas-Holder House built on a diagonal to the street (this was the home of great-grandparents of Richard Hamrick, whose business now owns the restored home). And across the street is the Mitchell House, another good example of southern architecture, with its wide front porch.
Above: The Thomas-Holder House, 1890, 601 Holbrook St., Owned by Hamrick Land Services
Other Historic Homes Marked with FCHA Signs
Above: Burns-Clinton House, 1914, 803 W. Main St., Owned by Mel Treider
Above: Rutherford-Heywood-Hague House, 1904, 801 W. Main St., Owned by Greenberg Family
Above: Will Tittle House, 1913, 802 W. Main St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. David Norman
Above: R.R. Moss House, 1903, 701 W. Main St., Owned by Pressley Properties
Above: Tittle-Banks House, 1914, 100 Bolin St., Owned by Lynda Watson
Above: Tittle-Knox House, 1913, 604 W. Main St., Owned by Johnny & Linda Warren
Above: Dupree-Barker House, 1905, 600 W. Main St., Owned by The Henry Family
Above: Dupree-Harvey House, 1905, 515 W. Main St., Owned by The Leete Family
Above: Knox-Liles-Cannaday House, 1900, 205 English St., Owned by Billy Shoemake
Above: Newsome-Cannaday House, 1900, 103 Oak St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ken Trantham
Above: Stephenson House, 1896, 304 Holbrook St., Owned by Hamrick Land Services
Above: Rouse-Bridges House, 1906, 200 Cottonbelt, Owned by Pressley Properties
Above: Campbell-Hunnicutt House, 1913, 108 Live Oak St., Owned by Frankie Cooper
Above: Hart-Mitchell House, 1912, 113 Live Oak St., Owned by Faulkner Family
Above: Haydon-Thomas House, 1911, 203 Live Oak St., Owned by Billie Burns Hamrick
Above: Thomas-Holder House, 1890, 601 Holbrook St., Owned by Hamrick Land Services
Above: Majors-Brakebill House, 1912, 612 Holbrook St., Owned by Pressley Properties
Above: Harp-Scott House, 1904, 622 Holbrook St., Owned by Debo & Sandra Ogunseinde
Above: Gertrude Smith House, 1914, 202 Tolbert St., Owned by Franklin County Historical Association
Above: Templeton-Campbell House, 1900, 641 Leftwich St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Dan Cargile
Above: Beck-Mattinson House, 1900, 110 Parchman St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Michael Collins
Above: Pittman Rountree House, 1902, 303 Keith St., Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bill Bennett
Above: White-Brown House, 1910, 204 Leftwich St., Owned by Mrs. Kathy Shelton
Above: Parchman-Johnson House, 1911, 417 Yates St., Owned by Mr. & Mrs. Richard T. Wims
Above: Oliver-Tinsley House, 1900, 502 Yates St., Owned by Krista Tinsley
Above: Wilkins-Mitchell House, 1870, 625 Leftwich St., Owned by Danyell Shurtleff
Other Historic Buildings outside the Town
(1) Hopewell Church, 1892, On the North Side of FM 21, across from Hopewell Cemetery (8 Miles Southeast of Mount Vernon), Owned by Scott Harvey
(2) Johnson-Anderson House, 1865, 2456 CR NE 4250 (8 Miles South of Mt. Vernon), Owned by Julia LaBella
(3) Dr. H.E. Chandler House, 1911, 6034 FM 21 (9 Miles Southeast of Mount Vernon), Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Freeman
(4) S.M. Long Homestead, 1910, 1588 County Road SE 3285 (5 Miles South of Mt. Vernon), Owned by Mrs. M.P. Long
(5) J.M. Hicks Homestead, 1880, 1927 U.S. Hwy 67 West (2 Miles West of Mt. Vernon), Owned by B.F. Hicks
(6) Miller Family Homestead, ca. 1900, 1714 CR SE 4105, Owned by Jacqueline Miller
(7) Shown Above: Rogers-Drummond House, 1852 (State Historic Marker and National Register of Historic Places), 45 CR SE 4135, Owned by Marc Lake
(8) Shown Above: The Petty-Killingsworth House, 1854 (State Historic Marker), On the South Access Road 4 Miles East of Mt. Vernon, Owned by The Daniel Family
(9) The Gray-Brown House, ca. 1904, On the North Access Road of I-30, 3/4th Mile East from Spur 423, Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Pat B. Lindley
(10) Daniel Sparks Homestead, 1894, 11766 FM 115 (West Side of 115, Close to 1448), Owned by Harold & Kathy Patterson
(11) Roy & Dovie Parchman Homestead, 1900, 2201 U.S. Hwy 67 West , Owned by David R. Parchman
(12) Fred Mercer House, 1913, Owned by Robert Paul Langhoff
(13) Classic Prairie Style Home, ca. 1912, located 1.5 miles south of I-30 on County Road SE 4105. Owned by Jacqueline Bateman
Residential Districts Subject to Administration under Mt. Vernon's Historic Preservation Ordinance
The town of Mt. Vernon grew up as a settlement near the Fanning Springs (Holbrook Street south of the present town square). By 1848 the United States government established a post office; in 1849 a formal town site was laid out on land donated by Stephen and Rebecca Keith. Since there were two other Mount Vernons in Texas the post office was called Keith and then Lone Star before the name Mount Vernon became available in 1875. Franklin County was carved out of Titus County in 1875 and Mt. Vernon was named the county seat.
The county's economy has been based in mixed agriculture, commencing with cotton farms, followed with over 500,000 peach trees in production in the 1920's; watermelons in the 1930's; and the state's top record production of cane syrup in the 1940's. The 1936 discovery of oil in the north part of the county led to diversified economy with oil production continuing today combined with light industry, manufacturing, and diverse agricultural endeavors. Over 60 homes built before World War I are marked with attractive signs designating the original owners and year of construction. Tour maps are available. There are over 20 official state historical markers. The Cherokee Trace runs along the eastern edge of the county south toward Nacogdoches. The Choctaw Trail runs through the center of the county toward Dallas. The Bankhead Highway, first east-west transcontinental automobile route through the United States, completed in 1919, remains as Mt. Vernon's Main Street.
The town of Mt. Vernon was incorporated as a city in 1910. The earliest homes still standing in the town of Mt. Vernon date from the 1870’s; there are four ante-bellum homes in the county. Stephen and Rebecca Keith gave 24 acres of land "to the trustees of the town of Mt. Vernon" in April 1849, and the town was laid out in its present configuration with lots and blocks around the present town square. The post office did not recognize the name until 1875, and the post office was initially called "Keith" and then from 1850 until 1875 "Lone Star." The present courthouse was erected on the north side of the square in 1912.
The three historic residential districts are described as follows:
(1) The 1841 Village/Fanning Springs/New Liberty in the W.S. Keith Survey. This district includes the area in the W.S. Keith Survey on the east side of Holbrook Street; the property basically follows the “town branch” or Denton Creek from its headwaters at Fanning Springs to the north. A high ridge provided a secure site for houses, churches and the first school in the village; the original development in this “village” would have been haphazard and the first settlers were squatting in an area near where a major Indian massacre occurred. The commercial buildings at this location were burned during the Civil War which precipitated the movement to the present town square. The Black Community here has churches on sites occupied since the Civil War and a cemetery started at the same time. This early village includes both the African-American community on the south and the Anglo community to the north. Historic homes and other buildings of this district include the following:
• Mt. Zion CME Church (1898), Church and Holbrook
• Rosenwald School (1931), 407 E. Grady
• Mt. Vernon Waterworks Plant (1911), Left Side of Holbrook at Rutherford
• J.C. Stringer House (1884), 705 Holbrook
• Knieff-Smith House (1906), 704 Holbrook
• Harp-Scott House (1904), 622 Holbrook
• Oscar and Vera Mitchell House, 618 Holbrook
• Majors-Brakebill House (1912), 612 Holbrook
• Thomas Holder House (1890), 601 Holbrook
• Old Mt. Vernon High School (1941), Holbrook, South of Railroad
• Rouse-Bridges House (1906), 200 Cottonbelt
• The Martin Addition (1910), Cottonbelt and Live Oak
• Campbell-Hunnicutt House (1913), 108 Live Oak
• Hart-Mitchell House (1912), 310 Majors
• Hayden-Thomas House (1911), Live Oak and Majors
• Stephenson House (1896), 304 Holbrook
• Stanton-Moore House (1912), Holbrook at Carthel
• Joe Arrington House (1914), 400 E. Main
• Virgil and Agnes Kirk Hughes House (1927), 315 E. Main
• Wright-Vaughan House (1870), 311 E. Main
• M.L. Edwards, Sr., House (1908), 306 E. Main
(2) The 1849 Early Mount Vernon Community. The gift by Stephen and Rebecca Keith of 24 acres for formation of a town led to the movement from the original village to a formal town site. The formal commercial center was laid out at the northeast corner of the 24 acres. Land to the south and east was sold off for residential development and this area of about 20 acres has many early homes. Historic homes and churches of this district include the following:
• Old Methodist Church (1930), 504 S. Kaufman
• Jeff and Hazel Meredith House, 616 S. Kaufman
• Gertrude Smith House (1915), 105 Tolbert
• Majors-Parchman House (1883), 701 N. Kaufman (at Tolbert)
• Templeton-Campbell House (1900), 641 Leftwich
• Wilkins-Mitchell House (1870), 625 Leftwich
• Central Christian Church Building (1907), 402 Leftwich
• Haynes-Moore House (1908), 302 Leftwich
• Davidson-Stringer House (1906), Turner St.
• Talbott-Bannister House (1893), 212 Miller
• Talbott-Banks House (1883), 210 Miller
• Nance-McDonough House (1912), 204 Miller
• Newsome-Cannaday House (1900), 103 Oak St.
• Tittle-Banks House (1914), 100 Bolin
• Dutton-Teague House (1882), 110 Oak
• Oliver-Tinsley House (1900), 502 Yates
• Parchman-Johnson House (1911), 417 Yates
• Fleming House (1903), 304 Miller
• Pittman-Rountree House (1902), 303 Keith
• Robert & Eva Rountree House (1887), 301 Keith
• White-Brown House (1910), 204 Leftwich
• Holley-Gill House (1906), 106 Leftwich
• Clinton-Draper House (1887), 102 Leftwich
• Petty-Solomon House (1895), 318 S. Kaufman
• Ivey Hicks Smith House (1923), 110 Yates
• Goswick-Long-Majors House (1911), 606 S. Kaufman
• Joyce House (1900), 622 S. Kaufman
• Beck-Mattinson House (1880), Parchman St. (owned by Michael & Tandra Collins)
(3) The 1885 Silk Stock Row area. After the railroad arrived, the area along Main Street west of town and then north of Main Street developed with “new” houses and became the premier residential area in the town. Historic homes of this district include the following:
• Will Tittle House (1913), 800 W. Main
• C.F. Huckeba House (1913), 700 W. Main
• Tittle-Knox House (1913), 604 W. Main
• Dupree-Barker House (1905), 600 W. Main
• Wilbur Jabez Galt House (1910), 500 W. Main
• Knox-Liles-Cannaday House (1900), 205 English
• Cowan-Tillman House (1910), 200 Lake Street (owned by estate of Cleo Tinsley)
• Dupree-Harvey House (1905), 515 W. Main
• Moss House (1903), 701 W. Main
• Tittle-Wilkinson House (1904), 713 W. Main
• Rutherford-Heywood-Hague House (1904), 801 W. Main
• Burns-Clinton House (1914), 803 W. Main
• Burns-Birdsong House (1885), 807 W. Main
The predominant building type throughout all three historic residential districts is the single-family residence, with wood frame bungalows being the most common configuration. Variations on the Four Square form are scattered throughout the District. Growth in the Districts generally reflected proximity to downtown and the transportation routes with the earlier homes being the closes to the downtown.
The dominant impression in the three historic residential districts is of block upon block of houses, set back from the street in constant rows. Garages were commonly constructed at the backs of lots, accessed by a narrow drive passing between houses from the street. Although alleyways were platted, few are open or in use. Shade trees occur in places throughout the Districts, but there is no regular pattern of landscaping. In the 1841 Village District, all construction was configured to follow the boundary of the W.S. Keith Survey (present Holbrook Street) so that all construction is laid back from this defined boundary. In the 1849 Village District, the roads follow meandering lanes which served various functions, with Leftwich Street running directly into the center of the 1894 Depot and Hunnicutt Street and Fleming Streets arising out of lanes left for milk cattle maintained in small barns behind early homes to wander to pasture and water.
The earliest homes in The 1841 Village and in the 1849 Village have Greek Revival and Victorian influences dominant in residential architecture throughout the turn of the century.
Since all three districts develop before there was a real concept of a subdivision, the house styles are varied. There are consistent mixes where numerous grand Victorian Houses were demolished to allow for construction of modern Ranch Style brick homes; sometimes standing next to much newer construction (even Geodesic Domes in two historic districts). An earlier photographic legacy documents the houses which are now gone and their location against the historic houses which still remain.
In the 1849 Village, two homes on Kaufman Street still have barns and other outbuildings intact from the time when horses and cows were stabled behind the owner’s homes. A house on Leftwich has its original well evidencing the need for water wells before public water became available in the 1920’s. A house on Miller Street and several other homes in the historic districts include pastures of three to five acres where a horse could be maintained before the advent of the automobile negated the continued need for maintaining a horse and carriage for transportation. An aerial view of the town shows numerous green spaces and an unusual configuration of land use which predates modern town development patterns.
Old magnolia trees still stand to mark the location of several homes which were built to face the railroad soon after tracks were laid in 1887 in deference to this new mode of transportation.
There are true Victorians; Queen Anne Victorians; four square houses and ultimately bungalow cottages, all mixed together with construction that “filled in” spaces as people needed smaller lots as horses and cattle lots were removed; or as homes burned or were demolished and new homes built. The three districts all demonstrate a real evolution with no real consistency of construction. There are Arts & Crafts style bungalows with the exposed rafter tails or eave brackets that are this style’s main identifying elements.
A few churches stand in the various middle-class neighborhoods they served. The real loss is in the 1849 Village which was truly filled with fine gingerbread Victorian houses; in the 1950’s through the 1970’s all but two have been demolished.