RESTORING MONT HELENA


Over the years, Mont Helena fell into disrepair. Vandals removed windows and doors, mantels were relocated to other family homes, columns rotted and porches worsened. The widow’s walk collapsed leaving the interior of the house exposed. By 1993, the once elegant mansion was a seemingly irretrievable shell. Drick Rodgers, the current owner and a distant relative of Helen Johnstone Harris, decided to tackle the task of restoring the home to its former grandeur. The foundation was shored up, rotten boards, windows and doors were replaced. The port cochere was rebuilt and a portico was added. Rodgers was able to recover a severely deteriorated column that had once graced the house. The column was sent to New Orleans to have a mold cast of it so columns identical to the originals could be refashioned. Notable on the first floor are the beautiful floors made from wood salvaged from all three floors of the house. The mantels in the house were designed to replicate the originals. The widow’s walk was restored and once again offered a panoramic view of the Delta. Although in 1993 great strides were made in improving the house structurally, restoration was far from complete. In 2009, the Friends of Mont Helena was established and the play, Mont Helena: A Dream Revisited was created. Mr. Rodgers once again began restoration work on Mont Helena in preparation for the use of the house in the group’s upcoming production. The exterior of the house and the interior of the first floor received a fresh coat of paint. A fully functional kitchen was established in a large area that had once housed three rooms: a kitchen, breakfast room and butler’s pantry. The second floor was restructured and central air and heating was added. Restoration of one bedroom has been accomplished while plans for future completion of the other existing bedrooms has begun. Landscaping beginning at the base of the mound extending to the upper grounds surrounding Mont Helena lend in the preservation of the beautiful home and times past.

©2013 Mont Helena: A Dream Revisited • All rights reserved. • Old Highway 61, Sharkey County, Mississippi