October 23, 2020

State history experts need your help, seek old photos of historic Windsor Ruins

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History is seeking the public’s help in solving a mystery involving the Windsor Plantation Ruins in Claiborne County.

Archives and History officials are looking for photographs of the ruins taken between 1942 and 1971 to determine when one of its masonry columns was lost.

The Ruins were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and designated a Mississippi Landmark in 1985.

Windsor Plantation was built for Smith Coffee Daniell II in 1861. One of the largest private residences in the state before the Civil War, the mansion featured 29 Corinthian columns, each 45 feet tall. In 1890, a fire destroyed the home.

According to Archives and History, 23 full columns and five partial columns remain standing.

It was believed the missing columns were lost during the fire, but a 2017 study of the site conducted by architectural conservator George Fore has cast doubt on the claim.

Mingo Tingle, chief of MDAH Technical Preservation Services, said Fore’s report indicated three of the columns presently missing were still standing as late as 1910.

“We are trying to figure out when its 17th column was lost,” Tingle said. “It’s pictured in Eudora Welty’s 1942 photo of the ruins but missing in a National Park Service photograph taken in 1971. Having more pictures of Windsor Ruins from this period will help us solve this puzzle.”

Anyone with photos of Windsor Ruins taken between 1942 and 1971 can email Tingle with a detailed description with their submission at mtingle@mdah.ms.gov.