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Exploring Abandoned Ruins at Mt. Holly Plantation House Built 1855

Exploring Abandoned Ruins at Mt. Holly Plantation House Built 1855

[Video] Walk with fine art photographer Keith Dotson as he explores the ruined remains of a grand southern home built 1855

In this video, we are exploring and taking photographs of the ruins of an abandoned old Southern plantation house in the Mississippi Delta.

Old plantation, antebellum. Owned by Mrs. Lee. Mount Holly Plantation, Foote. Mississippi Delta, Mississippi.
Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, 1939
Old plantation, antebellum. Owned by Mrs. Lee. Mount Holly Plantation, Foote. Mississippi Delta, Mississippi.
Photo by Marion Post Wolcott, 1939

I sometimes feel that Marion Post Wolcott has photographed every place I’ve explored in Mississippi decades before I was born. She shot the big house at Mt. Holly in 1929, shown above with horses and outbuildings. This one is in the public domain, and is stored at the Library of Congress.

There’s a lot of good information in the application to the National Register of Historic Places:

  • The house had 30 rooms
  • The ceiling was plaster but had an overlay of stamped metal (a rusty piece of that can be seen in the video)
  • The house was built by slave labor in 1855 for a Dr. Charles Wilkins Dudley and his new wife, a widow named Margaret Johnson. The land came from Margaret’s family, and when she died in 1863, she asked that the property be sold and the proceeds divided equally among her children. 
  • In the 1880s the house was bought by William Hezekiah Foote. His descendant was the author and Civil War historian Shelby Foote, who became famous when he appeared in the Ken Burns documentary about the Civil War.
  • In 1949, Shelby Foote wrote a novel based on Mt Holly and his great grandfather — the book was called Tournament. It’s still available on Amazon here.

Most of the pre-civil war era plantation houses I’ve seen — and that’s quite a few — were built in the Greek Revival style, with big porches, white columns, and symmetrical floor plans. But this one was unusual — it was built in the Italianate style — and was not symmetrical at all.

The house passed down until it was purchased and left vacant in 2010. It deteriorated for several years and in 2015 it burned, leaving the ruins we see now.

The MDA&H website has a lot of photographs of the outside and inside of the house before it burned.

The ruins of the overgrown house were difficult to shoot!
The ruins of the overgrown house were difficult to shoot!

My book about abandoned places

If you’re fascinated by abandoned places, you may enjoy my book Unloved and Forgotten: Fine Art Photographs of Abandoned Places

It was the result of ten years of road trips and exploration. It’s available on Amazon or on my website here.

My book is available in print or as a digital edition.
My book about abandoned places is available in print or as a digital edition.

Thanks for reading.

Be sure to visit me on FacebookInstagram or Pinterest, or on my website at keithdotson.com.

~ Keith

Sources and Links

Tournament novel about Mt. Holly by Shelby Foote (1949)

MDA&H website

Preservation in Mississippi, “Abandoned Mississippi: Mt. Holly, Lake Washington”

My main photography website

My Instagram

Note: This blog post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I may earn a small commission on qualifying purchases.

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