Location Information
(for the "Springfield")
Name:"Springfield"
Address:Springfield Road
half mile south of SR553
City/County:Church Hill vic., Jefferson County
Architectural Information
Construction Date:c.1806
Architectural Styles(s):Federal
No. of Stories:2
Registration Information
NR Listing Date:23 Nov 1971
View National Register Nomination Form
Context/Comments
A very early brick colonnaded I-house. It has a five-bay fa├žade with six Tuscan columns and a full upper gallery tied into the colonnade. Included in Historic Architecture in Mississippi (pp. 14-15). Tradition has it that Andrew Jackson married Rachel Robards at the site or in the vicinity in 1791. Listed on the National Register on 23 November 1971. [HABS: MS-54 (1934)]

The following was compiled by Mimi Miller, Historic Natchez Foundation, c.1986:

"Springfield is one of the most significant buildings in Mississippi dating to the territorial period, due to its early date of construction, high degree of architectural finish, outstanding integrity, and association with the prominent Green family. Stylistically, Springfield dates from 1800 to 1810 and architecturally relates to Texada, The Elms, and Gloucester as one of the earliest brick houses in the Natchez area. Springfield, like Gloucester which was constructed about 1803 and enlarged in 1807, features unusual detached sidelights.

"The house was probably begun in 1806, when the following advertisement appeared in the newspaper: WANTED IMMEDIATELY, THREE OR FOUR JOURNEYMEN CARPENTERS, to whom liberal wages, cash, will be given for about one year. Any person wishing to engage, will make application to the Subscriber at Mr. Thomas M. Green's, near Greenville. John Hall (MISSISSIPPI MESSENGER, April 8, 1806).

"The impetus for Thomas M. Green's building such a grand house could relate to the 1805 death of his father, Colonel Thomas Green, whose probate notices appeared in the newspaper shortly before the advertisement noted above. Colonel Thomas Green came to the Natchez area at the end of the Revolution and was the patriarch of one of the most influential families in the Natchez District. A thorn in the side of the Spanish, Green was also opposed to the policies of Winthrop Sargent's territorial government and was influential in securing his removal from office. According to J.F.H. Claiborne, the Green family's 'connections and alliances, at one period, largely controlled the Territory (MISSISSIPPI AS A PROVINCE, TERRITORY, AND STATE, p. 96).

"John Hall, the subscriber of the advertisement and probably the principal builder of Springfield, is documented as a builder in his probate papers, which include an inventory listing a tool chest, guages, mallets, oil stone, planes, and saws (Adams County Probate Box 17). No other buildings associated with Hall have yet been identified, but the bill for burial expenses in his probate papers indicates that he lived in the Natchez area until his death in 1822. In 1801, John Hall is recorded as a resident of George Town [sic], Kentucky, when he sold nine slaves to Thomas Green (Adams County Deed Book B:187). However, the record of the slave sale indicates that he had at least traveled to Natchez by 1801.

"Striking similarities exist between at least one Kentucky house and both Springfield and Gloucester [1803]. Federal Hill, also known as "My Old Kentucky Home," in Bardstown, is an early Federal style, brick house reputed to have been built prior to 1800. Federal Hill exhibits the same doorway design as Gloucester and the doorway is flanked by the same deatached sidelights with moveable sash that are an unusual feature of both Gloucester and Springfield. Georgetown, where John Hall was residing in 1801, is just north of Lexington, and Bardstown where Federal Hill was built is southwest of Lexington. John Hall may not have built all three houses--Springfield, Gloucester, and Federal Hill--but the Kentucky and Mississippi architectural link is evident.

"Springfield has been the center of controversy for much of the 20th century. Goodspeed's BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF MISSISSIPPI, published in 1891, records that Colonel Thomas Green performed the 1791 marriage ceremony of Andrew Jackson and Rachel Robards, who was living with the Green family at the time of the marriage (Vol. I, p. 333). Also in 1891, a history written by Robert Lowry and William H. McCardle went a step further by specifically stating that the marriage occurred in the existing Springfield house that was built by Col. Thomas Green's son (A HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI. [Jackson: R.H. Henry & Co, 1891], pp. 140-141). Later generations of writers have elaborated on the marriage with some staging it in the front parlor of the house. Tourist-oriented billboards identifying the present Springfield as the marriage site were mounted along the highways.

"The evidence against the present Springfield house being the site of the marriage, however, is overwhelming. In an 1856 newspaper article, Texada Tavern is described as being the first brick house built in the town of Natchez (NATCHEZ DAILY COURIER, March 7, 1856). Texada was built after 1798, when the property was acquired, and it was described as a new house in 1806 (MISSISSIPPI HERALD AND NATCHEZ GAZETTE, January 22, 1806). Other early brick houses include Gloucester, described as 'modern' in an 1806 advertisement (MISSISSIPPI MESSENGER, November 25, 1806) and The Elms, described as 'nearly new' in 1810 (NATCHEZ CHRONICLE, April 10, 1810). The construction of a brick mansion in an area as remote from Natchez as Springfield with a construction date of about a decade before the first brick building in Natchez seems highly unlikely. Making the bricks was certainly not an insurmountable problem for Spanish-era builders, but the difficulty of obtaining lime for mortar was frequently remarked upon in early journals and letters.

"Architectural historians who have studied the building generally agree that the house stylistically dates to the first decade of the 19th century. That the full-width, double-tiered gallery is an original feature rather than a later addition strengthens an early 19th-century construction date rather than an 18th-century date--18th-century galleries were almost always additions. The recent discovery of the 1806 newspaper advertisement for three or four journeymen carpenters to work for one year and to report to builder John Hall at Mr. Thomas M. Green's near Greenville further substantiates the stylistic date. Only the construction of a very monumental building like Springfield would have required the services of at least four full-time carpenters for a full year.

"Not one of the state's major 19th-century historians--John Monette, Benjamin L.C. Wailes, or J.F.H. Claiborne--ever made a reference to the marriage of Andrew Jackson occurring in the present Springfield House, and Wailes made a particular point of visiting historic sites and commenting on them in his multi-volume diary. A former slave of the Green family is recorded as having stated that the marriage did not occur in the present Springfield house, as it had not yet been built (Springfield, Jefferson County, Historic Resources Inventory, Miss. Dept. of Archives and History, Jackson, MS).

"Architecturally, Springfield is an outstanding house with bricks laid in Flemish bond with a rare grape vine mortar joint. The broken slope of the roof is original and typical of territorial period architecture, when the gallery was still interpreted more as an attachment. (Later, a gallery would be portrayed as more of an integral part of the house by being undercut beneath the unbroken slope of the gable roof.) The window-like sidelights, not incorporated into the doorway enframement, are found also in Adams County at Gloucester, Richmond, and Monmouth, and in Wilkinson County at the Salisbury House. The two-story, stuccoed brick columns are probably 1820s or 1830s replacements for either a double-tier of chamfered posts or slender turned columns.

"The interior is remarkably unaltered and features elaborate gouge-carved mantel pieces and cornices. Not long after the house was built, its size was increased by the enclosure of the rear gallery, and the original interior staircase was removed and replaced by one located in the rear gallery area. The original ram's horn hinges on some of the doors and the wrought-iron shutter dogs on the front wall may be unique for the Natchez region.

"Springfield does not have the academic pretensions of its near contemporary Gloucester, but it constitutes one of the highest achievements of the vernacular Federal style in Mississippi. No historic outbuildings have survived, but the integrity of plantation setting is outstanding."