The absolute highlight of our Delta Tour was the grand old southern town of Greenwood, Mississippi. Named for the last Great Chief of the Choctaw Nation in Mississippi, Greenwood Leflore, Greenwood is the county seat of Leflore County, Mississippi. The town itself sits on both sides of a stretch of the Yazoo River, which empties into the Mississippi River just north of Vicksburg. Greenwood is home to a number of lovely "cotton mansions" that occupy its beautiful tree-lined streets.
This Mississippi historical marker pictured above occupies a vantage spot on River Road which runs along the Yazoo River. Although the town is built on both sides of the river, the older downtown section, with its narrow streets and alleys and historical buildings, occupies the side not seen in the photo. The marker tells the story of the "Greenwood Cotton Row District," a district comprised the "state's most important concentration of buildings associated with marketing of cotton and with the state's post-Civil War cotton boom," and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Arriving in Greenwood in mid-afternoon on Memorial Day, we were headed to one of the lovely residences of times gone by when "Cotton was King." Our destination was the Bridgewater Inn, located at 501 River Road, where we had reservations for the night. Innkeepers and Hosts for the evening were native Mississippians Lucy Branch Cooper Hodges and her husband, James Hodges. Actually, Lucy and I are cousins, having descended from a common ancestor, Edward Tillman Branch, who migrated from Virginia to Mississippi in the early 1800's. James Hodges also has a connection to the Branch family through an elderly aunt.
This is a view of the front of the Bridgewater Inn, Greenwood, Mississippi, and what we saw as we drove to its address at 501 River Road . The view from the lower and the upper galleries of the house offer an unobstructed view of the waters of the Yazoo River. When we arrived at the Bridgewater Inn, I could not wait to sit in one of the inviting white rockers that occupied the downstairs gallery that ran the entire width of the house. And I didn't waste much time doing just that! I felt as if I needed to be wearing a hoop skirt and sipping on a mint julep while I watched the swift, muddy waters of the swollen Yazoo River flow by.
Entering the front door of this 1910 Greek Revival home, a visitor immediately sees the Drawing Room to the right of the front door.
In the late 1990's, Lucy Branch Cooper purchased the house from Dr. Donald Pierce, a local physician, and began an intensive restoration project. Lucy personally decorated the grand residence with exquisite period pieces exuding style and elegance. The house has a genuinely regal feel to it, thanks to Lucy's decorating expertise, but each room is inviting, warm, and comfortable, as well. As we wandered through the house, amazed by the ornate antique furniture that graces each room, I was pleasantly surprised to find a chef's kitchen filled with the latest in Viking appliances befitting even the most skilled culinary artisan. The fact that Greenwood is the home of the Viking Corporation, its manufacturing and distribution centers and the widely-acclaimed Viking Cooking School, has made Viking kitchens fairly common in many Greenwood homes.
Above is a view of the Front Parlor, which is seen to the left upon entering the Bridgewater Inn. Furnished in shades of green, the room's centerpiece is the fireplace and a turn-of-the century styled wooden mantle with intricate bead work trim and a beveled mirror.
Formerly the house's solarium, the room pictured above is located at the very back of the first floor and is furnished with inviting upholstered sofas and chairs. With beautiful stained glass windows throughout, the room is used as an informal living room for guests.
I snapped this photo just after we completed our breakfast in the grand dining room. When we awoke, the table was already set for two with Havilland china. This room, too, contains gorgeous stained glass windows in shades of yellow and gold that allowed the early morning light to enter the room ever so gently.
More stained glass windows! These were in the guest suite just around the corner from ours. So beautiful.
Our guest suite featured a king size bed. Like all of the other rooms in the house, it also had a fireplace with an antique mantle. Two of the bedrooms upstairs, including this one, had direct access to the upstairs gallery (see below.)
With a wooden swing boasting cup holders, the upstairs porch/gallery at the Bridgewater Inn was a perfect stop for an evening rest or morning coffee or tea, while watching the river just across the street. A soft wind was always blowing through the many large trees nearby. I could only wish we had been there a little earlier when the azaleas and other spring flowers were all in bloom.
A special part of our stay in Greenwood included dinner with our Bridgewater Inn Hosts, Lucy and James, who treated us to an unexpected and delicious dinner of Cornish game hen and wild rice. Since we are relatives, dinner conversation was sprinkled heavily with talk about family history, and Lucy even arranged a phone call for me to talk with Jim Branch, another family historian, who lives near Birminham, AL.Jim and I have been in touch since we returned home, and I now have a copy of a picture of Edward Tillman Branch, a son of the Edward Tillman Branch born in Virginia, along with a copy of a letter he wrote his daughter in 1902 while undergoing treatment for colon cancer in New Orleans. The picture and the letter will be the subjects of a later post about the Branch Family in Mississippi.
My only regret is that we had not visited Greenwood earlier in the year, when the azaleas and other spring plants were blooming in all their colorful glory. But there is always next year. And we are already planning a return trip to our newly-found fantastic home away from home in Greenwood.
A special thank you goes to you, Lucy and James, for being the perfect Hosts. You made our visit to the Bridgewater Inn and Greenwood a most memorable and enjoyable one.
See you next year!
Sources: Digital Photograph Collection 2009, privately owned by Janice Tracy