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Historic Jackson inn property seeing big changes

JACKSON — What is now the Fairview Inn Bed & Breakfast began as the home of C.C. Warren, who had moved south

from Illinois to seek his fortune.

Warren employed a prominent architect from Chicago to design the house, and though much has happened to the home

since its foundation was set in 1908, the complete set of plans are still in existence.

After Warren found his fortune in the lumber business, he moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1912 because of the

economic collapse of the industry in Mississippi.

Felix Gunter, a Jackson banker and insurance executive, was the second owner of the house.

In 1921 Gunter sold the home to Mr. and Mrs. W.E. Guild, then an executive with Finkbine Lumber Company in D’Lo.

The Gunters sold the home to Mr. and Mrs. D.C. Simmons in 1930. Simmons was a banker and a merchant who worked

with Deposit Guaranty National Bank. In 1964, D.C. Simmons died, leaving the home to his wife, Annie Belle. She resided

in the home until her death in 1972.

But Bill Simmons, the son of D.C. and Annie Belle, still had plans for the place. He purchased the home from Annie Belle’s

estate while presiding over the Council School Foundation as president.

The bed and breakfast concept still had not arrived in Mississippi, but in 1975 Natchez became somewhat of a tourist

attraction and, little by little, a few bed and breakfasts started to open up.

Simmons worked for the Council School until he retired in the mid-1980s. It was then that he and his wife, Carol, began to

edge into the bed and breakfast business by entertaining visitors and hosting wedding receptions.

After meeting Californians Ron and Lani Riches, owners of Monmouth Plantation in Natchez, Bill Simmons’ decided to give

the bed and breakfast business a go.

The garden room was built, along with a commercial kitchen for wedding receptions and the Simmons were soon open for


And although it seemed big enough for guests at the time, Bill Simmons finally decided it was again time to add on. There

were several factors that led to the decision. One was the major exhibitions, such as the Palaces of St. Petersburg and the

Splendors of Versailles in Jackson. And with the coming Spanish exhibition in 2001, said Bill Simmons, “it just seemed like

a good time to add on.”

The bed and breakfast was also short on room space in comparison to public space. “We felt we’d have a better balance

with more guest rooms,” Bill Simmons said.

And finally, he added, “We would like to become a more full-service inn with more guest rooms.”

The Fairview currently has eight guestrooms, but with the addition will have 18.

After the Simmons received financing for the Fairview through BankPlus, the $1-million addition started to become a reality.

The architect and owners met with the Historic Preservation Society about the addition, and after its approval and two

months of site work, the slab was finished and the framing crew began its work.

Copeland & Johns was selected to work on the project after the bid process.

“Our challenges are to communicate frequently and not let anything go too long without a discussion,” said Mike McBride,

project manager for Copeland & Johns. “We’re always trying to get materials delivered on time. Sometimes we have to

help the owner make decisions.”

When tearing into the existing building in order to make way for the walkway that would connect the two buildings, the

project team found a surprise.

“We found the framing of an old porch,” McBride said.

Because some of the porch had deteriorated, an additional beam had to be placed in order to distribute the weight of the

walkway to the new building instead of to the brick. It was an effort, but McBride and his crew got the job done.

“Something in renovation is always a surprise,” McBride said. “You can make your very best guess, but you don’t know

what you have until you tear open the old construction.”

David Dillard, AIA, is the architect for the job, and said the biggest challenge for him was figuring out how to incorporate

the new building into the site without disturbing the circa-1920 garden. Another challenge was adding a modern heating and

cooling system to the new addition while maintaining the historic ambiance.

“I was thrilled to be working on it. I’ve been involved with the Belhaven Historic District since its inception. It’s a great thing

to have a project in the Historic District.

Despite all the challenges involved, all the parties have enjoyed seeing the project come to fruition.

“I’m very interested in and have a lot of experience in working with older buildings,” McBride said. “Our company thinks

it’s a privilege to do a project in Belhaven.”

When it is all said and done, the original main house of 8,000 square feet, carriage house of 3,000 square feet and garden

room of 3,000 square feet will have an additional 8,000 square feet in the new addition.

And guests’ wishes of Jacuzzis, fireplaces and sun porches will come true; all the new rooms will have Jacuzzis with

double-vanities and separate walk-in showers, four rooms will have sun porches and six will have fireplaces.

“It’s always interesting for met to contemplate what guests have put at the top of their lists,” Bill Simmons said.

The Simmons are members of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International and the Fairview Inn Bed and

Breakfast is listed in the Select Registry, an organization of approximately 325 inns in the U.S. and Canada.

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.


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