Premier Wedding Mississippi and Premier Wedding Mobile Bay writer, Jenny Cox Holman, interviewed Erica Speed, Special Projects Coordinator with Mississippi Heritage Trust, to find out the history of the Lowry House and their elegant vision for community events, wedding ceremonies and receptions to be celebrated and held in this charming and significant Mississippi landmark home.
Erica, can you tell our readers about your work with Mississippi Heritage Trust? Can you tell us about your instrumental work with the “10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi?
I grew up in Atlanta, Ga in an historic neighborhood in Buckhead and with a father who was not only the family historian but a history buff in general. I had volunteered with various organizations in Atlanta including Preservation Atlanta and The Georgia Trust. When I moved to Jackson, MS, my brother-in-law introduced me to Stella Gray Bryant Sykes who was then the Executive Director of Mississippi Heritage Trust. She mentioned that the organization was trying to establish their signature fundraiser and I jumped at the chance to help. The 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi started from this collaboration. I chaired the event 3 times and worked as a committee member or volunteer on the event and served on the Board of Directors.
My favorite job so far (and the only one I’ve actually been paid to do!) has been my current position, Special Projects Coordinator, which I started in 2014. I get to be involved in all aspects of our programming, fundraising, marketing and special events. I was hired to oversee the renovation of the Lowry House and now as we have completed the project, I am also responsible for overseeing its use, upkeep and event rentals.
What do you like most about what you do?
I love helping to preserve a sense of place and making that place either viable or known to others. The story that each historic
property or community tells is priceless and many times the story is told without words. This is what makes preserving our past in the built environment so important. A building or main street can tell a tale just as well as letters on a page.
Would you mind telling us about the historical significance of the Lowry House?
The Lowry House was built in the 1850s on Fortification Street and withstood the Civil War in that location. The Greek Revival style one-story structure was sold to former Governor Robert Lowry in 1890.
In 1908, the house was purchased by the Hull family and in 1914 was moved to 1053 North Congress Street when that street was extended northward. F.B. Hull was a respected builder and architect with projects throughout MS. His son Emmett J. Hull (architect) and daughter-in-law Marie Hull (renowned artist) add to the Lowry House’s historic significance. In 2005, Baptist Hospital was expanding its parking facilities and the house was slated to be torn down. At that point, it had been through many different owners and had fallen on disrepair. Luckily, it was nominated to our 2005 10 Most Endangered List and today is a testament to what can be accomplished in preservation. Our organization, Mississippi Heritage Trust and Baptist Hospital worked in partnership to save the house once its historic significance was revealed. It took 10 years start to finish!
Wedding ceremonies and receptions have evolved to now taking place in locations in addition to churches/synagogues to venues where couples have a personal interest in the architectural style, historical significance and location of the reception/ceremony venue. What vision do you and your staff have for hosting weddings, receptions, bridal luncheons or bridal portraits at the Lowry House?
We hope that the historic significance and the historic nature of the architecture will inspire beautiful events. The house lends itself to a refined, simple elegance but in a comfortable way.
Do you have a preferred event design and event rental service that you would recommend your clients to use when booking the Lowry House?
We feel that any style will work in the house – rustic to Victorian to modern to traditional. Our partner is Eventful and Erik Kegler, the premier wedding consultants and rental company in Mississippi. I have worked with Erik and Eventful on so many other projects over the years and one thing I can guarantee is that they will help you and your event planner put on a spectacular, personalized event. We couldn’t trust a Mississippi Landmark home with anyone else!
What makes the Lowry House stand out as a unique and unforgettable venue to host an event?
The age and history of the house combined with the architectural details make a very special venue. It feels like someone’s home. The natural light is particularly stunning streaming through the floor to ceiling front porch windows. Additionally, my background as an event planner, interior designer and floral enthusiast will always be available. I love to discuss dreams and ideas for the perfect party.
What type of events do you host in addition to weddings and receptions?
We have had community groups; antique clubs; fundraisers; book clubs; board meetings; birthday dinners and cocktail parties.
How far in advance do you need a couple to book to host a wedding, reception or luncheon for the Lowry House?
No set time – just call us and check the date!
Can you tell us how to reach the Lowry House through social media? What is the best email address for those to use who are interested in booking the Lowry House?
We are working on the Lowry House Facebook page. MHT (Mississippi Heritage Trust) has a Facebook page and website www.mississippiheritage.com. You can reach us through email at: email@example.com or Erica@mississippiheritage.com or on our website, www.lowryhousejackson.com
Do you have any additional information or advice that you would like to add?
I was told to make sure you take a moment throughout your big day to look around and really take it all in. It’s very difficult but assign someone that job – to remind you to see it all and appreciate those who are gathered around you. Also, in planning, pick 5 things or less that you really must have and then let the rest go if necessary or at least be ready to be flexible.
Would you like to know more about hosting your wedding ceremony or reception at the Lowry House? Visit their website, www.lowryhousejackson.com or email Erica Speed at Erica@mississippiheritage.com to help make your dreams of an elegant and charming wedding at the Lowry House come true!