Transcribed by: K. Clemons CM: This is Cam McMillan. I’m here with Lynn Varner in her home on 200 S. Leflore, and we’re going to talk about a historic neighborhood. Dr. Varner, do you willingly agree to participate?
CM: Thank you. How long have you lived in Cleveland?
LV: Twenty years.
CM: Twenty years. You are not a native of Cleveland.
LV: I am not. I grew up in Memphis.
CM: But your husband is?
CM: Did he live in Cleveland growing up?
LV: Yes. He lived on Farmer St. and then moved to College St.
CM: Do you know something about the history of this house?
LV: I know a little bit. It was the Myers’ home. He bought it from a Myers, so there was only one family before us.
CM: How old is it?
LV: There are a couple of different dates, actually. We believe 1912, but we also heard 1917. Her mother’s family, but originally the Myers lived two doors down in Julia and Dana Moore’s house. And they are in the house at 206 S. Leflore. All the molding, the paint was even the same color. (Inaudible). But very similar homes (inaudible). Estelle Bedwell and her husband Cullen (words?), they moved here not too long after (words?) one street behind on Victoria. Two doors down, a little white cottage when they first married. But that was their (inaudible). I’m really not sure if (words?) before (word?) passed away or after. But she did grow up in the house, and I believe she and Cullen did live here with her mother.
CM: Do you know (words?)? Do you know if all four of them were built at the same time?
LV: I’m not sure. I had heard that (inaudible)… His wife, I think I’ve got this right. Mary Jane Myers Nichols—husband Dr. Carl Nichols. The Varners and the Nichols have been friends for four generations. Their small children now are friends with Sarah and her grandchildren. (Inaudible)
CM: And when did she build her house?
LV: Probably around 3 years after (inaudible).
CM: Were there no more Myers left?
LV: Right. Right. Or they were not living in Cleveland. Estelle moved to Leland for a little while to Birmingham to live with her sister… And then she ended up coming back to Greenville. (Inaudible)
CM: Have you all found anything in the house (inaudible)?
LV: Not really, as far as wonderful things you find in the attic or something like that. Not really. But we do have a basement, and there are some things that were in the basement when we moved in that are still there, like an old blackwash kettle and a wooden adirondack chair that is too old to get out now…Old fashioned, very old refrigerator that has the round compressor on the top. (Inaudible). I think that (inaudible)… There have been some changes. Estelle and Cullen made some changes to the house (inaudible). But there is a front porch (inaudible). And now, because we’ve both been here so long, it’s probably forty or more years ago, she (inaudible). She had to make the decision whether or not (words?) repair the front porch or add the car port. She decided to add the car port. (Inaudible). She said that her family (inaudible).
LV:She was growing up, and she realized that (inaudible)… You know when you put all that together (words?)… If all four of those houses were built (words?).
LV: Well, I know (inaudible).
CM: Why did they (inaudible)?
LV: The date (inaudible).
CM: Right. Right.
CM: And I have not gone to the courthouse and looked myself (inaudible).
CM: Have you made changes to the house?
LV: Not major. The only thing that we’ve done that’s really major is (inaudible), and looked at many different kitchen plans. We had a great person (inaudible)… seven or eight different plans for us. And we ended up going back to almost exactly the same (word?) that she had… just new cabinets and countertops (inaudible)… ya know, that kind of stuff. (Inaudible)
CM: I noticed (inaudible).
LV: It was (words?). Estelle had done a lot. I don’t know exactly (inaudible). I know there’s either a window or a door, at one time a plumber had worked on… There’s something underneath the bathroom sink (inaudible). There’s a porch (words?) that had been added. (Inaudible)… added a master bath. (Inaudible)
CM: Did you (inaudible)?
LV: Not all the time (inaudible).
CM: I know you have to come upstairs to come in from that way. Is the house kind of above ground? (Inaudible)
CM: Have you seen changes (inaudible)?
LV: Yea. As far as people (inaudible). Some of the older houses have been redone. (Inaudible).
LV: That wallpaper was here when we moved in. I don’t know if Estelle put it in at some point (inaudible).
CM: Did the house (inaudible)?
LV: (Inaudible). Basically, in town, they might have had it. (Inaudible).
CM: Most of the houses (inaudible).
LV: And I don’t know if (inaudible). And what’s unusual to me is the layout of the house. There was a (words?) kitchen side of the dining room table. (Inaudible). And there are (inaudible). They’re pretty but they get in the way. And it’s really nice to have all the clothes (inaudible). I know that Julia’s house is so similar (inaudible).
LV: She did tell us about that. (words?). But she told us that that (words?) was brought over by mules from the (word?) or over from the (words?).
LV: Uh uh.
CM: What are the questions that you may ask people (inaudible)? Did you think that you would (words?)? Are you glad that you came… Did you think you would stay when you came to Cleveland?
LV: I’ll tell you that (inaudible). My brothers—one in New York, one in New Orleans, (inaudible) from Memphis. They were very spread out. (Inaudible). It’s a small town. It’s great for family, and I love it.
CM: Did you grow up in Memphis?
LV: I did.
CM: And yet you thought a small town would be great?
LV: Oh yes. I thought it would be wonderful. (Inaudible). So I knew we would (words?) and go and do. When we first moved here, we thought… I was a buyer at that time (inaudible) and we opened a Dover equipment store. And that was a (words?). I thought I could find somebody to manage it (words?). But it was more involved than that, and I think we were ahead of our time. (Inaudible). I know that I have heard a lot of people say that Cleveland is difficult. (Inaudible). Two new couples, new blood, they attacked us. Here, sign up for this.
CM: What do you think (inaudible)?
LV: (Inaudible) Also being able to (inaudible). We could get this beautiful place to live and (inaudible) and do the things you want to do.
LV: (words?) And actually, the house was not (inaudible)… Talk to you about buying it if you ever want to sell. (Inaudible) She likes the idea of not having to put it out on the market.
CM: So nobody else looked at it?
LV: Nope. And she had… We had known their families for a long long time; and you know, that matters. (words?) their family home. (Inaudible). And when we moved in, I was pregnant (inaudible).
CM: I know the first graduates (words?) Delta State. Were they (inaudible)?
LV: Probably. (Inaudible)
LV: Well, you know Julia (word?) her first doctorate.
CM: I don’t know… (inaudible)
LV: Yes, I believe… I think there were three girls. I’m pretty sure there were.
CM: The story we heard… And I don’t know (words?) built three houses, and it was around 1940. And they built the three houses for the three daughters that they married; and the fourth house was built (inaudible).
LV: Okay. That’s quite possible. That’s quite possible. But I know… (Inaudible)
CM: Are there any special architectural (inaudible)?
LV: It’s funny, because, see, I was looking at Bryan’s old annual (inaudible) and when we first moved here (inaudible)… When we first moved here, Bill Powell said, ‘Ya’ll are still going to let me take pictures of your (yard?),’ because he said they take pictures here all the time.
CM: Do you have that annual (inaudible)?
LV: We do. (words?), but we do.
CM: Would you (words?)?
LV: (words?) Oh, okay. I think she must have done that (inaudible). We love the house. (Inaudible). One thing I like… I like the water glass—the windows (inaudible).
LV: Right. (inaudible). We had some settling at first. We had the people come and put the bells underneath the house (inaudible).
CM: Well, it’s been lovely and thank you very much.
LV: Thank you. It was nice talking with you. (Inaudible)
CM: Thank you.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS MADE BY BARBARA VARNER
I’m Barbara Varner. I’m the mother of Bryan Varner, who lives at 200 S. Leflore. I have interviewed, this morning, Mary Jane Myers Nichols, who now lives in Leland, MS, and she was giving me a lot of information on the home at 200 S. Leflore. Mary Jane Nichols, one of four girls that were brought up in that home, she is the youngest. The house that house that Dr. Jackson, Judge Jackson lived in, where Julia and Dana Moore now reside, was the home on that corner there. They moved that house one house over, and now Julia and Dana Moore still reside in that residence. They moved the house and got the corner cleared for their two-story home. The home was made totally of cypress, since they had a cypress (word?) on the large plantation that they owned and still do in Washington County. The home is entirely made of cypress, and it had a front porch all the way across the front. It had a back porch all the way across the back, and it also had a sleeping porch upstairs on the west side, on the back side of the house. Mary Jane told me that between the house that they built and Delta State College, it was, there was nothing—absolutely nothing but fields. They had horses and chickens and all the livestock that a farm usually has in the backyard. She rode horses a lot. The lot that Carroll Tatum and John Tatum built, the house they built next door to 200 S. Leflore, was part of their yard. And then, next door, Julia and Dana Moore’s house is sitting on a lot that Mr. Myers gave to Judge Jackson if he would come to Cleveland to live. I think he was a friend of his from Liberty, MS. And so he gave him that house, and then Judge Jackson, I think remodeled it to more or less what it looks like now. Mary Jane told me that the house was built around 1920, judging from her age and that she was born in that house, she guesses it was built somewhere around then. Mary Jane says that her father, Mr. Myers, gave all four girls a property to build a house on. Mary Jane and Dr. Carl Nichols lived in the house directly behind 200 S. Leflore where the Arnold’s live now. It was a shotgun house that was added onto. And then I believe it was added onto a second time, maybe a third time, by the Sanders who lived there for a good while. The little white cottage a couple doors on the other side of Ms. Fleming, was Estelle and Cullen’s first little honeymoon cottage before they eventually moved into the big house with Mrs. Myers and lived there until Cullen died. And then, Estelle moved away from her family home. Bryan and Lynn Varner became the owners of the home at 200 S. Leflore. Friend, Estelle Bedwell decided to move to Leland with her sister; and her husband was a doctor down there. They had been the owners of that house for about 20 years.