By Jodi Marze, Lifestyles Editor
The Picayune Item
Pat Crosby first moved to the Lamont Rowlands house in 1992.
Although she found the home in disrepair, she couldn’t imagine not living there and knew that was her new home.
“It just spoke to me, and it still does,” said Crosby, the wife of the late Tommy Crosby, son of R.H. Crosby. Tommy Crosby completely renovated the home and grounds.
Crosby owns one of two homes that were constructed for grove managers and were connected by one large kitchen facility with paths from each home to the facility. The house Crosby now owns was built by and for Lamont Rowlands. The other house was built for the grove manager, a Mr. Clark — Monti Clark’s father. Mark Clinton Davis, a local historian and editor of the Pearl River County Historical Society publication, “The Historical Reporter,” said, “ Mr. Clark’s home was sold to the Loveless family that owned the grocery store in Henleyfield (which) is now closed.
“I believe it was burned in the late ’60s, maybe early ’70s, but it was definitely burned when I moved here in the mid ’70s,” said Davis.
According to biographical notes from University of Mississippi Archives, Rowlands was a prominent businessman who was quite successful in the 1920s through 1940. He was a visionary who saw the profit to be made in the tung oil industry if introduced in the growth-conducive climate of the South He replanted hundreds of acres that had been harvested of their native longleaf pines and the land was considered undesirable and barren at the time.
Over the years the families have shared business interests as well as shared history in homes they have purchased.
Lamont Rowlands, a business partner of L.O. Crosby, Sr., bought the Hermitage around 1918 and expanded the home, and R.H. Crosby, the eldest son of L.O. Sr., purchased it from Rowlands. L.O. Sr., contrary to popular belief, never owned it, Davis said.
There is a local historical story Davis refers to surrounding a pair of clasping hands.
His grandmother Letitia Terrell referred to them in her diary when she recorded events concerning an old man who came walking up Columbia Road, sat down, and told her family about a young woman whom he had fallen in love with that lived in the Hermitage. He was torn away from her when the Civil War began, but before he left, he carved a pair of clasped hands. When he returned from the war to claim her, she was gone. A cast of the clasped hands hangs on a mantle in the Rowlands house that now belongs to Crosby.
“A relative made us all a cast of the hands when they hung at the Hermitage and my in-laws owned it. They are kept in the family,” said Crosby.
Real Estate broker Richard Teague believes the Rowlands House is truly one of the most historic homes in our county.
Teague said he personally saw these plans for the home, which were signed by the architect Dec. 7, 1941, the day the Japanese Imperial Fleet bombed Pearl Harbor.
Crosby said, “Blueprints for Rowlands house were on the Gulf Coast and were lost in Katrina.”
“It is amazing that the builder of this home was actually a former owner of what is undoubtedly the most historic home in the area, the Hermitage. There are many local notables involved in the history of this property; Lamont Rowlands was married to Ellen Josephine Goodyear, daughter of the Goodyear Yellow Pine Lumber Company, The C & R Store was named for Crosby and Rowlands, one time partners in a lumber company,” said Teague. “This home is as much of a part of our historical legacy as the Hermitage.”
(Contributions to this story were generously made by Mark Clinton Davis, who has devoted years researching local historical buildings and families.)