Interesting Things

By Ray L. Bellande

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The Eglin House (1906 - 1968)

 

 

 

LOCATION

The Eglin House was located on the west side of Washington Avenue at Bowen Avenue in Lot 9, Block 27 of the Culmseig Map (1854).

 

BUILDING

The Eglin House was a wood frame, one and two-story edifice of approximately 5100 square feet.  The front of the house had a hip roof while a flat roof graced the west half of the structure.  The facade of the house consisted of five bays.  A central, transomed door with side lights was symmetrically flanked by four, full length, shuttered windows.  The front galley (350 square feet) was marked by six turned post with decorative sawn brackets, and a fine balustrade. The posts supported a projecting hip roof and a belvedere (135 square feet) which had turned posts, brackets, and balustrade similar to the gallery.  This configuration also sustained a projecting gable roof.

 

Eglin House (circa 1935)

[Courtesy of Dorothy Eglin Dees McKinnon]

HISTORY

Ocean Springs pioneer settler, Albert M. Eglin (1852-1891) a French speaking immigrant from Alsace in northeastern France settled at Ocean Springs circa 1870.  In September 1873, he purchased Lot 9 of Block 27 from F.W. Illing for $400.  The lot had a front of 105 feet on Washington Avenue.  It and was 200 feet deep, and faced Bowen Avenue to the east.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 2, pp. 153-154)

Albert M. Eglin married Amelia Solitelle Krohn (1855-1916) on October 30, 1873.  She was the daughter of John Henry Krohn (1831-1912) and Zeolide Seymour (1836-1898).  Amelia Krohn acquired Lot 10 contiguous to their homestead to the south on Washington Avenue from her father, John H. Krohn, in September 1887.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 8, p. 722)

The Eglins reared nine children at Ocean Springs:  Albert M. Eglin (1874-1904), Eugenia G. Armstrong (1877-1962), John R. Eglin (1879-1946), Annie O. Eglin (1881-1963), Charles W. Eglin (1883-1966), Lillie M. Busbee (b. 1885), Verna Eglin (1886-1886), Thomas A. Eglin (1887-1914), Lena E. Gilbert (1890-1928).

Eglin made his livelihood as a butcher, a trade which was followed by his son, Charles Eglin.  After his death in 1891, Mrs. Eglin and young sons, Charles and John continued the meat market on Washington Avenue.  In the 1894 Ocean Springs Directory, Mrs. Eglin ran the following advertisement:

Mrs. A. Eglin  (Widow)

CITY MARKET

Fresh Beef, Mutton, Veal, Pork, etc., etc.

Free Delivery-Always ready to buy desirable market stock

The year 1904 commenced on a sad note as a fire had destroyed three buildings on their Washington Avenue property in December of 1903.  A few weeks later, Mrs. Eglins eldest son, Albert, died on January 19th at the young age of twenty nine years.  Another tragedy struck the Eglin family in 1914, when Tom Eglin, a flagman for the L&N Railroad was murdered at Gentilly, east of New Orleans.  He was shot by two masked bandits while aboard the New York Limited (No. 38).

The Eglins were very hard working people.  Almost immediately after the 1903 fire, Mrs. Amelia Eglin began rebuilding.  She added on to her restaurant, and was considering a new store building to replace the one destroyed by the conflagration. 

1906 Eglin House

In March 1906, The Biloxi Herald related that Mrs. Eglin was preparing to build a two-story residence on the same site as her comflgration ravaged former domicile.  The 1909 Sanborn Insurance Map of Ocean Springs corroborates that the Eglin family had built a large two-story house on Lot 9 which would become their rooming and boarding house.  There is a good possibility that it was in operation as early as 1909.  In the 1910 Federal Census, Amelia Eglin lists her occupation as boarding house proprietor.( The Biloxi Herald, March 1, 1906, p. 1)

In 1916, the following advertisement appeared in a pamphlet on Ocean Springs:

THE EGLIN HOUSE

FURNISHED ROOMS

By the Day, Week or Month    Rates Reasonable

FIRST CLASS RESTAURANT

IN CONNECTION

THE EGLIN HOUSE is operated by Mrs. A. Eglin. who provides first-class accomodations for winter tourists.  Her rooms are comfortably furnished, and adjoining her home is a first-class restaurant.  Mrs. Eglin has been identified withOcean Springs for forty-one years.  She is the proprietor of Eglin's meat market, which has been established all of these years.  She owns considerable real estate and takes an active interest in the building of Ocean Springs.  (reprinted in the The Ocean Springs NewsJanuary 6, 1966, p. 2)

Through the years, the Eglin family was deeply involved in the commerce along Washington Avenue.  At various times, an Eglin was involved in such businesses as:  feed store, pool hall, meat market, grocery store, lunch room, restaurant, mercantile store, dry cleaning, and rooming house.  A good example of Eglin entrepreneurial spirit was exhibited in March 1927, as reported by The Jackson County Times:  The grocery store owned by John R. Eglin and meat market owned by Charles Eglin will soon be under one roof.  Contractor Frank Galle, Sr is now remodeling the building and putting a new roof over both.  A partition will separate the two businesses, but there will be an inside connecting door.  The alteration will give the grocery store a much larger space to display goods.

In September 1916, Mrs. Annie Eglin, the widow of Albert Eglin, married John Donovan of Mobile at the residence of Walter Armstrong.  Will reside in Mobile.(The Jackson County Times, September 16, 1916)

In June 1917, Annie O. Eglin purchased the Eglin House from the Heirs of Amelia Eglin who had died in May 1916.  Miss Annie Eglin had commenced her career at the telephone exchange above Nill's Drugstore in August 1900.  By 1902, she had taken a position as a school teacher at the Dogwood Point School in the Larue Community north of Ocean Springs.  Annie boarded with the McDaniels family.  In 1909, she had attended a business college in Mobile, and after a few years with a local drugstore, began a career circa 1915 in commercial banking with the Ocean Springs State Bank.  By 1920, Annie Eglin was the assistant cashier of the bank and would serve as cashier for many decades retiring about 1954, when the Pascagoula-Moss Point Bank bought out the Ocean Springs State Bank.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 43, p. 608)

In May 1927, large additon was made to the Eglin House by Contractor Gid Tillman.  The addition was to provide more space for entertaining house guests.(The Daily Herald, May 23, 1927, p. 8)

During her many years as proprietor of the Eglin House, Annie Eglin always resided there.  It had a "homey" atmosphere and was very comfortable in the winter with its steam heat.  There was a porch swing and rocking chairs.  Several of the older, widowed, ladies lived here and would enjoy their time in idle conversation on the large gallery.  In addition to the seven "tourist" rooms as they were called, there were also five apartments.  Permanent guests resided in the apartments.  Some of these long term residents were:  Chester McPhearson (1883-1969), Mrs. Roy Sousley, James and Marie I. Farley (1903-1977), Erica Carson and Mrs. Riley.  Several single school teachers also lived at the Eglin House throughout the years.  Elsie Seymour Ryan (1905-1989) worked for Miss Eglin as a cook and housekeeper from the late 1930s to the early 1950s.

After Miss Annie Eglin's demise in 1963, the Eglin House was struck by catastrophe.  In the early morning hours of September 22, 1964, a fire commenced in the roof of the building.  Fire fighters from Ocean Springs and Biloxi responded to the alarm.  With a valiant effort, they kept the fire contained to the second floor.  Several residents on the upper level were stranded and had to be rescued by ladder.  Unfortunately one elderly resident, Mr. James E. Farley (1880-1964), lost his life in the conflagration.  The upper level of the Eglin House was completely destroyed by the fire.  The first floor suffered heat and water ruin.  The loss to the Eglin heirs was estimated at $50,000.  Clarence Galle (1912-1986) tore down the old structure in January 1968.  Thusly, closed the final chapter in the fifty plus year life of one of Washington Avenues most historic architectural treasures. 

Realtor, J.K. Lemon (1914-1998), purchased the vacant lot from Don Y. Eglin and the other Eglin heirs in April 1968.  Mr. Lemon then sold the property to the Catholic Charities Housing Association of Biloxi in February 1970.  The Roman Catholic Church built the Villa Maria retirement home on a portion of the former Eglin House site in 1970-1971.  The dedication ceremonies for the $3.5 million structure were held November 28, 1971.(JXCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 333, p. 23 and Bk. 371, p. 502)

 

REFERENCES:

 

Brother Jerome Lepre, The Krohn Family, (Lepre: New Orleans, Louisian-1989).

 

Marriages-Harrison County, Mississippi (1841-1899), compiled by Grace Husly and Minnie Atkins, p. 23.

 

The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, March 1, 1906.

The Daily Herald"Tom Eglin, Murdered in L&N Holdup", July 25, 1914, p. 1.

The Daily Herald, “Ocean Springs”, May 23, 1922.

The Daily Herald"Man Dies In Fire At Ocean Springs Apartment House", September 22, 1964, p. 1 and 23.

The Jackson County Times, “Local News Items”, September 16, 1916.

The Jackson County Times“Local and Personal”, March 26, 1927.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, February 6, 1909.

The Ocean Springs News“Local News”, February 26, 1910.

The Ocean Springs News"Mrs. Amelia Eglin Passes Away", June 1, 1916, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs News"Landmark Makes Way For Progress", January 10, 1968, p. 1.

The Ocean Springs Record"Ribbon Cutting For Villa Maria", December 2, 1971, p. 1.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star“Ocean Springs Locals”, August 24, 1900.

The Pascagoula Democrat-Star“Ocean Springs Locals”, May 23, 1902.

The Progress, January 16, 1904.

Maps

Sanborn Map Company (New York), "Ocean Springs, Mississippi" (1909), Sheet 2, and (1925), Sheet 4.

Personal Communication:

Alma Eglin Garlick - August 1993

J.K. Lemon - August 1993

Dorothy Eglin Dees McKinnon - August 1993

Robin Ann McKinnon - August 1993

Elaine Ryan Miller - September 1993