For Tom Pharr, developing and designing new homes and restoring and reinventing historic properties are not opposing forces. They are part of a vision he has for a downtown Vicksburg neighborhood that is quickly becoming a reality.
Pharr, who is well known for his stellar designs sought after by the world, has focused his attention and resources in recent years not only on protecting and enhancing the values of the properties he owns in the Springfield neighborhood, nestled along portions of Cherry Street, First East Street and Adams Street, but also preserving a historic dream spelled out over two centuries ago.
“Two centuries ago, when Newitt Vick created this neighborhood, he called it Springfield, a neighborhood for the professional working class. And what he meant by that was that he wanted a place in town that was convenient for traders, people who worked downtown in his newly developed town, ”said Pharr, from Vicksburg. and owner of the historic Anchuca Bed and Breakfast. “So what excites me is that our younger generation wants to be here and sees a bright future and a great place to invest your money in historic Vicksburg. “
Over two decades ago, when Pharr returned to Vicksburg and invested in restoring Anchuca, he saw a surrounding neighborhood that needed help and investment, but the value was not there. Those who wanted to invest money in old houses or new constructions could not find the necessary financial support to do so.
Home refurbishment costs far exceeded what the finished product would value, resulting in bad investments.
In recent years, Pharr has changed that. First, with the relocation and restoration of his home, Springfield, located at 800 Cherry Street, and then with the construction of two new cabins a few feet away, Pharr put his money where his vision is.
Examining how other historic cities such as New Orleans and Charleston have preserved their history and thrived, Pharr learned that it required a historic neighborhood – like Springfield – to need to invest in surrounding areas.
“To do that, you take those vacant lots and design things that fit the fabric of the neighborhood and feel appropriate, that could be completely modern for today’s lifestyle. You are creating a product that is desirable and that people can get the bank loan they need to be part of the neighborhood, ”he said. “By doing this, I realized that we could reinforce the values surrounding these most historic properties and for the future economic values for the whole community – making our community more desirable and valuable.”
These new homes along Cherry Street were sold as owner’s finance, as the build quality, finishes and amenities did not have suitable comparables in the area. Now they have served as a catalyst for new projects.
“It’s about preserving our history and, in doing so, making a huge contribution to our economic stability. And the future growth of the neighborhood depends on this investment. Continue to make it a very pleasant place to live, ”he said. “The big difference between neighborhoods and subdivisions is that subdivisions come and go, but neighborhoods have been around for centuries – or at least they can be profitable if you reinvest in them to keep them valuable and desirable. “
Recently, Pharr completed three new homes on First East Street, Block 1100, which feature gourmet kitchens, beautifully designed master bathrooms, fitted wardrobes and high ceilings.
These homes were all sold with the option of financing from local banks thanks to the increase in property values since the construction of the Cherry Street cottages.
And there is more to come. Pharr continues to search for lands that could be revitalized and reinvented. His goal is to examine other areas in and around Springfield that might attract residents and investors, with the idea of continuing and preserving the vision he shared with Vick centuries ago.