Smiths ressurects Dooley House

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 1999

An old color snapshot of the Dooley House illustrates Mary Katherine Smith’s words perfectly, &uot;My husband Danny doesn’t renovate houses, he resurrects them.&uot;

Such was the case of the old Dooley house, circa 1843.

Perhaps better known to Natchez residents at the old Mulvihill house, the Smith’s bought it from friends Tony and Loveta Byrne 12 years ago.

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&uot;It was actually Eye Sore of the Month in The Democrat,&uot; Smith said, laughing. &uot;I used to drive by it and say, ‘I wonder what’s going to happen to that.’&uot;

Fortunately, Danny Smith is a professional contractor and restorer of homes or the Dooley house would have been lost to history and to Natchez.

&uot;They were just about to tear it down when Danny said, ‘Wait, I think I can save it,’&uot; Smith said.

The house had been moved from its original location on Duncan Avenue to 111 Winchester Road where it now sits.

Smith said she is constantly amazed at her husband’s dilligence in his restorations.

&uot;He takes things nobody else wants,&uot; she said. &uot;He has a vision. He can see in his mind’s eye what something will look like restored.&uot;

A true preservationist, Smith said her husband will try his best to find a scrap or piece from an old house and put it back into the house.

&uot;There’s not many antebellum homes in Natchez that he hasn’t worked on,&uot; she said.

And Danny Smith keeps working on his own home, too.

&uot;If you look around, you’ll see traces of projects Danny has started,&uot; said Smith.

While Danny Smith restores houses, Mary Katherine Smith works in the blood bank at Natchez Regional Medical Center.

The Smith’s have three daughters, Julia, 20, Anna, 18, and Dottie, 16.

Julia is a sophomore at Co-Lin and looking forward to becoming an elementary school teacher. Anna is a freshman at Mississippi State University and is pursuing a career in pediatric oncology nursing.

Dottie is a junior at Trinity Episcopal School and considering her career options.

Anna’s choice in professions is especially fitting since she spent all of 1994 at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis undergoing aggressive treatment for bone cancer that had settled in one leg. Anna’s last follow-up visit to St. Jude as a patient will come this January, Smith said.