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brass frill
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Old house

Architectural highlights...

The Guest House is a two-story Queen Anne Free Classic style structure with Craftsman influences built c. 1906. The most notable element of the exterior is the curved corner between the front (west) and south side elevations. Curved windows highlight this feature, which is echoed by the curving wraparound porch. Fluted Doric columns add Classical detail to the Queen Anne form, while flattened brackets that imitate projecting joist ends under the deep eaves lend a Craftsman touch.

The building retains a high degree of integrity in its original interior decorative elements such as windows and door casings, doors, and mantels. Even much of the original hardware remains.

By far the most elaborate decorative features are the mantels. The house retains all six of its mantels and each one is different. Two are distinctive Craftsman designs while three feature delicate Classical motifs. Five of the six have their original cast iron fireboxes along with covers and all feature original tile work.

The first floor mantels are predictably more elaborate than those of the second floor. The dining room mantel is the largest and includes boxed shelves in an overtly Craftsman design featuring pegged through tenons. The room north of the dining room has a mantel of similar inspiration, but includes a cabinet with glass doors. The parlor mantel stands in contrast to its Craftsman counterparts, with much lighter and more feminine floral carvings.

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Ownership history

The history of the Guest House is reflective of that of Gulfport itself- of its early prosperity, real estate speculation, and turns of fortunes. Two of the earliest names to appear in the deeds are Spencer S. Bullis and Joseph T. Jones. These two men were officials of the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad and, in a sense, founding fathers of Gulfport. Both men were heavily involved in the development of Gulfport and their ownership of lots 19 and 20 where the house stands was likely part of their wider real estate activities.

H. S. and Mattie M. Walker acquired the property in 1906. This was the same year that the fortunes of Gulfport were dimmed by the destruction of Gulf Coast timberlands by a storm. The first appearance of the house on a Sanborn Fire Insurance map is in 1912. The 1904 and 1907 Gulfport editions did not extend to that part of the town. In 1914, the Gulfport Daily Herald published a notice that the Walkers had defaulted on their loan from the First National Bank of Gulfport and the property would be offered at public sale to the highest bidder. In 1919, transfer of the property from H. S. Walker to E. H. and A. C. Selby was recorded.

It is clear that the Selbys did make the house their personal residence and that they were living there as early as 1917. Social groups having gatherings at the Selbys' included the Christian Endeavor Society of the Presbyterian Church (1917) and the Mississippi Auxiliary of the First Methodist Church (1928).
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