If Walls Could Talk

Updated: May 18

An early 1900s home near campus, refurbished a century later, features authentic details plus stately additions.

Written by Lanie Anderson

Photographed by Joe Worthem

Charley and Tricia Myers say without hesitation that their fondest memory of their home is the day their daughter was married by the house’s lap pool in December 2012. They still remember the various hues of brown, green, yellow and red from the stained-glass window set at the west end of the pool, reflected on the water’s surface as the sun set behind the bride and groom.

People passing by the house on South 5th Street in Oxford might notice the window, originally from a Scottish church built in the late 1700s.

“In the morning, the light radiates from the window and reflects back on the pool, and it is just unbelievable,” Charley said.

The stained-glass window is just one of several personal touches the Myerses added after they purchased the home in 2003. Charley and Tricia lived in Flowood at the time but traveled to Oxford a lot because their son was a wide receiver on the Ole Miss football team.

“Our son was in school up here at Ole Miss, and we would visit him and go to the football games,” Tricia said. “One day Charley said, ‘This is where I want to retire. When I get into Lafayette County, my blood pressure goes down.’”

A friend told Charley about the house, built around 1908 and located mere steps away from University Avenue and campus. Within three days, they had purchased a home in Oxford.

Franklin and Helen Moak and their children had lived in the home since 1974. Charley, a University of Mississippi alum, already knew Dr. Moak, who had served as dean of the Division of Student Personnel. The Moaks agreed to sell the house for slightly less than offered on one condition: The Myerses would honor the original home by restoring it rather than demolishing it to build a new home or condominiums.

“It just couldn’t get much better than this location,” Charley said. “The old structure was cosmetically dilapidated, but, structurally, it was sound.”

The couple soon got to work. The house needed new plumbing, wiring and insulation. Tricia was deeply invested in every step of the renovation process from 2003 until 2005 when they moved to Oxford. She drove from Flowood every week and stayed with her son from Tuesday to Thursday so she could oversee the changes.

They wanted to maintain the original aesthetic of the home’s outside appearance as much as possible. All of the windows and sliding doors are original to the home. The heart pine flooring is from the late 1800s and was made by a manufacturer in South Carolina. Wood panels salvaged from the original floor are used in the bathroom near the pool and bar. The original porch wraps around the front and one side of the house, but they did add spindles for safety.

“One thing we really enjoy about the house is the porch because so many people are walking by every morning, strolling their children, jogging or walking their dogs,” Tricia said. “We love to go out there, drink our coffee every morning, watch everybody go by and wave at them.”

Exterior additions include the New Orleans inspired lap pool and hot tub, a driveway and a carriage house, which shelters a white 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud the couple rents to people for weddings. A fully furnished apartment above the carriage house offers extra space for guests.

Inside the home, the Myerses added a master bedroom and large kitchen downstairs. Tricia admires the work of American architect A. Hays Town from Louisiana. Town utilized brick in his designs, and Tricia knew she wanted to do the same in her new kitchen to contrast with the cypress cabinets.

“I loved the brickwork for the kitchen,” Tricia said. “It’s really become popular now, but at the time (in 2003) it really wasn’t something that was used a lot in Mississippi.”

The Myerses made minor changes to the upstairs, which originally had a bedroom in each of the four corners and one bathroom in the middle. It now has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. One end of an attic space was converted into extra storage closets; beyond is a weight room, and a nook with an extra guest bed.

Antiquing has always been a fun hobby for the couple, and antiques from their large collection are featured in each room. Visitors will quickly notice a number of German, English and American clocks throughout the home. Charley has been a devotee of clocks since his childhood. Over the years, he has collected an assortment from different time periods and places.

“All of these clocks are at least 100 years old with a few exceptions, and they are all working,” Charley said. “Can you imagine if they could talk what they would say? A lot of these clocks have come from foyers in banks back in the 1800s. One sat in a garage in New Orleans for 70 years.”

If the home’s walls could talk, they would have lots of stories to tell, too. Supposedly, FBI agents set up headquarters in the basement to monitor the situation when James Meredith enrolled at UM. Helen Moak taught countless Oxford children how to play the piano in the front parlor where the Myerses’ 1929 piano sits today. Governors from around the country, including former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant have visited their home. Grammy nominee and blues artist Cedric Burnside of Holly Springs has performed poolside at parties hosted by the couple.

In the 16 years the Myerses have lived in the home, they have had over 1,000 guests. Now, Charley and Tricia are considering moving into a smaller Oxford house.

“We look back on the time we’ve lived here, and we have absolutely zero regrets,” Charley said. “This is the loveliest town. We realize what we did — took an old structure that had been built in the early 1900s and essentially dressed it up a little bit.”

They will never forget the process of renovating the home and the people they met along the way.