Couple restores old house

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Old houses are not scarce in Natchez, nor are ones that have been redone and refurbished.

Driving or walking past the area of Milburn Street, just off Canal Street, one house shines like a diamond in the rough with an obviously new, glossy white-painted trim.

Charles and Lillian Hollingsworth bought the home in the early 1990s. After having restored the William Harris house on Jefferson Street, the couple decided it had gotten too large for just the two of them.

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&uot;We sold our house and we needed somewhere to live,&uot; Charles said. Since he was restoring the home on Milburn, they moved in.

But, the couple did not buy the house at 8 Milburn Street with intentions of living in it. Initially, they bought it and the house next to it.

&uot;This old house next door is a fine antebellum house, but I don’t believe we’ll ever restore it,&uot; Charles said. The work is just too much, he said.

Although the Hollingsworths do not know exactly how old the house is, they have dated it to after 1851. The house is on a Union Army map from 1863, when the Union occupied Natchez. On the map, it is just a slender, rectangle just off of Canal Street.

&uot;This little house was just two rooms, the front two rooms here,&uot; Charles said of the living room and dining room area.

The area where the hall, bedroom and bathroom are now was added after 1863, Charles said.

And, later, the house was made into a duplex, making it a good bit of work to not only restore but remodel this home.

Moving the kitchen to the front, tearing out walls and building an extra bedroom/sitting room and a screened-in back porch are some of the improvements they made, besides sprucing up the homes’ haggard appearance.

But the Hollingsworths love old homes and would not want a new one. In fact, they only lived in their first home, a new one, in Natchez for about eight years.

&uot;We decided we didn’t like a new brick house anymore,&uot; Charles said.

In fact, besides these two older, neighboring homes, the Hollingsworths also own an old home in Lillian’s hometown, in central Rapides Parish &045; Glenmora.

It is a 1904 dogtrot house that was built by one of her distant cousins, who hauled the lumber in a wagon to build the house, Lillian said.

&uot;We just like old things,&uot; she said.

Not only did Charles get a nice home out of the purchase of the two properties, but he also found an artifact to treasure.

While tearing down a wall in the neighboring house, Charles said he saw something in the wall. When he pulled it out, it was a hammer from the early 1800s. It still had the original handle and a hole in the end for the leather strap. Charles said a blacksmith made it.

With a book of early American tools, he matched the hammer to ones dating back in the 19th century.

While the Hollingsworths have found treasures in the houses and the house itself is a treasure, they have added treasures of their own, little antique artifacts and knick-knacks of their own to continue personalizing their restored home.

While they may not live at 8 Milburn St. forever, it seems an older home is always in their future.

&uot;I think they just have character,&uot; Charles said. &uot;They just have things about them.&uot;