Past destroyed as tornado takes down Lochinvar
Owner unsure about
status of antebellum
home built in 1836.
By Eileen Bailey
PONTOTOC - Forrest Tutor worked alongside neighbors and friends Monday, combing through the debris of his historic antebellum home hoping to find keepsakes and tangible family memories.
Tutor, his wife, Janis Burns Tutor, and 16-year-old son Travis were at Lochinvar, located just off Mississippi Highway 15, when a tornado tore a 23.7-mile track through the county. A second son, Gordon, was spending the night with a friend in Tupelo.
The front of the home and the roof, which included an eight-sided observatory, were ripped from the home. After the tornado struck, Tutor and his wife rushed from their damaged bedroom to the second floor where their son was trapped.
The door to the bedroom was jammed but Tutor said his son was able to call 911 for help. Tutor said he finally worked away enough debris so his son could squeeze through.
The three, leaving only with the clothes they wore, started down the driveway, their progress halted along the way by countless downed trees.
Tutor said they stayed in their car, which suffered two flat tires, until neighbor, Charles Harrison, came to check on them.
The three spent the night with Harrison but returned Monday morning to survey the damage.
"It was absolutely mindboggling," he said. "We didn't have any idea how bad it truly was."
One of Tutor's missions during the cleanup is to preserve the boxwoods that were planted when the home was built 165 years ago. One thing he won't be able to save was the massive boddock tree behind the home.
The boddock tree, or bois d'arc, was the state's largest specimen reaching 19 feet around. "It was the state champion," he said. And it was the reason for the annual Boddock Festival in Pontotoc, he said.
Lochinvar was built in 1836 by wealthy planter Robert Gordon. Tutor, a retired neurosurgeon who purchased the home about 35 years ago, said the home was "just about 100 percent original" and contain many of the original pieces of furniture and woodworking.
Before the tornado the large 6,000-square-foot home featured three floors, including four bedrooms. A free-standing staircase spiraled from the massive foyer.
Bricks that supported the home were made on site and Pontotoc Ridge lumber provided the hand-hewn solid heart of pine. Four Doric columns that formed Lochinvar's imposing facade were shipped from Scotland and shipped by oxen overland.
Lochinvar, named from "Young Lochinvar" in the ballad Marmion by Sir Walter Scott, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was used as a temporary hospital during the Civil War, and a makeshift prison in the basement housed Union soldiers captured in a skirmish on the grounds.
Tutor said he is unsure what the future holds for his historic home.