Community-beloved Latimer House freshly restored and available for social occasions
Special to The Clinton Courier
For generations, the Latimer House was the “go-to” place for intimate social gatherings in Clinton.
The stately two-story Victorian structure resting atop a hill on the northwest corner of the Mississippi College campus evoked romantic memories of a bygone era while playing host to engagement parties, bridal and baby showers, anniversary receptions, and even small weddings.
The beloved house on 401 West Madison Street had been a fixture of the town, but more than a quarter of a century had passed since its last major renovation, and the building was showing its age. Last fall, MC began a major renovation of the treasured historic landmark.
“It’s blended into the fabric of Clinton society,” said Laura Jackson, MC chief operating officer and chief financial officer, and a driving force behind the landmark’s restoration. “It needed a refresh. There have been all kinds of events here in the past, and people have reached out to me because they wanted to know when it would be reopened again.”
The answer: immediately.
While MC leaders are discussing plans to host an open house for the newly-renovated facility, the Latimer House is now available for rent by MC departments and members of the Clinton community.
Soon, the popular meeting place will again resound with the din of engaging conversation, boisterous laughter and the clinking of luncheon dishes.
Amy Rowan, executive assistant in the Office of General Counsel at MC, has handled reservations for the facility for years. She said longtime residents of Clinton may be pleasantly surprised by what they find upon returning to the popular venue.
“The Latimer House is known for its style and tradition,” Rowan said. “I don’t know what they’ll feel when they come in and see the interior, but I think it’s a wonderful change.”
The most noticeable change is the removal of the large, double-sided fireplace that divided the parlor from the dining room, creating one large area that can accommodate dozens of guests – with seating. An inviting front porch with brand-new flooring beckons visitors inside, and sturdy ramps offer easy wheelchair access to the interior.
A wooden deck behind the house extends interior space into a shaded exterior that offers a view of MC’s main campus and football stadium. Soon, the outdoor entertainment area will be adorned by a custom-made firepit crafted by sculptural artist and master welder Louis Riley, an MC alum.
A full-sized, modern kitchen, replete with a new refrigerator, dishwasher, ice maker and stove, is perfect for catered events. Chefs will appreciate expanded prep space illuminated with modern light fixtures.
Many of the house’s original features remain. Refinished pine floors lead visitors directly into the sunroom or the main corridor. Above, stained glass windows reflect the interior lighting and beckon guests to explore all rooms. Ornate crown molding details each wall, and antique furniture sprinkled throughout offers hints of the building’s original time period.
Jackson said the renovation was intended to harken back to the Latimer House’s origin while ushering the structure into a new century – its third.
“Following our first event after the renovation, I got feedback from various people about how good the house looked,” Jackson said. “It’s traditional, it’s convenient, it’s inexpensive to rent, and it’s beautiful.”
Katrina Pace, executive director of the Mississippi College Foundation, whose department now occupies the second floor of the building, said the renovations will allow the Foundation to invite MC alums back to campus as honored guests.
While staff members have access to the house throughout the week, front and back staircases provide an egress that curtails disruptions to events on the first floor.
“Everyone is happy we moved up here,” said Pace, whose father, Ralph Taylor, a longtime music professor at MC, once rented a room in the house. “It’s comfortable, and all the views are beautiful.
“You know you are in a significant and meaningful setting.”
Purchased by MC from the Latimer family in 1969, the Queen Anne-style home nestled across the street from the president’s residence boasts a rich history entwined with the University.
The wood-frame house was built in the mid-1890s for Rev. Warren Sheldon Webb, MC’s president from 1873 to 1891, and his wife, Margaret Sherman Webb, after their original home had burned in December 1894. Later, it served as the residence of Prof. Murray E. Latimer, who had married the Webbs’ daughter, Myrtle. Latimer taught Greek at MC and served as mayor of Clinton from 1906 to 1919.
When Mississippi College obtained the house a half-century later, the tree-lined edifice was preserved as a campus guest house. It soon became one of the most popular places to socialize in Clinton.
The restoration was extensive: the building had significantly settled through the years, and the crawl space underneath the structure was virtually nonexistent. The house had to be raised about eighteen inches to reinstall electrical wiring, ductwork and support beams.
For Jackson, Rowan and Pace, all long-time residents of Clinton, the renovation was well worth the effort.
“The setting outside is beautiful, the inside of the house is pretty, and the renovation feels significant, but it’s easy to use,” Pace said. “Once again, people can say, ‘I have an event at the Latimer House,’ and everybody will know what that means.”
The entire downstairs area is available for $225 per event. Glassware, plates, a silver punch bowl and other amenities may be rented for an additional cost. Because the Latimer House is located on the Mississippi College campus, no alcohol or tobacco products are allowed.
For more information or to book the Latimer House, call Rowan at 601-925-3257, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.