Charnley-Norwood House

While on vacation in the South, Chicago based architect Louis H. Sullivan (known as the “Father of the Skyscraper”) took a special liking to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. So much so that he decided to invest in waterfront property and immediately designed two neighboring homes there–one for himself and one for his friends, James & Helen Charnley who were also enamored with the idea of a coastal refuge from Chicago’s urban environment and harsh winters. The Charnleys referred to the property as “Charmleigh” meaning Charming Meadow. Although better known for his high-rise urban buildings, Sullivan designed these rural vacation retreats with a long, low orientation that blended into the natural surroundings of the coastal plain which was instrumental in inspiring the career trajectory of his young draftsman Frank Lloyd Wright. The home was later sold to the Fred & Elizabeth Norwood in the summer of 1896.

During the Norwood’s first wintertime visit to the house, tragedy struck in the early morning hours of February 18, 1897, when a fire destroyed the Norwood’s house, but no time was wasted in rebuilding. They followed the original design of the house almost identically, with important improvements under Sullivan’s oversight. The Norwood’s named the property “Bon Silene” meaning Good Salt Water or Good Salt Marsh and would later plant roses of the same name in their garden.

The property sustained major damage when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. In 2011, the property was purchased by the State of Mississippi and restoration of the house was completed in 2013.

MORE INFORMATION

Hours of Operation: Reservation by appointment.  Closed Sundays & Holidays. 

Admission: Free!

 

VISIT US BY APPOINTMENT 

509 East Beach Drive, Ocean Springs, MS 
email: heritage@dmr.ms.gov
call: 228-234-7298

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