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Vol. 16, No. 4: Winter 2010

Home of the Double-Headed Eagle: The Visionary Vernacular Architecture of Reverend H.D. Dennis and Margaret Dennis

by Ali Colleen Neff

“In the deep peripheral ravines settled by the descendants of local sharecroppers, The Home of the Double-Headed Eagle shoots up from a long row of kudzu-covered shotgun shacks and cracked pavement to entangle passerby.”

The Gibraltar of the Confederacy erupts gloriously from the southern tip-edge of the flat Delta flood plain to guard the lush Mississippi cotton empire with its jagged bluffs. This remarkable landscape, according to the 1948 WPA guidebook, materializes with a “wild, rugged contour that has the appearance of distant castles, and . . . the air of a city in perpetual siege.” Nearly twenty thousand white tombstones memorialize the bloody and decisive Battle of Vicksburg that ended on the Fourth of July, 1863. Stretched along its highest contours are lush promontories that have provided escape from ravaging floods and overshadowed a century’s deployment of Delta cotton by riverboat. Above all, Vicksburg is a city that emerges.

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