Benchmark Design, PC

My interest in history & architecture was boosted as a teenager after I was introduced to this unique place. A few years later, the history of this antebellum house and property became the basis of my thesis project in college. Even today, our firm’s focus remains with the historical/traditional/classical architecture of the nostalgic small-town, down-town, home-town … new projects that when completed look as though it was there all along!

In 1836, William S. Cox left North Carolina with his family and purchased several thousand acres along the Tombigbee River north of Columbus, Mississippi. By circa 1849 his assets had become substantial, and the family was able to move from their initial log cabin into this grand Greek Revival home designed by the locally prominent architect James Lull. Constructed amidst the wilderness of the Choctaw & Cherokee Indian frontier, the architect created a masterpiece. An academic study of classical architecture, geometry, scale and proportion which propelled (130 years later) my own education and subsequent career in architecture.

In 1980, my parents Henry & Nettie Ward purchased the elderly place with ten unkempt acres and began an extensive restoration/renovation that lasted for the next 15 years under their care. This is an image I took (at 17 years old) as my mother and grandmother discussed the project before us. Two amazing women and an incredible house that forever influenced and impacted my life and professional passions! And my daughter Alexa was married on its hallowed grounds in 2019!

Read my blog:The Place We Call Rivendell

D. Tracy Ward, Architect


“. . . a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or storytelling or singing or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. . . merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear and sadness.”

(J.R.R. Tolkien – Lord of the Rings)


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