Thursday, July 10, 2014
Walter Place and contents for sale
By SUE WATSON
One of Mississippi’s most prominent estates is up for sale. The owner, Jorja Lynn, is severing her connections to Walter Place, built in 1859, and to most of the furnishings and valuables collected over half a lifetime.
“I’m selling almost everything in this house and on the grounds. Everything,” she said.
Featherston and Polk Place and the gardens are also included in the sale, she said.
Lynn said since her late husband Mike Lynn died, her daughter and grandchildren living at Featherston are moving back to California. She is moving to Oxford to be with her family.
“I get lonely here by myself,” she said.
The Lynns purchased the house in May 1983 and used it to help showcase Holly Springs and to entertain, she said.
“We’ve had governors and senators and national organizations and bridal showers, teas and luncheons,” Lynn said. “We’ve been open for the Pilgrimages and Christmas Tours.”
Lynn said it is time to move on and to let go of most of her antiques and the property in Holly Springs.
“It’s time,” she said. “I will have no family here, and I would like to start over. I’m excited about it. It is an adventure.”
Dwight Stevens, of Stevens Auction Company in Aberdeen, is handling the auction of antiques, set for this weekend, July 11-12. Walter Place will be open for tour July 10 – those interested in visiting the house once more or interested in selecting items to bid on, may come through.
Lynn said the tipping point in her decision to move on was her children leaving.
“Lucia and the girls have loved the park,” she said. “It has box turtles all over the property. All the children loved it but do not live here now and do not intend to come home.”
Lynn said she is finding things at Walter Place she did not know she had. Unpacking her mother’s house on South Center Street was a chore, she said. Lois and Ira Shipp moved to Oxford following Ms. Lois’ stroke last year.
“My daughter said, ‘I do not want to do this for you,’ ” Lynn said (after her daughter saw the job it was for Lois Swaney Shipp’s children to help her disperse her belongings of a lifetime).
Lynn has good memories of growing up in Holly Springs with her first cousin, Donna Beck Stark, who she said was “as close to a sister as can be.”
“When she dropped dead in November, it made me realize I’m being held back,” Lynn said.
Crye-Leike is exclusively handling the sale of the property – 15 acres, the gardens and three houses.
“I’m sure some young woman will want the property,” Lynn said. “I was 33 when I made Pilgrimage dresses and had large dinners – a wonderful experience.”
Walter Place was Lynn’s dream house. The Lynns decided not to move back to Minnesota but to embark on “the dream of a lifetime.”
It is time to start over, she said. Lucia, her daughter, returned to Holly Springs with husband Mark Acetelli and the Lynns’ grandchild a year and a half before Mike Lynn passed away. Lucia wanted to spend more moments with her dad.
Lynn loved and enjoyed his children and grandchildren and built a special playground and treehouse for the family, she said.
July 12 is a special day for Jorja Lynn. It was their wedding day, 46 years ago, when the couple married.
“So, I felt like I was getting a message from my husband – ‘it’s time to move on,’ ” she said.
Mike Lynn was terminally ill in May 2011 when their daughter returned to spend time with her father, Jorja said.
“He had an opportunity to enjoy his granddaughter," she said. “Their interest (the Acetellis) was only to come here and then leave.”
Her son-in-law, Mark Acetelli, is an artist and wants to go back to California to keep his work alive in the thriving city of Los Angeles.
“He’s got opportunity out there and people appreciate his art,” Lynn said.
She said she made the decision to move on while in the park one day.
She said utility bills have gotten outrageous over the past few years, another reason for her to move on.
“It was like lightning balls going off,” Lynn said. “I realized when Lucia and the girls left, I would truly be alone. I have no regrets. I hope everybody in Holly Springs comes and looks at the house and buys a piece of Walter Place. I think it will be fun for people.”
She said the auction will be like one big carnival. There will be a big tent set up outside Walter Place, concessions and porta potties.
Lynn said the auction can be accessed in various ways, on the Internet, over the telephone or in person.
She concluded that all she did was perpetuate the history of Walter Place.
“I lived the dream I had when I was young,” she said.
Lynn continues to operate the “Oxford University Club” in Oxford, a business built by Mike Lynn when the family moved back home from Minnesota.
Those who want to purchase small mementos should come over Friday afternoon, Lynn said. The lawn furniture will be auctioned Saturday. She cautioned about parking.
“Parking is impossible,” she said. “Walk from downtown, walk from the cemetery, walk in because there will be no parking on the grounds.”
Parking along Chulahoma Avenue in front of Walter Place will not be available. Neither will there be space near Johnson Park.
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