Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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The Artesian House (1891 - 1936)

 

 

LOCATION

The Artesian House was located on the southwest corner of Jackson and Porter Avenues in Lot 8 of Block 31 of the Culmseig Map (1854) of Ocean Springs.

 

Artesian House

BUILDING

The Artesian House was built in the Queen Anne architectural style.  It was a two-story wood frame structure with an area under roof of 4,320 square feet.  An eight-foot wide gallery facing north and east was present on both floors.  The kitchen was attached to the rear of the building and had an area of 486 square feet.  Located to the rear of the main structure was a small cabin of approximately 300 square feet.  North of the cabin there was a small stable of 240 square feet which faced Porter Avenue.  

HISTORY

The Cowan House

The Artesian House, sometimes called the Artesia House, was built by Alfred E. (Fred) Lewis (1862-1933) probably early in 1891.  A notice in the Biloxi Herald of November 8, 1890 stated, "Mr. Fred Lewis is to build a large hall with store underneath just opposite O'Keefe's Hotel".  This date is corroborated somewhat in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of March 11, 1892 by the following, "Mrs. D.D. Cowan's grocery business has been removed to the "Lewis Building" on the corner of Jackson and Porter Avenue where she will also keep boarders"

In May 1892, Mrs. Cowan advertised her business in The Biloxi Herald of May 7, 1892as:

 

The Cowan House

Cor. Jackson Street and Avenue

Ocean Springs, Miss.

Mrs. D.D. COWAN, Proprietress,

PRIVATE BOARDING

By the day, week or month.  Meals served at any hour on the European plan.

Excursionist’s Dinner 50 Cents

 

Mrs. Lillie L. Cowan (1862-1892), the wife of educator, D.D. Cowan, passed on July 28, 1892.  Her occupancy of the Lewis Building was short lived.

Mr. Lewis had acquired the N/2 of Lot 8 of Block 31 from F.M. Weed on September 11, 1890 for $400.  The tract measured 50 feet on Jackson Avenue and 200 feet on Porter.  Lewis sold G.E. Arndt 81 feet off the west end of the lot in October 1894 for $600.  Arndt built a cottage at present day 822 Porter circa 1895 which he rented to visitors from New Orleans and the Midwest.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 16, p. 455 and Bk. 16, p. 65)

Fred Lewis was the son of Colonel A.E. Lewis (1812-1885), a pioneer settler of Jackson County.  The elder Lewis was active in commerce and politics serving as Sheriff for fourteen years, and in the Mississippi State Legislature from 1850-1852.  He built Oldfields Plantation (1845) on the Mississippi Sound at Gautier where he raised stock, fruit trees, and crops.  Fred Lewis was married to Julia Johnson (1861-1933).  Their Alabama born adopted daughter, Marguerite Lewis (1890-1961), married Frank Raymond (1883-1952) who owned the Pines Hotel at Ocean Springs from 1925-1929.

Until 1895, Lewis resided north of the railroad bridge on the Bay of Biloxi in a home called “Mendenhall”.  In that year the home, was sold to Julia Rodriguez.  At this time, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis probably moved to the Fort Bayou Community southwest of Vancleave where they established a home, called "Sweet Heart", on 320 acres of land in Sections 23 and 24 of T6S-R8W.  Here Lewis operated a model agricultural enterprise.  He was lauded for his outstanding poultry, pecans, and peaches.  The Lewis family remained here in the country near the Antioch Baptist Church until their demise in 1933.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 16, p. 398 and The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, December 1, 1905, p. 3)

Fred Lewis like his father was active in politics, commerce, and served as the chief oyster inspector for the Mississippi Seafood Commission.  He also owned the water works at Ocean Springs.  Lewis supplied the town with artesian water from a well about 500 feet deep.  The well, tanks, and other equipment were located on a lot between Washington Avenue and Church Street just northwest of the Munro Shell Station on Bienville Boulevard.

On July 4, 1893, the official minutes of the Town of Ocean Springs relate that Lewis agreed to furnish water at no cost to the citizens of Ocean Springs for four public fountains.  On January 2, 1894, he agreed to furnish free water for fighting fires.  Because of his generosity with water to the people of Ocean Springs, Fred Lewis acquired the title, "the artesian prince".  It is easily understood why his hostelry once referred to as the Lewis House acquired the name, Artesian House, in February 1894.  Fred Lewis sold his waterworks to J.J. Kuhn of New Orleans in February 1898 for $4500.( JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 18, p. 531)

The Artesian House opened for business on February 1, 1894 under the capable management of Mrs. Samuel Backous.  Mrs. Backous was the wife of a Fayette County, Indiana farmer.  She advertised her business in the Ocean Springs Business Directory (1893-1894) as:

 

ARTESIAN HOUSE

Mrs. S. Backous, Proprietress

A Pleasant, Home-Like House, With All

the Comforts and Conveniences of a Modern Hotel.

RATES - $1.50 per day; $7.00 per week

Patronage of Tourists and Sample Rooms Free

Commercial Men Solicited

 

Evidently 1894 was a difficult year for the tourist business at Ocean Springs as The Pascagoula Democrat-Starannounced on March 15, 1895 that "the Artesian House closed its doors on account of hard times".  The Backous family moved to Texarkana, Texas in March 1904 to operate a farm.  They would return to Ocean Springs in March 1910 and start a farm near present day Clark and Government Street.  Samuel Backous purchased the O'Keefe Boarding House in 1910, and moved it from Porter to its present day location at 2122 Government.  Mrs. Alvah Clark owns it today.  With commerce in an apparent depressed state, Fred Lewis sold his Jackson Avenue inn to local real estate man, E.J. Morris (1849-1899) for $1775 on April 11, 1895.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 20, p. 618)

At this time journalist, Charles L. Dyer, was touring and writing about the Mexican Gulf Coast resorts for the L&N Railroad.  He would relate in his Along the Gulf (1895) the following about the Artesian House:

 

Another beautiful hotel at Ocean Springs is the Artesia House, which is a modern structure in every sense of the word and contains all the comforts of home.  Being the last hotel built at Ocean Springs, it naturally has many advantages over the older ones in the way of modern improvements.  It is built on the Queen Anne style and is right in the center of the city.  Its ceilings are high and the rooms large and airy.  It is the property of Mr. E.J. Morris, an enterprising gentleman of Ocean Springs, who has done much to advance the interest of the place.  He is a large real estate owner and the best informed man of that topic in the city. 

By late November 1895, E.J. Morris had sold the Artesian House to his mother, Ann Morris (1819-1900), for $700.  Mrs. Morris was also the proprietress of the Morris House at Ocean and Jackson Avenue.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 17, pp. 145-146) 

The modus operandi of some Ocean Springs hotel owners was to lease their property to others for the "seasons" which ran from April to September or November to March.  Mrs. Morris followed this trend and leased the Artesian House to Casper Vahle (1869-1922) in October 1899.  In November 1899, The Pascagoula Democrat-Star reported on several occasions that Casper Vahle had rented the Artesian House and that it would open after being refurbished where"the visitor can find the best accommodations".(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 20, pp. 639-640)

James H. Walley acquired the property from Anne Morris and owned it for a brief period.  He sold the hotel to Sidney J. Anderson (1867-1917), a Louisianan, on February 16, 1900 for $1000.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 21, pp. 150-151)

In the fall of 1900, Casper Vahle sued S.J. Anderson.  They settled their dispute by compromise.  Casper Vahle gave up his lease and Professor Sauls (1870-1909+) began his occupation of the Artesian House.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 2, 1900, p. 3)

Professor Sauls and his family moved from their cottage on Porter to reside with some of the school boarders at the Artesian House during the 1900-1901 school term. The Artesian House was situated on the southwest corner of Jackson and Porter diagonally opposite the J.J. O’Keefe boarding house. The Sauls rented their home to H.H. Richardson and his spouse of Chicago who were wintering here.  Mr. Richardson had Gregoire Wieder (1849-1899) erect his cottage at present day 605 Porter in 1895.  He vended it to Belle Caraway Sauls (1877-1904+) in May 1898.(The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, November 9, 1900, p. 3 and JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 19, p. 75)

 The S.J. Anderson family lived on Bluff Creek at Vancleave north of Ocean Springs.  Here they owned and operated a mercantile store which was purchased from Andrew W. Ramsay (1830-1916) in March 1896.  The wharves and storehouses of Ramsay were located in the NE/4, NE/4 of Section 16, T6S-R7W.  Mr. Anderson was a director of the new Ocean Springs State Bank when it opened its doors on Washington Avenue in March 1905.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 30, p. 478)

 By the fall of 1900, S.J. Anderson had rented the Artesian House to J.C. Dearborn who took possession in November.  November also saw Professor Q.D. Sauls become a tenant, and Casper Vahle in a dispute with the Andersons probably over his lease.  Captain John Johnson also lived here before moving to Biloxi after he lost $800 when 700 barrels of his oysters froze.  The temperature had plummeted to one degree Fahrenheit on February 13, 1899.

The Oak View Hotel

The Andersons changed the name of the hostelry to the Oak View Hotel in 1904 or 1905.  This fact is corroborated by a notice on January 30, 1904, when The Ocean Springs News reported that, "J.L. McDaniel has rented the lower floor of the Knights of Pythias building and moved his fruit and vegetable stand from the Artesian House".  A notice in The Pascagoula Democrat-Star of September 1, 1905 referred to it as the Oak View Hotel.

In mid-May 1904, vandals wrought havoc along West Porter, when they smeared colored paint on the Methodist and St. John’s Episcopal Church, as well as the Artesian House.  Fences and walks were also marred by the night marauders.  It marked the first time in the town’s history that houses of worship had been defiled.(The Progress, May 14, 1904, p. 4)

The Andersons would run the hotel for over twenty years.  Mrs. Caroline Anderson was born at New Orleans in 1873.  Her father was Eugene Gaspard, a native of France.  She and S.J. Anderson married circa 1889 and had two children:  Malvina J. Bernard Cotter (1890-1954+) of Eddy County, New Mexico and Frank Sidney Anderson (1893-1923+).  Children:  Catherine G. Buendia (1954)? of NOLA, Frank Sidney Anderson, Jr. of Napa Co., Calf., and Doris Jean Lewis (1954+) of Harris Co., Texas?.

S.J. Anderson had a frightening experience in the Hurricane of October 1915.  During the tempest, his schooner was anchored at the New Basin in New Orleans.  Anderson went to check on his vessel with winds roaring at one hundred miles per hour.  He boarded the floundering boat and threw out double anchors to secure it.  As he was about to leave the vessel, the wind hurled the roof of a cotton warehouse upon the schooner falling both masts and narrowly missing the anxious Anderson.  He also lost a schooner in the Rigloets Marsh.

In June 1911, The Ocean Springs News reported that, “The Artesian House has leased to a gentleman by the name of McDonald,  from Florida, for a term of three years”.(The Ocean Springs News, June 10, 1911, p. 5) 

In November 1915, the Andersons advertised their enterprise in The Ocean Springs News: 

Rooms For Rent

Rooms for light housekeeping.  Apply at the Oak View Hotel

or to S.J. Anderson, Vancleave, phone 109-2.

 

The Anderson Apartments

By December 1915, the name of the Oak View Hotel had been changed to the Anderson Apartments.  On December 2, 1915, The Ocean Springs News described this enterprise as:  Each apartment consists of two rooms, with all appurtenances for light housekeeping; also bath, electric light, and telephone service.  These apartments, ten in number, are centrally located, and should appeal to our visiting friends, wishing to spend a season in our delightful climate, and enjoy all the comforts of home, with the charming hostess, Mrs. Anderson, who spares nothing for the comfort of her patrons.

In late September 1917, the Andersons went to Hot Springs, Arkansas as Mr. Anderson's health was failing.  Unfortunately, he died there on October 3, 1917.  Anderson's remains were sent to New Orleans for interment in the Greenwood Cemetery.  The funeral was held at the home of H. Moskan at 2713 Bienville Street.  Moskan was the brother-in-law of Sidney Anderson.

On April 28, 1920, Caroline Gaspard Anderson, now the widow of S.J. Anderson, conveyed the property now known as the Anderson Apartments to her mother, Barbara Martiau Gaspard (1852-1931), for $2800.  Caroline relocated to New Orleans and participated with her son, Frank S. Anderson, in a firm called the Orleans Advertisement & Street Guide Company.  They officed at 618 Commercial Place in the Balter Building.  In 1922, she moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico for a few years returning to New Orlerans circa 1925.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 48, pp. 87-88)

Mrs. Gaspard was a Louisiana native and widow of Eugene Gaspard, a Frenchman.  Her other children were:  Mrs. J. Fitzner, Mrs. H. Moskan, and Mrs. Annie Rehage.  It is possible that Mrs. Gaspard leased the building to a Mrs. G.F. Frush.  An advertisement appeared in The Jackson County Times of November 19, 1921 stating: 

THE HOME BOARDING HOUSE

$15/week Room and Board

$9/week Table Board

Meals $.50

Mrs. G.F. Frush

Jackson Avenue 

In January 1922, The Jackson County Times advertised:

HOME BOARDING HOUSE

Wanted

10 or 12 Boarders & Roomers

at

THE HOME BOARDING HOUSE

Mrs. G.F. Frush

Phone 88

Jackson Avenue-Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Based on the number of roomers wanted, and the location of the business, there is a probability that the Home Boarding House was the old Artesian House.  Octogenarian, Arlene Muzzy White  (1908-2000), remembered that Mrs. Frush operating a boarding house in the 1920s on Washington Avenue at a location near the present day Community Center.  Pearl Frush, a daughter, became a successful commercial artist at Chicago.  She studied art at Nichol’s School of Commercial Art in New Orleans and attended Annette McConnell Anderson’s art colony in the summer of 1926.  Miss White remembers that the Frushes were from North Dakota and Iowa.(The Jackson County Times, June 12, 1926, p. 3)

Mrs. Gaspard sold the inn to the Crescent Realty Company with all furniture on July 5, 1925 for $7500.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 57, pp. 93-94)

The Crescent City Realty Company, a Louisiana Corporation, was represented at Ocean Springs by W.J. Hardke (1877-1932) and John Leo Dickey (1880-1938) both natives of Niles, Michigan.  There was a rumor at this time that a colony of twenty-one families from Niles, Michigan would move to Ocean Springs.  Some were to reside at the Anderson Apartments.

During the Crescent City Realty Company's proprietorship, the name of the hostelry was changed to the White House.  The Jackson County Times of August 25, 1925, reported that E.E. Woodford recently purchased the Anderson Apartments. Victor Toche (1887-1962) painted the building, and Woodford, who probably had a lease on the property, named the edifice, The White House Apartments.  Woodford may have employed Mrs. L.A. Elwyn, who was born at Indiana in 1882, as the resident manager.  Crescent City Realty lost their Jackson Avenue property when they defaulted on a deed of trust held by Lester F. Alexander of New Orleans.

Lester F. Alexander was a partner with John Leo Dickey.  Their company, the Lester F. Alexander Construction Company, specialized in river engineering projects such as, jetties, docks, and locks.  In June 1922, Dickey purchased "Bay View", the Christian Hanson (1845-1914) home off Shearwater Drive, which he renamed Shadowlawn. 

The demise of the aging Queen Anne structure came during the Great Depression.  The Jackson County Times of July 18, 1936 reported the following in Local and Personal:

Another landmark in Ocean Springs will soon disappear.  The White House is being demolished by Charles Braun of Biloxi.  This building a large two-story structure was built in the early nineties at a cost of about $5000, when lumber and labor were cheap.  It was sold to the wrecker for $300.  The material is all heart lumber and most of it is in perfect condition.  We believe the lumber will be moved to Biloxi.  Mrs. L.A. Elwyn has occupied the place for the last nine years.

Mrs. Gladys Alexander bought the abandoned site for $1750 in a trustee's sale on May 3, 1937.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 70, p. 35)

For many years, the St. Paul United Methodist Church owned the empty lot on the corner of Jackson and Porter, which was the former site of the Artesian House.  Ray L. Bellande acquired it from them in October 2002.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 1279, p. 290)

 

REFERENCES:

Ray L. Bellande, "The Hanson-Widmer House", (unpublished essay), March 1993. 

C.E. Schmidt, Ocean Springs French Beachhead, (Lewis Printing Services: Pascagoula - 1972), p. 63.

 The History of Jackson County, Mississippi, "Lewis Family", (Jackson County Genealogical Society: Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), p. 265.

The History of Jackson County , "John and Jennie Dickey", (Jackson County Genealogical Society:Pascagoula, Mississippi-1989), p. 190.

Jackson County Chancery Court Cause No. 4390, “W.T. Burt Company v. Caroline J. Anderson”, October 31, 1923.

Jackson County, Mississippi Land Assessment Roll (1902), "A.E. Lewis", pp. 199-200.

 

Journals

The Biloxi Herald, November 8, 1890, p. 4.

The Biloxi Herald, “The Cowan House”, (advertisement), May 7, 1892.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, February 21, 1899, p. 8.

The Biloxi Daily Herald, January 13, 1900, p. 8.

The Daily Herald"Sidney Anderson, 50, Dead", October 5, 1917, p. 6.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 6, 1925.

The Jackson County Times, “Local and Personal”, June 27, 1925.

The Jackson County Times"Local and Personal", August 15, 1925.

 

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, January 8, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, March 19, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, June 10, 1911.

The Ocean Springs News"Anderson Has Narrow Escape From Death", October 7, 1915, p. 2, The Ocean Springs Record, photo of "Anderson Apartments", January 2, 1969, p. 11.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, "Ocean Springs Locals", February 23, 1894.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Local", November 3, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", November 17, 1899.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", September 21, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", November 2, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Ocean Springs Locals”, November 9, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star"Ocean Springs Locals", March 31, 1905.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, September 1, 1905, p. 3.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Local News”, December 1, 1905.

The Progress, "Local News Items", March 5, 1904.

The Progress, “Local News Items”, May 14, 1904.

 

Maps

Sanborn Map Company (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi", (1904)-Sheet 2.

US Census - Jackson County, Mississippi (1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920).

 

Personal Communication:

George E. Arndt

Ruth Dickey Scharr

Orwin Scharr

Arlene White