The Lewis House (Oldfields) was constructed as the residence of Alfred E. Lewis, a Gulf Coast planter, merchant, politician and Civil War officer. The plantation was instrumental in the settlement of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The property sits on a lot as large as 22,000 acres and included the service buildings, docks, racetrack and cemetery. The house is Greek Revival style architecture and is an example of the Coastal expression of style having columned undercut galleries across both front and rear elevations. From the front gallery the view of the water and the Mississippi Sound is stunning and picturesque. The occupants of the house over the years have been as important as the architecture. Alfred E. Lewis himself served as a county tax collector, postmaster, and state representative as well as a successful businessman. Walter Anderson also once lived in the home.
Fun Facts: Walter Inglis Anderson (September 29, 1903 – November 30, 1965) was an American painter, writer, and naturalist. He died from Lung Cancer at the age of 62. In 1941.
“In 1941, Anderson moved to Gautier, Mississippi, to live on his wife’s father’s estate (Oldfields) with his family. An extraordinarily productive period followed. Freed from his work at the Pottery, he had time to draw, paint and make block prints; to illustrate some of his favorite books …He also built his own kiln and fired a new series of figurines, kept the house stocked with firewood, built a rental cottage, wrote short stories and aphorisms, went on marvelous adventures with his children, and celebrated the passing of the seasons and daily hours in a series of watercolors and lyrical “calendar drawings” that capture the life around him. He put on puppet shows, depicted farm life in a series of large watercolors, and, using surplus linoleum and wallpaper, made huge linoleum blocks depicting the natural world and that of fairy tales. Some of these were 30′ in length, the largest art prints ever produced by an American, predating those of Leonard Baskin and others, and when they were exhibited in 1949 at the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum’s curator of prints, Una E. Johnson, said that she had “never seen block prints so finely executed and of such great dimension.” The fairy-tale linocuts were an attempt, Anderson said, to produce a series of imaginative “explosions” more powerful than the threat of the atomic bomb: explosions “so identified with the life of man that they stimulate, without destroying, life.” wikipedia
1861– Alfred E Lewis was a signer of Mississippi’s Ordinance of Secession, financed the Live Oak Rifles regiment and colonel in the Confederate service.
1906– The House was acquired by the parents of Agnes (Sissie) and Patricia Grinstead. Both grew up at the house and later married renowned artist brothers, Walter and Peter Anderson, respectively.
1940’s– Walter and Sissie Anderson lived at Oldfields with Sissie’s family. During this time Walter did some of his most important artistic works. These works were characterized by joyful pen and ink drawings, mammoth block prints, and sketches of the classics, large watercolors and calendar drawings of daily life. He thrived there with his children and a happy lifestyle making him feel loved, useful and very productive.
1845: House constructed as a residence of Alfred E Lewis.
1906: House acquired by parents of Agnes (Sissie) and Patricia Grinstead who later married brothers Walter and Peter Anderson
1940’s: Sissie and Walter inhabit the house, and Walter completes some of his most influential art works.
1947: Hurricane of 1947 causes damages to the foundation. The building was moved some hundred feet from the water’s edge.
2005: Hurricane Katrina caused severe damages by winds and tidal surge including interior and exterior damage to floors, walls, and windows.
2008: A restoration grant is provided by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History but litigation over the property’s ownership prevents restoration.
1980: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
2011: Listed as Mississippi Heritage Trust 10 Most Endangered Historic Places.
Address: 1901 Oldfield Drive
Accessibility: The house is now privately owned and in need of repair; can be seen from vehicle; point of interest only.