A custom-built home in the country transports its owners and their guests to the Southwest.
Written by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem
A casual drive down County Road 300, on the cusp of Lee County near Pontotoc, offers views of relatively flat, tree-rich land with an occasional hill and homeplace scattered about. A sign announces your arrival at the Double 00 Ranch (Double Aught), named after a branding iron to which the late owner, Sam Hubbert, took a shine. He bought nearly 1,000 acres between 1975 and 1979 to raise beef cattle. In times past, the cattle at the Double 00 numbered up to 2,500 head. These days, there are about 750.
In 1970, Sam Hubbert and his father, Henry, both from Winfield, Alabama, purchased the sale barn behind Fairpark on Elizabeth Street; Stockyard Inc. operated until 2016 and was torn down in 2019.
Within view of the Double 00 sign stands a house designed so that one might momentarily forget they’re in Mississippi or the South and assume they’ve been transported west — far west. The house can be described as Southwestern hacienda-style or Spanish mission-style, similar in ways to that of TV mogul and entrepreneur, Ted Turner, whose house in New Mexico was featured in the June 2008 issue of Architectural Digest. Turner’s home offered a spark of inspiration for the home built by the Hubberts — Sam and his wife of 41 years, Cathy Hubbert. The home, however, almost did not become a reality.
Cathy Hubbert was quite content living in Carr Acres in Verona. She remembers the phone call from her husband one day summoning her out to the Double 00 Ranch.
“I drove out and pulled up at the end of the pasture,” she said. “And Sam pointed out in the field and said, ‘Can’t you just envision a log cabin right there?’ I got back in the car and left.”
The Hubberts’ daughter Jennifer was the one who reasoned with her mom, reminding her how much Cathy Hubbert’s country-loving husband had done for her, and she relented, agreeing to discuss what a new home in the country might look like.
“Our ideas were definitely different,” Cathy said. “We looked for a time at log cabins. Sam had a condo for a time in Red River near Taos. We both loved New Mexico, but I told him I was not moving there — our children (daughter Jennifer, son Jordan and six grandchildren) are here in Mississippi. So we brought New Mexico here.”
From the day in 2008 when dirt was actually turned to start construction to the completion of the house two years later, much collaboration went into every stage of the process. Cathy Hubbert is generous with her gratitude. Clay Bowen of Tupelo was contractor/builder; Michael Nestor of Santa Fe, New Mexico, helped with design.
“I was online looking at different things and his name popped up,” she said. “I also had lots of design help from friends at Stagg’s, and there is absolutely no way this house would have ever happened without Clay. He is amazing.”
Cathy worked at Stagg’s as a freelance interior designer for a decade, so she had her own ideas of what she hoped to incorporate into her new home.
When visitors enter the gate, the long drive to the house takes a minute. If a first glance at the stucco house does not shout “Southwestern style,” the roof certainly is a dead giveaway with its barrel roof (or Spanish) tile. The semi-cylindrical clay-roofing tile is laid in an interlocking pattern.
“All of the workers who did the roof tiles were from South America,” Cathy said. “They did it in a week; it was like watching them put together a puzzle.”
Landscaped beds and stonework walkways abound outside the house and a front porch extends around to the side and picks up again across the back of the house. In fact, there are 2,000 square feet just in porches. The rest of the house is about 3,600 square feet, in addition to a large garage that’s nearly 1,500 square feet. Interestingly, half of the house is in Lee County; the other half in Pontotoc County.
“My favorite parts of the house are the porches,” Cathy said. “I love to sit outside. And I do my own mowing and flower beds. The guys at Philips Garden Center have helped me so much.”
Inside the house, wood beams of different dimensions and designs are plentiful. The natural beauty of the beams is made more special because all the wood came from the farm and the beams were hand-hewn and dried at a mill in Winfield, Alabama. In the two guest bedrooms and baths, the beams replicate those found in the oldest hotel in Taos.
“Of course, out there, the beams hold the ceiling up, but here it’s just halved round logs — they are just for design,” Cathy said.
Throughout the house, dark, heavy wooden doors from Mexico, some with extensive carving, were brought to Mississippi. Each room in the house is decorated with the pleasing placement of collectibles from trips the Hubberts have taken out West. An extensive and diverse art collection goes along with the theme of the house, including a painting that was part of an art collection that belonged to the late actor Joel McCrea.
“I decorated the house myself,” Cathy said. “I knew where everything was going to go before the house was finished, and it took a year after moving in for me to finish decorating.”
After Sam Hubbert died in August 2018, his wife, after a time, changed only a few things. After a trip out West, Cathy bought a large painting of a trail drive and had it shipped home. She knew where it would go.
“The bear had to go,” she said. “Up high on a living room wall, we had a huge bear head and skin from a bear Sam had killed on a hunting trip. I hated that thing.”
She also turned her husband’s closet into a small office for herself. When working there, keepsakes that belonged to her late father and Sam surround her.
“After we kind of got on the same page about what we wanted this house to be, Sam was content with that,” Cathy said. “It was a venture of love.”