Building Description Riverview Mansion - Burris House - McLaran-Humphreys House, Columbus Mississippi

Located at 514 Second Street in Columbus, Mississippi, is Riverview, a massive two-and-one-half-story Greek Revival mansion built between 1847 and 1851. It is constructed of brick with an all-stretcher veneer on all sides, and is covered by a low pitched hipped roof that retains its original slate. Its highly unified design is derived from a strict adherence to the principles of symmetry. Brick pilasters, trimmed with marble capitals and bases, divide each elevation into five equal bays and support a full, well-proportioned entablature with a dentiled and modillioned cornice. Identical porticoes occupying the center three bays of both the front (east) and rear elevations employ the popular Columbus idiom of paneled square columns of stuccoed brick. The porticoes are further enriched by marble flooring, double-faced cast-iron railings, and original cast-iron lions which rest on pedestals flanking the steps. The entrance is contained in a frontispiece, repeated on the balcony level and twice again on the rear elevation, designed with narrow pilasters, eight-paneled door, sidelights, and transom. Flanking the frontispiece are six-over-six double-hung windows with uncarved marble lintels and sills. A square, pilastered belvedere whose windows are glazed with red, cobalt, green, and amethyst glass completes the exterior composition of Riverview.

The plan of Riverview provides for a broad center stair hall and a small service hall behind, separating double parlors and a kitchen on the north from bed and sitting rooms opposite. Originally used as the dining room, the two south sitting rooms are divided by a paneled wood partition that can be raised into a space between second-floor walls. Thus, the former family dining room could be expanded into a commodious banquet room. Above the parlors, on the second floor, is a large, formal ballroom, divided by sliding doors and fitted with false doors and casings to balance the room's three entrances. The remaining space on the second floor, which repeats the plan of the first, is used for bed and bathrooms.

In marked contrast to the sober monumentality of the exterior, the interior decoration of Riverview is extraordinarily rich. The double parlors are treated with pilasters supporting full, heavily ornamented plaster entablatures. Ceiling coffers, outlined in bead and reel and enriched talon moldings, are a very rare and sophisticated feature of the Riverview parlors. The center coffer is enlarged to accommodate a large plaster centerpiece and four unusual winged cherubs in low relief. The pair of marble mantels are designed with scrolled brackets, carved pilaster caps, and plain friezes and are direct copies of figure 1, plate 46, of Lafever's Beauties of Modern Architecture (1835). Similarly, other mantels at Riverview were taken from figure 4 of the same plate, which illustrates a battered-and-eared "architrave piece" and shelf. Although not as elaborate as the plasterwork, the fine woodwork is beautifully proportioned and skillfully joined. Battered-and-eared window and door architraves support molded cornices. The principal stair, which rises uninterrupted to the belvedere, has turned balusters, scrolled stepends, and an unusual, scroll-like newel. Gilt cornices, pier mirrors, mantel mirrors, and chandeliers are among the original fixtures of the Riverview interior which remain intact. Although the house itself was divided into apartments for a time, there have been no alterations of the major architectural spaces. Kitchens and baths were installed into auxiliary pantry and dressing room spaces.