Thursday, January 26, 2017

Duncan Park

I know that many are very curious as to what in the world is going on next to the Duncan House on the corner of Linden and Polk.  You have shown great restraint in hiding your questions about the weird developments taking place there that include a railroad junction being buried in concrete. 

Well, it's finally time to talk about what plans we have in store there.

It's to be "Duncan Park" (unless you have a more exotic name) and it's going to be for us residents ......and our enjoy as we learn more about our history, especially the history around the time when our city was as important as any place in the southern part of the U.S.  As one military General said, "Richmond and Corinth are now the great strategic points of the war.....".  

The plan is to have historic markers (6 more, in addition to the large one already present) situated around the concrete pad where one can read about the different subjects.  Of course, a couple are about the Duncan House and the Duncan family members, others give information about things that occurred around town during that traumatic time early in the life of Corinth. 

Just this week, Duncan Construction created parking spots, including one handicapped spot; relocated and poured sidewalks, and created a very nice walkway leading from the parking area to the concrete pad.

Any day now, 6 'wayside exhibits'.....historic markers......will arrive, and, as we can, we will install the 6 around the pad.  When finished, if desired, a visitor (or resident) can learn a tremendous amount about the city's history during that fateful time. 

I hope to bring you information on Duncan Park on a continuous basis for a few days/weeks to try to keep you informed about what and why.  Some of the topics I would like to cover:

1.  Why a history park?
2.  Where did the big green sign come from?
3.  What is the story on the railroad junction
4-10  A review of each of the 6 history panels

Hope you enjoy the little spot of history. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

New Sign Under Wraps...

I'm pleased we were able to place a Mississippi Department of Archives and History marker at the Duncan House today. MDOT erects these signs for Archives and History and a wonderful crew from Tupelo was here this morning for that job. me, that sign brings real authenticity to the restoration project and I'm just delighted it's in place.

Yep, for now it's covered up....and awaits it's unveiling. We are going to do that at 1:30pm on Saturday, November 5th....the day of the Grand Illumination and all the other fun things occurring that day.....AND YOU ARE INVITED!

We will have a short ceremony to unveil the marker at 1:30, likely lasting no more than 20 minutes. It will feature our friends from the National Park Service and MDAH, as well as several local officials. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Four Views: The Duncan House Through the Years

Thought you might like to see the progression/restoration/transformation of the Duncan House over the last 160 years. 

The first visual record of the Duncan House was in a sketch drawn by a man named Miller, who came to Corinth from Memphis and sketched every home and business in town in 1860, including the Duncan House. (what a wonderful story....and fantastic asset....this sketch book is to our community!)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sparse Plantings...

We are getting very close to finishing the Duncan House project! It began in July of 2014,'s time, for sure.

Thought you might be interested in a few things in this photo. First, you can see we have begun the job of putting in 'sparse plantings'....they didn't have a lot of plants and bushes around their houses in 1858! 

Note the plants are placed away from the house, and immediately next to the house is the 'drip pad', made of gravel. This catches the rainwater as it comes off the house and lets it disperse without beating down the plants. The drip pad is composed of specific gravel of the "proper" size and color. Next to the drip pad goes the bed where the occasional bush is planted.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A Piece of the Past Preserved...

We made serious progress today! Started early by mounting and installing the ten foot 'working' shutters on the front windows. They actually open and close. They were made to specs by Thad Pratt, Vicksburg Woodworks, who also made the windows and provided all of the milled lumber. 

Got the front sidewalk poured and it looks so much better than the other one now buried under that red fill sand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A "Robin's Egg Blue" Porch Ceiling

It's an old Southern tradition to paint the ceiling of one's porch blue. In our case....."Robin's Egg Blue." Some say it's "because grandmother did it," others say it's a calming, cooling color which makes you feel better. What I've heard is bugs (wasps, mosquitoes, flies, dirt-dabbers) think the blue is the sky....and that they aren't protected from predators they don't chose to hang around that 'sky' looking ceiling. And then there are those that believe the blue protects the house from 'haints' and makes the house 'safer'. Have you heard of the color "haint blue"?

So, as you can see, the ceiling of the new portico is blue! It seems to blend well with the 'Gull Wing Gray" and the "Timid White". Don't you love paint color names?

Look closely when you pass next. Hopefully there won't be any bugs or haints to spoil your view!!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Former Residents Return to The Duncan House

As you can see, we made some progress this week.  The colors you see are basically 'true', so it's gray with white trim.  The colors were analyzed by a paint specialist from Williamsburg.  One of the samples had NINETEEN coats of paint...and another had 17.  That's from 158 years.  The base color of the house is Gull Wing Gray and the trim is "Timid White."

But we have bigger news!  We have former residents returning to The Duncan House, and no, it's not General Rosecrans nor General Beauregard's Tom and Nita Parson, former residents of The Duncan House.  Months ago we had a meeting of the minds and all agreed that they would return and be residents again, as soon as it was possible.

Friday, July 1, 2016


I'm excited to report the official State of Mississippi, Department of Archives and History historical marker for the Duncan House has been ordered. The few sentences being cast in aluminum for the marker have been researched, studied, and hammered out by both the National Park Service and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. These words tell a remarkable story of Corinth as well as the Duncan House and how all this history fits together.  The inscription will read:


Built in 1857 by William L. Duncan, the 
Duncan House was the headquarters of
Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard
after the battle of Shiloh. In June 1862, 
Union general William Rosecrans made the 
house his headquarters during the battle 
of Corinth. It was later occupied by
Maj. Noel Howard of the 2nd Iowa Infantry
and used as a telegraph office. After the 
war, Pvt. Thomas Duncan, a Confederate 
soldier with the "Tishomingo Rangers,"
returned to his boyhood home and
began writing his "Recollections" here. 

Just a bit of explanation which you likely know already. When the war began, Corinth was in Confederate hands. General Beauregard was headquartered at the Fishpond House (Johnny Spencer's home on Kilpatrick Street). After General Albert Sidney Johnson was killed in the Battle of Shiloh, Beauregard became commander of the Confederates. When he retreated back to Corinth from Shiloh, Beauregard took the Duncan House as his headquarters. Interestingly, the Federals took nearly two months to come the 20 miles from Shiloh to Corinth, digging in every night. In one of the greatest 'ruses' of the war, when the Federals finally marched into town in late May, 1862, they were greeted by an empty village. Beauregard had evacuated his entire command. General William Rosecrans, the commander of the Federals, moved into Beauregard's recently vacated headquarters, the Duncan House. After Beauregard's withdrawal, the Federals controlled Corinth until the War's end.   

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Portico is built!

We have come a long way in this process. As you can see, the portico is built, complete with trim work and wonderful columns. The massive steps are in place. They stretch from pillar to pillar on the front. They are made from thick and heavy wood that has been milled.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Clapboards vs match-boards, and why?

More progress on the Duncan House. The front is taking shape now. The portico is virtually built and is very nice.

I've been particularly interested in the boards used under the portico, especially as compared to the other boards on either side of the portico.  It's easy to see the 'clapboards' that cover most of the house.  They are tear-drop boards....larger at the bottom than at the top, allowing rainwater to run off. 

But we are not using clapboards under the portico. The boards we are instructed to use are tongue and groove boards, AND they are of different widths....some are 4" and some are 6", and they are put up in rather a haphazard manner, without a pattern.  I asked Chelius H. Carter about this whole 'style' and here is what he told me (which, actually, is a rather short explanation for him! :-)

"NOW…Why did we use 'match-boards' between the pilasters and in the front gable and regular clapboard everywhere else?
"It is a 19th century (and earlier) carpentry interpretation of Greek temple construction…this being a house in the 'Greek Revival' form or style. Often the front facades of ancient temples utilized smooth, finished blocks of stone termed “ashlar” to formalize the front entry; the sides would have a rougher cut stone. The clapboard is a carpentry representation of the latter material, while the 'match-board,' which are really simple floorboards laid up vertically, represent the finished or 'ashlar' stonework, formalizing the home’s entry. The gable or in proper temple elements’ terminology, the 'tympanum.' accomplishes the same aesthetic function.

"NOW…Why did we use different sized material in this 'match-board' business? In the mid-19th century and before that for centuries, as long as there have been wooden floors and wood siding, it has ALWAYS been “random width”…the planks came out of the sawmill at varied widths depending on what part of the log the planks came from - those people were interested in getting as much material out of the log as possible and that their clapboards and floorboards varied in width was of no concern…I have images of an 18th century clapboard house in Chestertown, Maryland, that has exterior planks ranging from 4 inches in face dimension to 20 inches. If you were to look at the original flooring of the William Duncan House (under two later floors)…you would find 'random width' flooring, varying from 4 inches face dimension to 7 or 8 inches. As for the face of the portico and its tympanum, it was specified that the boards be a mix of 4 inch and 6 inch, installed at random to give the same effect. So…there it is."

My friends, now you KNOW!!!

Ok, don't get too excited about that beautiful wood.  It's got to be painted!  Yes, that's correct!  The only thing that will be stained will be the doors themselves.  The side lights and transom will be painted.  I've begged, but to no avail.  So, we are trying to do it correctly.

More progress was made today (including a primer on that pretty raw wood) and the steps are being put in place.  The steps are huge, as you can imagine, and stretch from brick pier to brick pier.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

So...What Color Was The Duncan House in 1858?

One of the most interesting phases of this long restoration project is occurring right now. We are in the process of determining what the original paint color(s) of the Duncan House were. I'm sure there are several ways of doing this, but we went the scientific route and sent samples to a PhD in Williamsburg, a professional paint analyst. We sent samples of the house body, the trim and the fascia. You will be surprised, like me, to know that the fascia had NINETEEN coats of paint on it and the trim had 17!!!
Above in the photo is a side cut of the trim sample, multiplied 40 X (some photos were 100 X). You can see many of the 17 coats of paint in the photo.
Some of the results are most interesting, even surprising.
The body of the house was a light grey! (surprising)
The trim was an off white (not surprising)
The fascia was a grey-brown! (surprising)
The results returned from the analyst include the exact paint match for the three. I think you will find that the combination, when the painting is completed, will be very striking!
I had just assumed that it....all....houses of the 1850-60s were white. Not so, say the experts, and The Duncan House fits into that thinking.
Remember, the interior of the house is not being restored nor will it be open for viewing. It will be a private residence. But the exterior, hopefully, will look much like it did 160 years ago.
Thanks for your interest in this project.

Visible Progress being made on The Duncan House

FINALLY visible progress is being made! Now, hopefully you can see how it looked 160 years ago....and why it had the residents it had! You can see part of the tall window on the south side. Much remaining, but "coming along"!

Work beginning on Portico

We are beginning on the portico! About half the decking has been put down. The boards are all milled, tongue and grove, a little more than 1.5 inches thick. Hopefully we can make steady progress tomorrow.

From Historic Preservation Consultant, Chelius Carter

This was posted on my timeline by Chelius Carter, my Historic Preservation Consultant, May 23, 2016. 
Chelius H. Carter added 4 new photos.
One of the things I've been up to: the historic William Duncan House in Corinth, Mississippi
The Duncan House, built in 1858 is one of four known surviving antebellum residences within the National Historic Landmark "Corinth Siege and Battlefield Sites" was CSA Gen. Beauregard's headquarters, following the Battle of Shiloh; then USA Gen. Rosecrans' headquarters during the Corinth Siege & Battle there.
My client, Kenneth Williams generously stepped into the breach when this structure was threatened with demolition and elected to personally fund an historic rehabilitation of the house and site (it had moved perpendicularly from its original location in about 1920), and restore the front facade as closely as we could determine to its period of historic significance in 1862.
This involved re-siting the house on the lot AWAY from its fast-encroaching neighbor and more in the center of the lot, as it was on its original site and raising the whole back up on prominent 4'-0 piers. All needing approval through both Mississippi Department of Archives & History and the National Park Service. This has been a complex project...and Kenneth has been a long-suffering and patient client.
What the pictures below show is the existing conditions, when I was first brought in as Historic Preservation Consultant; my restoration design of the front elevation; then its re-siting (thankfully losing that early 20th century porch) and just door, transom & side-lights. This is going to be a wonderful addition to Corinth's historic context and the city anxiously awaits (as does my client) the completion of this fine project!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Front Windows and Door Unit installed!

I'm excited to report progress on The Duncan House! Windows are being installed and the door unit is in! We are very pleased at what we are seeing! All was made at Vicksburg Woodworks and is beautiful work.
The design is as close as possible to the original front windows and door. The massive windows are as Mr. Miller sketched them out in his sketchbook in 1860. He said "front window, 21 lights, 7X3", and that's what we have, 21 lights (panes).

Monday, April 4, 2016

DUNCAN HOUSE REPORT - Skirt Board Going Up!

The continuing saga of the restoration of The Duncan House, 810 Polk Street, Corinth, MS

We are soon to be installing the "skirt board"....sometimes called the apron board.... onto the Duncan House.  Likely you know a lot more about this than me, as it was all new to me.  The skirt board is the big, wide board at the very bottom of the house that helps deflect the rain water away from the bottom part of the house.  I think most frame houses have skirt boards.  See the board circled in red below.

The Shed Is Looking Better

Restoring The Duncan House, Headquarters for Generals, 810 Polk, Corinth, MS

Progress continues, but slowly, on the restoration of the Duncan House. Here you see that the 'shed' of the building has been patched, repaired and the 'primer' coat of paint applied. Likely it will be the same color as the house, but that has not yet been fully determined (although technical forensic research is continuing).

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Electricity is back on!

Restoring The Duncan House, Headquarters for Generals, 810 Polk, Corinth, MS

Can you see the twinkles inside the windows? Those are lights burning....and lights burning means ELECTRICITY!!! Thanks to the fine folks from ACE Power and the Wilbanks team, we now have power in the Duncan House! It's been...what....6 months since we last had power? Restoration is a slow process!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Fence To Enhance The Focus Onto The House

Restoring The Duncan House, Headquarters for Generals, 810 Polk, Corinth, MS

The new fence at the Duncan House is coming along nicely. It will stretch across the south end of the property, then turn and run north across the rear of the lot. The purpose is not to protect against our fine neighbors, but rather to give the house its own allow the focus to be upon the house, rather than the 'busy' background.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Although ugly and muddy, we are making progress at The Duncan House.  Seen here is the preparation for the underground utilities that will, hopefully, hide electrical wires...which, of course, were not around in 1858.

First, a reminder:  The house will NOT be open for visitors.  It's going to be the residence for some special people (more on that later), and it's going to be their home, and not a museum open to the public.  Fact is, the interior, while being clean, tight and comfortable for living, has long ago lost most all it's 'original' features, so restoration of the interior....if even possible, was certainly not practical for a private individual.  We are, however, restoring a nice and accurate EXTERIOR of the house for visitors to see, but not restoring the interior to it's former shape.

Monday, January 11, 2016

NE MS Daily Journal On The Duncan House, 1996

CORINTH – The old Duncan House, now a National Historic Landmark, served as headquarters for generals during the Battle of Shiloh and the Siege of Corinth and Battle of Corinth.

This article was written and published in The NE Mississippi Daily Journal in 1996.  It's an interesting and informative article, written by Jane Clark Summers.  Some data gathered in the 20 years since this was written might vary slightly from the article.  Regardless, it's an excellent article and well-written.  


TODAY, yes, on late Sunday afternoon, we got the master craftsmen together to coordinate the building of and later installation... of the big windows and front door unit.  Danny Shook, James Ford and Thad Pratt, Vicksburg....Thad is building the windows and door unit per specs from Chelius Carter.  Thad was in town today and we took the opportunity to make sure we were all singing from the same page of the hymnal!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

We Got Chimney!

Michael Hoge and his craftsmen have basically finished restoring the interior chimney at the Duncan House. As you can see, "interior chimney" means that the chimney is inside the wall of the house and isn't visible from the exterior.   

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Twisted Chimney

Restoring The Historic Duncan House, (Circa 1858) Headquarters for Generals, 810 Polk, Corinth, MS.
You may recall that our 'commitment' on the Duncan House is to restore the outside as close as possible (and feasible) to how it looked in 1862. Our intent is to have the interior quite 'livable' but not historically's undergone way too many re-modelings in the last 160 years for that!

However, the house did had an interior fireplace (added well after 1862) that basically disintegrated as the move began. We are replacing that entire fireplace.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

CORINTH 1862 Siege, Battle, Occupation

In my quest to learn more about The Duncan House, it's been necessary to learn more about the history of our own city. We all know that Shiloh was fought over the railroads here in Corinth....but Corinth, alone, played a huge part in the events of the day. And here is THE book on the subject. As you can see, it's called "CORINTH 1862 Siege, Battle, Occupation". I tell you, if you are interested in our town, you NEED to read this book. It's most entertaining and enlightening and I enjoyed reading every word. We just have no comprehension of what role our City played in that era so long ago. 
Gen. Halleck, head of all the Federal forces said this:

"Richmond and Corinth are now the great strategical points of war, and our success at these points should be insured at all hazards."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Hawk Has Landed

When we moved the house, we titled it; "The Eagle Has Landed". So, now that the infamous 'shed' has been finally been moved through the mud onto it's permanent pad, we can title it; "The Hawk Has Landed".

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Exposing the Skeleton of the Duncan House

We had an interesting time viewing the 'skeleton' of the Duncan House this week.  We were searching for  clues of what the original front windows and front door(s) looked like.  It's amazing what a trained professional like Chelius Carter can reconstruct from looking 'inside' the outer skin. Original boards and timbers, nail holes, cross beams, ghost prints of all kinds can paint a vivid picture of what the house originally looked like.

Duncan House outbuilding sustains a direct hit!

A bit of bad news with the Duncan House 'shed' that we are moving. It caught a direct hit from a 6" oak limb that fell as a result of the high winds and rain we had last night. The limb penetrated the roof as well as the loft of the old building.
The shed is sitting waiting to be moved to it's new concrete pad close to the Duncan House. Brian Reese, 4th generation member of Elder House Movers that is responsible for the project, promises that he will have it moved soon, hopefully next week!
It remains to be seen if Brian will charge more to move it with the new unwanted passenger.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

So, who was this W. L. Duncan that built the Duncan House?

Earliest known drawing of Mr. Duncan's home
Well, thanks to much work by my friend, Richie Burnette [now from Oxford, formerly of Corinth-with his family going back seven generations on the same block as the Duncan House], here is the biography of its first owner, Mr. W. L. Duncan.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

You can count the steps!

Several folks have inquired why the re-positioned Duncan House is sitting so high up off the ground. The answer is in 1862 it originally was sitting up that high. When it was moved to the other side of the block in the early 20th century, it was placed very close to the ground. We are attempting to restore its original appearance. This old photograph should help explain the height issue. It was made in 1914 on the steps in front of the Duncan House, before the house was moved. If you count the steps, you can get a rough idea of the house's 19th Century height.

In 1914, the house was owned by W. Thomas and Lillian Young. and the two adorable girls are Estelle and Marjorie, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Young.  Estelle was about five years old and Marjorie was about three when the photo was taken. Descendants of the Young family owned the house for well over 100 years.

Estelle grew up and married Buddy Vaughan, and 'Telle and Buddy had three daughters; Lillian Vaughan Yoakum, Rosemary Vaughan Tweedle Aldridge, and Janet Vaughan Krohn. The three girls grew up in the Duncan House.

Thankfully, Janet is interested in history and has the brainpower to keep it all straight. She has been and will continue to be a great resource for information about their old family home. And, yes, we thank her for sharing this cute photo of her mom and aunt.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Thomas D. Duncan's book for less than a buck

I previously mentioned Thomas D. Duncan’s brilliant book about his experiences in the Civil War, which the old soldier wrote while living in the Duncan House.

I just bought the Kindle version of this book for $.99 on Amazon. It went to my iPad (I have the free Kindle app) and I'm pleased to say it reads just perfectly on the iPad. I just searched for "Thomas D. Duncan, Recollections" on Amazon and several things popped up.

Monday, October 19, 2015

And they put WHAT in the mortar?

Below is a piece of 'mortar' I picked up from inside the wall of the Duncan House while the interior of the wall was exposed. I think it would be called mortar or stucco, or maybe 'chinking'.
If you look closely at the photo of this old 1858 mortar you can see many strands of hair protruding out.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

If they’d left this decision up to me I wouldn’t be doing this, but…

The newly prepared form for the outbuilding foundation now awaits its load of concrete. This pad is located on the north side of the Duncan House. The outbuilding will align north and south, with the doors located on the north end.

You ask, "But why go to the trouble of saving an old shed like that?" Well, I asked the same question, and the answer is, even though this building (probably a very early car garage) was not associated

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thomas Duncan Quote Highlights New Mississippi Monument on Shiloh Battlefield

Unveiled this past Saturday, Shiloh’s magnificent new Mississippi monument features a quote by battle veteran Thomas D. Duncan, who lived right here in Corinth at his family home, the historic Duncan House.

Friday, October 9, 2015

New Mississippi Monument at Shiloh Battlefield has Corinth Connection

You have read and heard much about the new Mississippi Monument unveiled at Shiloh Battlefield, 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 10th, 2015. What you likely don't know is we in Corinth have a very close connection with the monument. Its design incorporates two quotes chiseled into the granite base. One of these quotes is from a soldier named Thomas D. Duncan.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

QR Code added to Duncan House Signage

Something new has been added to the construction sign in front of the historic Duncan House – the QR code for the URL of this rehabilitation blog. [A QR code (abbreviated from “Quick Response Code”) is a machine-readable optical label containing information about the item to which it is attached.]

When tourists scan this particular matrix barcode with their smartphones, a QR reader takes them to the website. This High Tech feature thus provides visitors on-site, accurate, in-depth, and up-to-date information on our restoration project. What a handy addition for the interpretation of one of only four surviving Civil War structures in Corinth!

Thanks to John Orman for making the QR Code stickers for us!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Indeed we do! The Duncan House is now OFF the steel beams and resting on the piers and foundation that should hold it for another 160 years! So, the height off the ground you see as you drive by is the height it will remain. I think bringing the historic old home back up to its original height greatly improves its looks.

Soon, we will finish the block/brick work and will move on to yet another phase of restoration. It's an adventure, for sure!

Hopefully, we will soon be preparing a pad for the 'outbuilding' to rest on. I have hopes of placing it on its permanent site within the next couple of weeks.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Pier One

It was a big day on Polk Street as we finished the first 'pier' under the Duncan House, complete with antique brick and the proper color/mix of mortar. There are probably 16-18 visible piers and should all look similar. In between the piers will be period latticework covering a dark background. I think it's going to look great! We hope to finish bricking the piers tomorrow.

By the way, you may have seen some of these bricks as you rode by the old Corinth Machinery Company. Aren't they beautiful? I understand Corinth Machinery Company was built around 1869, so they are close to matching the pre-war period…

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Let the New Phase of this project begin!

Many months of planning, praying, moving dirt, waiting on permissions, waiting on the rain to stop, cussin', moving the house, etc., etc., is now behind us, and we think a new phase is beginning.

As you can see, the blocks, special mortar mix(es) and sand are all in place. Antique brick arrive tomorrow morning early and the piers should be built exactly according to plan. We hope to give Mr. Elder's steel (upon which the house continues to rest) back to him soon - we have had it tied up WAY too long.

Perhaps next time you drive past you can see some piers rising from the ground. Keep your fingers crossed. Lots of work to do, but let the fun....continue!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sign of the Times

Currently standing on the Duncan House lot, this “project sign” shows a historical architect’s drawing of the house.

After all practical modifications are completed, our goal is to match the building’s exterior as closely as possible to the 1862 appearance as depicted here. The front windows will be very large. The rehabilitated house certainly won’t look exactly like the architectural drawing, but many of the features will be restored. For sure, the house will be high off the ground, as it was in the past. The steps leading to the portico will be interesting, as we will have several feet to rise from the sidewalk. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

1880s View

This picture of the Duncan House shows the home in the early 1880s, and is taken from its earliest known photo. This image first appeared in "The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine" and later in "Battles and Leaders," along with photos of other Civil War homes in Corinth at that time. Unfortunately, the giant bushes seen here are hiding the home’s iconic front windows.

Now that the moving phase is complete, we can begin the difficult task of recreating the Duncan House’s original appearance.

Monday, August 31, 2015


The historic Duncan House is now sitting above its new foundation, awaiting the piers to be installed. It's sitting HIGH and proud, just as the Historical Restoration plan calls for!

This picture also show the "old bird" who got me into this deal more than a year ago: Woody Harrell, the now retired former superintendent of Shiloh National Military Park. This year marks a quarter century of Woody’s involvement in preserving and promoting Corinth’s rich Civil War heritage. His encouragement resulted in me being caught up in this slow moving, but always interesting project!

Friday, August 21, 2015

How Firm a Foundation?

The footings were dug today per the required specs, and that new foundation should hold up a bank vault. [An apt analogy, as that's what I'll need to rob when we go to filling those massive trenches with concrete!]

It's FUN to move a historic property while complying with all the pertinent preservation rules and guidelines! The Duncan House is one of 16 contributing properties for the "Siege and Battle of Corinth National Historic Landmark." An NHL is the highest level of significance by which the government designates historic sites.

Friday, August 14, 2015

342 inches = 28.5 feet = 8.6868 meters

Yeah....but why move the old house 28.5 feet?

Well, a picture is said to be worth a thousand words. So, here is a picture from earlier this year:

Although the Duncan House was here first (moved from the southeast corner of the same block), when it was placed on this lot within a foot of the property line, no zoning laws were in effect. So, when our neighbor built his studio over his small garage, things tightened up quite a bit space-wise.

In order to be able to showcase the Duncan House as close as possible to its Civil War appearance, the old home needed to be moved to the center of the lot and away from its neighbor. That move will enable us to restore the house’s exterior to its 1862 look. (This restoration includes raising the home higher off the ground.) It took a 28.5 foot move to get the Duncan House close to the center of the lot. So, that's the preservation plan we presented to the National Park Service, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the city. Now you know why 28.5 feet.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Duncan House on TV!

The restoration of the Duncan House made the news today on Tupelo’s WTVA. Here is a link to a short clip entitled Historical Corinth Home to be Restored.

CORINTH, Miss. (WTVA) -- It's one of the oldest houses in Corinth and now, it's about to be saved. Four houses that were built prior to the Civil War remain in Corinth. The Duncan House is among them.

Kenneth Williams says the house was built by William Duncan in 1858. It originally stood just around the corner from its present location. During the Civil War, it was occupied by a Confederate and a Union general - at separate times, of course. The five-room frame house is being moved 26 feet from its present location.

"It probably won't be worth one bit more once it's relocated and fixed up than it was previously, but it's something the community needs and we're excited about doing it,” says Williams.

Williams says the exterior of the home will be restored to its original design.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Duncan House took a short journey today!

The Duncan House took a short journey today! It's being moved 28.5 feet to distance the historic structure from its twentieth century neighbor, and to help restore the old home to its original Civil War era appearance.

NA and I bought the threatened property a year ago to preserve it. The meticulous process of research, restoration planning, and governmental approval, not to mention weather delays, have caused a year to pass before the actual moving work could begin.

Our plan is to restore the building’s exterior to its authentic 1862 look. The Duncan House is one of only four pre-Civil War structures remaining in Corinth. The antebellum home is a key contributing feature to Corinth’s Civil War National Historic Landmark, and to insure we maintained that designation, the National Park Service had to approve each step along the way. The Duncan House will remain on its temporary wheels for a week or two, then will be set in its new permanent location, less than nine yards from its location for the past century! We are excited, and hope it will be another interesting historic attraction here in Corinth, for our citizens as well as out of town guests.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Thumbnail History of the Duncan House

Below is a photo of the interpretive sign placed in the yard of the Duncan House in the early 1990s by the joint city-county Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission. Based on the best historic research available at the time, the text for this exhibit panel was reviewed and approved at both the state and federal levels.

Since (contrary to what many of my younger running buddies assume) I was not around in 1862, I will rely on this brief description as a “thumbnail sketch” of the home’s history during the Civil War:

"Built shortly before the Battle of Corinth by W. L. Duncan, this five-room frame house originally stood on Jackson Street, around the corner from here. Several remodelings give the house a newer look than is shown in the 19th century sketch above, but the structure's original form can still be recognized. The house is presently being restored.

Confederate General Pierre G. T. Beauregard headquartered here in 1862 until he moved to the Fish Pond House after the Battle of Shiloh. Union General William Rosecrans is thought to have occupied the dwelling for a time before taking command of the Army of the Cumberland."

Friday, July 3, 2015

1860 M.A. Miller Sketch

Below is the earliest known visual recording of Corinth’s historic Duncan House. This sketch was done in 1860 by M.A. Miller, an engineer working in Memphis. For unknown reasons, Miller sketched more than 100 buildings in Corinth, including the Duncan House. His drawings are contained in a sketch book, which was given to the Corinth Public Library around 1990, by a Miller relative living in Virginia. I don't pretend to be an expert on the Miller sketches, but I can assure you Corinth is mighty blessed to have this unique visual record of our City from the first decade of its existence!

This small sketch of the Duncan House is amazing. Note the written description of the front windows: "21 lights, 7 X 3." That means there were 21 panes of glass total, seven panes high and three panes wide - a huge window! We hope to be able to replicate those windows. Also note the house originally had a portico on the front, rather than a long porch. We hope to replace the portico soon.