G. W. Nesom House

history-Nesom_HouseHistoric Name: G. W. Nesom House
Address: 50023 Highway 51 North
City:  Tickfaw
Parish:  Tangipahoa
State: LA
Zipcode: 70466
Status:  National Register
Date Placed on National Register: 8/29/1997
Level of Significance: Local
Area of Significance:  Architecture
Property Type: Urban Residence
Architectural Style: Queen Anne Revival, Stick/Eastlake
Theme: Anglo-American Architecture

The G. W. Nesom House is a two-story frame Queen Anne Revival style residence featuring Eastlake gallery details. It stands at the intersection of two busy highways in the largely rural Tangipahoa Parish community of Tickfaw. Although it has received some alteration since its 1903-1906 construction and is currently undergoing restoration, the house remains eligible for National Register listing.

The house is organized around a central hall floor plan with three rooms on each side and an additional room attached at the rear. Several of these rooms project slightly from the home’s main mass, giving the building the asymmetrical footprint often associated with the Queen Anne style. Other Queen Anne features found on the dwelling include a more pronounced projecting bay surmounted by a conical shaped roof suggestive of a turret, a two-level wraparound gallery, and the presence of a flared skirt between the two galleries. The skirt was intended to provide texture by varying the building’s otherwise flat walls. A historic photo (copy included) shows that the skirt was once sheathed by patterned shingles.

The home’s two-story gallery is ornamented largely in the Eastlake style. Its special features include:

1) turned columns,

    • 2) turned balusters and abacus-like spindle screens outlining the first and second level gallery roofs. Although the original balusters were rotten and had to be replaced, the screens are original to the gallery.
    • 3) original brackets in two different styles and sizes. The smaller of the two bracket types is Eastlake in style and is composed of turned diagonal members. These are found attached to the gallery columns just below the spindle screens. The larger brackets are carved rather than turned and appear more Italianate than Eastlake. This resemblance is strengthened by the fact that these brackets always appear in pairs. Although the latter brackets are also found beneath the previously mentioned flared skirt, they are especially noticeable beneath the overhanging eaves of the projecting bay’s conical roof.

The Nesom home’s interior is typical of the period. It features one Eastlake and two other more simply styled mantels, bull’s eye corner blocks highlighting important door and window surrounds, tall molded baseboards, a hallway wainscot, paneled doors, transoms above doors, and a set of folding glass doors between two main rooms. The interior also contains a staircase

featuring two massive newel posts (one at the top and one at the bottom) comprised of thick posts surmounted by large spheres. The shaft of the upstairs newel post is reeded, while the shaft of the lower newel post is paneled.

In addition to the previously mentioned loss of the textured shingles and the replacement of the rotten Eastlake gallery balusters, the home has experienced the following alterations:

    • 1) the addition of two bathrooms (one on each floor) carved from whet were formerly large bedroom spaces. This change also resulted in the alteration of three of the home’s rear windows.
    • 2) the lengthening of the bottom floor wraparound gallery on the south side of the house by six feet, the enclosure of much of the rear porch, the removal of the chimneys above the roofline, the placement of vinyl tile over the wood floor in one downstairs room, and the loss of one mantel.
    • 3) the insertion of a kitchen into the upper floor when the house was converted into apartments, and the modernization of the first floor kitchen during the 1950s. This work also included the cutting of a large opening between the lower floor kitchen and the adjoining room and the insertion of a double window on the kitchen’s north wall.
    • 4) the attachment of a modern metal shed roof carport to the rear elevation.
    • 5) the addition of sheetrock on all interior walls and ceilings (part of the current restoration).

Although this list of alterations may at first glance seem significant, in reality the only important change to the house has been the removal of the textured shingles from the surface of the facade’s flared skirt. Although the gallery rail’s balusters are replaced, those replacements closely resemble the originals. Furthermore, the owner estimates that, when considering all of the Eastlake elements found on the gallery, over 80 percent of the material is original and only 20 percent is replacement. Otherwise, virtually all of the important features which make the Nesom House architecturally significant survive intact. This is especially true of the turret-like treatment of the projecting bay — a hallmark of the Queen Anne style. Thus, the Nesom Home is eligible for the National Register as a notable example of elaborate Queen Anne Revival style massing within Tangipahoa Parish (see part 8).

Significant dates

Architect/Builder

Criterion

The G. W. Nesom House is locally significant in the area of architecture because it is an important example of the Queen Anne Revival style within Tangipahoa Parish. It achieves this distinction chiefly because of its elaborate massing, created by its prominent turret-like projection with conical roof. The house is also notable for its well-developed Eastlake gallery. Finally, it is one of a limited number of two story examples of the Queen Anne/Eastlake influence in the parish.

Located in Louisiana’s Florida parishes, the area which would become Tangipahoa Parish is named for the Tangipahoa River which rises in Mississippi and flows southward into Lake Pontchartrain. Early settlers in the northern area of the parish represented the Protestant Upland South culture and produced crops such as rice, cotton, cane syrup and tobacco. Settlers to the south represented the Latin and Catholic cultures; their primary products included lumber, tar and naval stores. However, the area remained sparsely settled and almost completely rural until the mid-1850s, when the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern Railroad (N.O.J. & G.N.) was completed through the region to the Mississippi state line. The railroad’s arrival stimulated development, including the establishment of stations at ten mile intervals along the tracks. An expansion of service in 1857-58 brought additional development; farms, mills, stores, and towns began to appear near the stations. Although this important transportation artery was all but destroyed during the Civil War, it had been rebuilt by 1869. By that year settlement along the railroad had grown to such an extent that the need for a new parish became evident. As a result, Tangipahoa Parish (averaging 19 miles in width and 49 miles in length) was carved from St. Tammany, Washington, St. Helena, and Livingston parishes in that year.

After the war the lumber industry expanded as northerners moved south to take advantage of the area’s dense forests. By the mid-1880s several large sawmills were located in local communities. However, most of the land had been cut over by the end of the nineteenth century. The cultivation and sale of strawberries has proven to be a more lasting industry for Tangipahoa Parish. Rail shipment of this fruit began in 1886 and in 1893 the Illinois Central (which had taken over the N.O.J. & G.N.) sent an agricultural agent to the area to assist growers in expanding production. Soon carloads, and then trainloads, of berries were rolling northward. It was this prosperity which helped build the parish’s collection of Queen Anne Revival style houses.

Elaborate massing is one of the most identifiable characteristics of the Queen Anne Revival style. This feature is usually reflected on Queen Anne houses through a series of roofline cross gables, and/or the presence of a tower or turret-like element. Considered a luxury item because it contributes very little extra floor space at considerable cost, the turret is regarded as the absolute apex of the style and is the feature which distinguishes grand Queen Anne style houses from the lesser examples. However, in Louisiana the majority of Queen Anne style houses take a very different form. The typical Louisiana version of the Queen Anne style house is a one or one-and-a-half story horizontal rambling cottage with modest, conservative styling. Although the type sometimes has a wraparound gallery, it is more likely to display a two or three bay gallery across half the front, a projecting polygonal bay under a gable and, perhaps, a small amount of decorative shingling or gable peak ornamentation. Some examples display elaborate massing, but the majority have simple tripped or gabled roofs.

Tangipahoa Parish has not been surveyed, but the Louisiana National Register staff is very familiar with the resources there due to numerous visits and windshield surveys of the major population centers. These include the towns of Amite, Hammond, Independence and Ponchatoula. Tangipahoa Parish has numerous versions of the above described typical Louisiana Queen Anne house, especially in Amite and Ponchatoula. However, the parish has only a small number, perhaps as many as twenty-four, of the more elaborately massed cross gabled and/or turreted houses, in both one and two story forms. The Nesom house is one of this number and stands out against the parish’s more pedestrian Queen Anne patrimony because of its elaborate massing, formed by its prominent turret-like projection which dominates its facade and roof. It is one of only five houses to feature a turret or turret-like projection. Additionally, it is one of only about a dozen two story examples of the Queen Anne/Eastlake taste in the parish.

Finally, the home’s Eastlake gallery adds to its architectural significance. Although a number of Eastlake galleries can be found in Tangipahoa Parish, the majority are low-key examples which display only one or two hesitant touches of the style — perhaps a series of columns or brackets applied to an otherwise small, simple, one story house. The Nesom house is one of a small number of major examples which have consistent and fully developed articulation. This ornament consists of original turned Eastlake columns, spindle screens, brackets with turned rather than the more usual jigsaw cut members, and replaced balusters. And this ornament is found on both the upper and lower portions of the home’s double gallery. Thus, the gallery is one of Tangipahoa Parish’s prominent examples of the Eastlake style.

Historical Note

A native of St. Helena Parish, George Wilburn Nesom moved to Tickfaw (Tangipahoa Parish), Louisiana, in 1897. He soon opened the G. W. Nesom Mercantile and became very active in the community. In 1898 he was appointed postmaster, in which capacity he served until his death in 1933. Nesom married Cornelia Eleanor Arbuthnot in 1902 and the next year surprised her by building a large house for their growing family.

Beginning in 1915 Nesom served on the Tangipahoa Parish School Board for twelve years. He also helped to organize Hammond Junior College (now Southeastern Louisiana University), which he served as a member of the Board of Advisors for five years. He and Cornelia also apparently allowed some of the school’s financially struggling students to live in their home.

After her husband’s death, Cornelia Nesom lived in the house until her death in 1951. The house remained in the family until 1995, when it was purchased by the current owners. They are restoring it for use as a bed and breakfast inn.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“A History of the G. W. Nesom House,” Tickfaw, LA.; copy in National Register file.

Historic photographs of G. W. Nesom House, c. 1903 and 1907; copies in National Register file.

Staff knowledge of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana.

Woolfolk, Doug, Editor, Tangipahoa Crossings. Excursions into Tangipahoa History. Baton Rouge:

Moran Publishing Corporation, 1979.