Manship House Museum
Historic Structure Report and Condition Assessment


Click here for the MDAH News Release. 

WFT Architect, P.A. finished the Historic Structure Report and Condition Assessment for The Manship House the end of 2009. The goal of the problem-seeking or building pathology process as applied to the Manship House investigation is an assessment of its current condition followed by recommendations for remediating conditions detrimental to its preservation. Essentially, this involves a structured methodology tailored to a particular building in a particular location, in this case the Manship House.

The Manship House has been a long-standing representation of change in architecture especially during the Civil War era in the South.  Its style introduced picturesque Gothic Revival architecture to the South, which was a shift away from the ubiquitous classical styles of southern architecture.  At the time of its design and construction, the Manship House’s unique style reflected Charles Manship’s interest in culture and travel and his sympathy for the common American.
In 1857, Manship began constructing his house on a plot of land now located at the northeast corner of the intersection of North West and Fortification streets. At that time, the land was considered outside the city and offered a respite from the activity of downtown Jackson. The house’s Gothic Revival style, especially apparent on the exterior, represents at a local level the broader transition in architectural taste away from the Greek Revival.  It was and is perhaps widely recognized as one of the first examples of the picturesque style in Mississippi and in the region.

A deep veranda extends across the Manship House’s west elevation, interrupted only by a prominent central gabled porch. In addition to three tall chimneys with distinctive double diamond stacks, the central porch is the most prominent feature of the house, and its steeply gabled roof with elaborate bargeboards affirms its Gothic inspiration.  A gracious set of steps flanked by sidewalls, leads one up to the porch and through a wide and flat pointed archway to a pair of arched entrance doors flanked by glazed sidelights.  Decorative iron posts and railings in grapevine patterns embellish the west (front) veranda and another along the house’s south side. Three massive brick chimneys punctuate the otherwise simple roofline.  Most of the exterior is covered with hardwood lap siding and trim native to Mississippi with walls accentuated by a detailed drip molding above each window.  Although, it is not certain that Charles Manship had a copy of Downing’s sketch, the Manship House still remains a prime example of Downing’s ideas and an attempt to adapt the rural Gothic style to the demands of a southern climate. 
Interior finishes, although quite handsome, are nonetheless appropriately modest.  Instead of using expensive marble and more exotic woods, Charles Manship used his considerable expertise in decorative painting and woodworking to create faux finishes on less expensive wood, plaster and wallpaper.  He painted common pine and cypress doors and trim to resemble mahogany.  He used a painting technique called graining to render wallpaper over plaster as fine oak paneling, while other wooden features such as fireplace surrounds were grained to resemble marble.This technique was a popular method during the 19th Century for enhancing ordinary materials to appear richer and more costly. 
Charles Manship’s interest in architectural design and his use of his own house as a showcase for his decorative painting skills resulted in a unique building that represents the changing architectural tastes of the time and exemplifies the common application of the decorative arts in house construction prior to the Second World War. The Manship House stands as an important artifact that connects us directly to the life of one of Jackson’s most important early leaders. 


Over the years, the foundation of the Manship house underwent considerable settling, creating a drastic difference in finished floor elevation between and front and rear of the house and resulting in multiple severe cracks around doors and windows. In addition to the foundation issues, water had been entering the roof at the gaps between the fireplace chimneys and the surrounding roof decking boards.

Foundation Repair                      Final Documentation Photography

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