The Manship House was most likely inspired by a design in the nineteenth century pattern book, A. J. Downing’s The Architecture of Country Houses, in which an almost identical house is pictured. When Charles Henry Manship built his interpretation of a Gothic Revival residence in 1857, he altered the floorplan to suit the south’s hot climate, and included elements reflecting his own taste. One of the interesting details of the Manship House is the decorative ironwork. Manship chose four completely different styles of ironwork to ornament the exterior of his Gothic Revival style home. The ironwork is original, and may have been something Manship admired when he traveled to New Orleans and Philadelphia. First, the palmette cartouche that hangs down in the center of each veranda is a Greek Revival element. The second is the use of Gothic Revival quatrefoils framed in the corners of the ironwork. The Rococo Revival style, a style popular for carved Victorian furniture, is expressed in the grape pattern forming the double arches on the front of the verandas. The fourth design is the Italianate style handrail. The ironwork is assembled within chamfered wooden frames rather than with iron structural supports bolted together, an unusual method of construction.
While work on the The Manship House continues, the grounds are showing the first signs of spring. Fragrant heirloom varieties of narcissus and jonquils are in bloom, along with several different kinds of camellias.
Work at the Manship House continues with the installation of an improved underground drainage system. The drainage system will further protect the new foundation from the effects of Yazoo clay by directing water away from the house. Next, the ground level was increased to match the new level of the house. In some areas, an additional thirteen inches of fill dirt was added to bring the soil grade up to the re-leveled house. Now that the soil grade has been corrected, the front steps can be reconstructed.
Reconstructions from the earlier restoration, all of the chimneys were completely demolished earlier in the project to facilitate re-leveling of the house. To reconstruct the chimneys, plywood sheathing was first attached to the new steel frames. Next, a moisture barrier and metal lath were applied to the plywood sheathing to prepare the surface for Portland cement plaster. Three coats of plaster were then applied, with the last coat providing a smooth finish. All six chimneys have now been reconstructed to their original dimensions.
When the Manship House was built in 1857, the front step and side porch buttresses were stuccoed and scored to imitate ashlar masonry. After the Portland stone color was applied, the incised lines were painted white to heighten the effect of masonry construction. The front step and side porch buttresses have now been reconstructed, and painted as they had been originally.
Despite delays caused by the recent rains, progress has continued to take place at the Manship House. The side porch, step risers, and step wings have been reconstructed and are being primed. The reconstructed chimneys have been primed and prepared for painting, and most of the interior plaster work has been completed. Installation of the new HVAC heating and cooling system is underway.
The original buttresses flanking the front steps would have been built of brick and stuccoed and scored in imitation of ashlar masonry. They have been rebuilt using concrete blocks so that it is easy to determine that they are part of the current restoration rather than original to the house. The buttresses, foundation piers, and chimneys will be painted a Portland stone color as recommended by A. J.Downing in the Architecture of Country Houses.
Now that construction of the three steel chimney tower frames has been completed, the visible brick portions can be reconstructed. The steel chimney tower frames, anchored to the steel frame underneath the house, will support the new brick chimney stacks. The steel chimney frames replace the old heavy interior brick towers that had contributed to the differential movement of the house and foundation. Each of the three chimney stacks will be reconstructed to the same dimensions as the original chimneys, but will not be functional.
The design of the Manship House was probably inspired by Design XXIV - A Cottage – Villa in the Rural Gothic Style, in Alexander Jackson Downing’s The Architecture of Country Houses, a popular pattern book published in 1850. In The Architecture of Country Houses, Downing describes the effect of the chimney design for Design XXIV:
…The high pointed gable of the central and highest part of this design has a bold and spirited effect, which would be out of keeping with the cottage-like modesty of the drooping, hipped roof, were it not for the equally bold manner in which the chimney-tops spring upwards. Altogether, then, we should say that the character expressed by the exterior of this design is that of a man or family of domestic tastes, but with strong aspirations after something higher than social pleasures….
The dining room was said to be Charles Henry Manship’s favorite room, and was originally painted by him in imitation of oak paneling. The plaster walls were wallpapered and painted with a golden base color. Thin glazes were applied to look like oak, and then varnished to give the walls luster and durability. Over the years, the dining room was host to many Manship family Christmas dinners. Menus for Christmas dinners were featured in popular magazines and often included a variety of meats and fowl. Then, as now, cranberry jelly was suggested as an accompaniment to various meats. The following recipe is from Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, December, 1879:
Ingredients. – One quart of cranberries,
One pound of loaf sugar.
Wash the cranberries in clear, cold water, and put them in a porcelain saucepan, with as much water as remains on them after washing. If lifted out of the water with a skimmer, sufficient remains on the berries. Stew very slowly until every berry has burst open; strain through a colander, squeezing out every particle of pulp from the skin. Put the pulp and juice back in the saucepan; add the sugar and boil half an hour, stirring very frequently. Wet a mould with iced water, and pour in the jelly. When cold, turn out. A very ornamental dish to serve with poultry.
Christmas trees in the nineteenth century were commonly placed on the table in the parlor, the most formal room in the house. This tradition followed the fashion set by Britain’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Children and adults made their own ornaments before commercial production made them commonly available. Small gifts were often hung on the trees. Cookies, dried and preserved fruits, and gilded nuts made fashionable as well as tasty decorations. Cornucopias, bon-bon boxes, tiny drums, and nest shaped baskets held Christmas sweets. Magazines offered inspiration and instructions for making a wide variety of Christmas tree decorations at home. Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, December, 1879, included the following instructions:
BOX FOR SWEETS FOR CHRISTMAS-TREE.
This little box, which is in the form of a witch’s pointed hat, may be easily made. The crown is cut from a piece of thin cardboard or stiff paper, folded in the shape of a sugar-paper, cut evenly at the bottom. It is covered with black satin, edged with a row of silver beads, and is ornamented with a circle of silver beads and one scarlet feather, which may easily be made by painting a small white feather with a little vermillion paint, if a scarlet feather or dye is not to be had readily. For the brim and inside, which is made to hold sweets, take the bottom of an ordinary pill-box, line it with a little tin-foil, and sew it to a circle of cardboard covered with black satin. A narrow ribbon can be fastened at one side to attach it to the Christmas-tree.