FROM THE ARCHIVES: George Reeve’s House

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By Nancy BellVicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation.

This Queen Anne-style house was built at 1709 Cherry Street around 1891 by George Pynchon and Mamie Bowen Reeve. Reeve was vice-president and secretary of the George S. Irving Company, Cotton Factors and Grocery Wholesalers/Retailers, in 1890. In 1893 he established a new cotton factors company with HT Lamkin-Lamkin, Reeve and Company, which only lasted a year, and then Reeve continued on his own. He increased his holdings in the cotton market by buying out the Vicksburg Cotton Company in 1895 and buying a cotton plantation in 1902.

He constructed a new building for his office and warehouse at the southeast corner of Mulberry and South streets in 1898, which was featured in photographs in 1901 making news in the Vicksburg Herald. “Mr. George P. Reeve has in his possession some fine photographic work by the Vicksburg Art Studio of Mr. AL Blanks. These are views of the interior of his well-known and handsome new cotton office, which are really very artistic and correct, showing advances in interior photography. One of these views depicts the business manager with his staff at work picking cotton which is piled up around them in every direction. There are other equally good scenes, and these Mr. Reeve will have framed and prepared to send to the various brokers he deals with.It is the most effective way to show those who are at distance what a first-class cotton buyer’s establishment looks like. The office was again the subject of an article in 1902 entitled “A Dainty Cotton Office.” “Mr. George P. Reeve and his team are delighted with their newly decorated and much embellished “cozy corner” office, which was recently retouched by Creed Davis in his best style. Mr. Reeve himself is a man of artistic tastes and instincts, and likes to have things about him that suit his ideas, and in offices changing to suit that taste he has been eminently successful.

In addition to his cotton business, Reeve was vice-president of the Belmont Club, a founding member of the People’s Compress and Warehouse Company, and a member of the board of directors of the Cotton Exchange. In March 1906, he was part of the group that organized the Long Lake Fishing and Hunting Club and served as its first president. An article in the Vicksburg Evening Shift reports that “the Club leased several hundred acres of land and ordered the construction of ten fishing boats”. By August of the same year, the club had 100 members.

In 1908 the Reeve asked the Council of Mayor and Aldermen to pave Cherry Street and the petition was approved. Reeve went to Chicago to study street paving to help decide what material to use for paving. The Job reported that the owners dictated that they wanted “a nice sidewalk and a quiet sidewalk if that’s possible in this climate”. Reeve studied granitoid, asphalt, and bithulithic street paving and decided that granitoid was the best solution until he went to Boston where the city was taking its asphalt and laying creosote wood blocks. The debate continued for over a year and then the discussion turned to how the street should be classified.

In 1910, the Reeves moved to New Orleans to establish a cotton business there. George was hit by a car in January 1914 and seriously injured. The car was being driven by a driver, so Reeve sued the passenger in the car, but lost in court. Ironically, the driver was later killed in a car accident. Reeve was taken home to Cherry Street to recover with the presence of Vicksburg doctors and the loving care of his wife, Mamie. George Reeve died on August 25, 1919 from his injuries. The obituary in the Vicksburg Herald reported that “he was a native of New Orleans, son of the late Joseph Mason Reeve, who came to New Orleans from London, England, and was known as the ‘Salt King.’ He is related to the elder Mr. Reeve whom he imported salt from Turkey, and he was well known for his philanthropy and liberal views on all matters. George and Mamie had two sons, George P. Reeve, Jr. and Henry W. Reeve.

In 1922, Mamie built the Lorraine Apartments that still exist today at the northwest corner of Adams and Clay streets, in part to “help solve the housing problem in the city”, according to the Vicksburg Herald. The family continued to live in the Cherry Street house and later converted part of it into apartments. It was demolished in 1970 and a car park now occupies its location.

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