The History of The Burrus House
Judge J. C. Burrus began construction of the Burrus House in 1858. The Judge and his wife, the former Margaret Louisa McGehee, had moved from Huntsville, AL to the Mississippi Delta in 1842, and settled in the frontier of newly-formed Bolivar County.
After a few years the Judge bought a large tract of land five miles from the Mississippi River, which would become known as Hollywood Plantation, because of the beautiful holly trees in abundance on the property. There they built a roomy log house to accommodate their growing family, and all their frequent guests. In 1858, the construction of " the big house of the big-hearted, Judge Burrus" began. The home was built on "one of the most ideal spots on earth" on Egypt Ridge. In early 1861 the family of nine moved into their Greek Revival style home.
Shorty thereafter the Civil War started. With both the Confederate and Union forces frequenting the vicinity, there was much activity at the house during this period. The house was thought to have been spared being burned by the Yankees, because of Judge Burrus' past friendship with a classmate at the University of Virginia. His friend was in command of the Union forces in the area, and gave orders to spare the Burrus home. The Burruses "fed and housed hundreds, nursed the sick, cared for the dying, and literally impoverished" themselves during the War. One notable visitor was Confederate Gen. Jubal Early, who hid at the home after Lee's surrender, before being secretly transported across the Mississippi River at night by Charles Burrus. There are also a few "George Washington stayed here" type guests said to have stayed at the home, among them being John Wilkes Booth, and the famous James brothers.
The home was occupied by the Burruses until around 1916, when J.C. Burrus Jr. moved out and took residence with his daughter, Maggie Burrus Barry. The house was then a host to different renters. Then in 1955 director Elia Kazan began filming the movie Baby Doll at the house. Afterwards the home suffered from vandalism and neglect. Then in 1974 the Burrus heirs gave the home to the Bolivar County Historical Society, who then "mothballed" the home, and raised funds to restore the house. They succeed in partially restoring the home and kept it "breathing" a little longer. Due to lack of funds the Society gave the house back to the Burrus heirs in 1987. The house then went through another period of vandalism and neglect.
It was in 2001 that a close call with a tornado caused the collapse of the front gable and columns. After that, one of the Burrus heirs, the late Dr. E. H. Winn Jr., of Greenville, had a tin roof put on the house to "mothball" it, saving it from further deterioration. Dr. Winn would say the house "was on his watch", and in 2005 he established the Burrus Foundation. He then donated to the Foundation which funded the entire restoration of the home. The project was managed by the Foundation's board and directed by his daughter Barry Foster. The home is now restored to its former splendor, with a few new amenities like electricity, plumbing, and central heat and air. The home is now under management of Hollywood Plantation, LLC, and is available to rent for special events. In June of 2012 the home was host to a beautiful wedding reception, which was the first of many to come.
The grand old home is preserved in remembrance of all who lived and worked on Hollywood Plantation.