Property At 849 East Scenic Drive, Pass Christian, Mississippi, Belle B’Anne Also Known As Alva Villa

This property was purchased by Dr. Harry A. Danielson and wife, Beverly Ann Danielson, in 1989. Soon thereafter the renovation process began and extended for three and a half years. The Danielsons occupied the property from 1991 until the present.

In the process of determining the historical significance of this estate, Dr. Danielson became intrigued with the history and did a search of the Land Records at the Harrison County Courthouse. In his search he found that there were two lots. Both of the lots were owned by J.U. Payne. The west lot was where Mr. Payne built his home called "Rosehart." On the east lot Mr. Payne built the home for Harold Payne which we now call "The Belle B' Anne." The homes were built from lumber cut from timber at the building site by Mr. Payne's salves. The building began in 1846 and was completed in 1849, J. U. Payne having the home on the west lot and residence (The Belle B' Anne) was built on the east lot deeded to Harold Payne.

As recorded in the article written by C. H. Coffin and published in the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XXXV, both pieces of property are historically related as they were built upon at the same time. On page 28, it is stated:

“It had been built by educated slaves owned by Mr. Payne, out of timber cut on his ground and thoroughly dried, in the year 1846 . . .”

As evidenced in this article, Mr. Coffin bought Rosehart, the home of J. U. Payne, in 1892, and this was before Harold Payne sold his home (which is now Belle B’Anne). This is evidenced by two pieces of lathe that were recovered in the renovation of Belle B’Anne, the northern bay was added on March 11, 1893. On the top lathe was written “H. Payne,” and on the second lathe was written “March 11, 1893.” Then it was plastered over. So we know at the time Mr. Coffin purchased Mr. J. U. Payne’s home, which was called Rosehart, that Mr. H. Payne still owned this property. The property was deeded in 1849 to J. U. Payne and Harold Payne, individually.

The particular significance of this property is in the fact that J. U. Payne, who owned both parcels and who undoubtedly built his home and the home for Harold Payne at the same time, had as his best friend, Mr. Jefferson Davis. As noted in the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XXXV, page 128:

“Prior to the war Mr. Payne was a strong Union man. His most intimate and valued personal friend was Jefferson Davis. They disagreed as to secession. Mr. Payne at that time owned many sugar plantations in Louisiana and cotton plantations in Mississippi. He also had offices and warehouses in New Orleans, and was the largest exporter of cotton and sugar and the greatest creator of foreign exchange. He owned 300 or 400 slaves, who were all cared for, contented and happy. He had a large capital invested in business, and hundreds of planters were indebted to him for the supply of corn, bacon and household articles, it being the custom to obtain these in advance from their merchants and to pay when they sold their crops of cotton and sugar. Nearly all the great planters were thus in debt. Mr. Payne himself carried a considerable debt, and also carried a very large cash balance.

“When the seven states which first formed the Confederacy at Montgomery, AL, had passed their secession ordinances and organized their succession ordinances and organized their government by electing Jefferson Davis President, they seemed for the first time to have thought about finances. There is nothing more astonishing now than to look back and see with what utter disregard of consequences and lack of plans for the future that war was entered upon by the South.  The South had no store of arms and ammunitions, except as nearly every individual was the owner of a rifle or shotgun.  They had few small factories capable of making cannons, guns or powder, and almost no clothing or shoe factories, and practically the southern states were given over to the growth of cotton. Their leaders were highly intelligent people and held the ‘free trade’ doctrines taught by Mill and others, and in forming their constitution inserted a free trade clause, thus depriving themselves of the benefit of custom revenues. They also, ‘State rights,’ and, therefore did not authorize their newly-created government to collect tax necessary for carrying on the war; and when they had created a president and cabinet, these officers found themselves without any money or any provisions for setting in motion the wheels of the new government.

“Mr. Davis telegraphed from Montgomery to Mr. J. U. Payne, at New Orleans, announcing the formation of the Government and saying: ‘your state calls upon you to do you duty and come at once to Montgomery and bring with you all the money you can raise.’ Mr. Payne had been fortifying himself, owning to the ominous outlook, and succeeded in raising and took with him to Montgomery a large sum in gold coin, which he turned over to Mr. Davis. The latter insisted that he should have government bonds for it, and there were accordingly printed at the old printing office in Montgomery 750 bonds of $1,000 each, roughly gotten up and promising ‘to pay sixty days after the declaration of peace or recognition of the Southern Confederacy.’ These bonds remained in Mr. Payne’s hands, becoming, of course, entirely worthless, and long after the war he gave to his favorite grand daughter enough of them to paper he bedroom or boudoir. What became of the rest, I do not know.  Mr. Payne’s export business was, of course, stopped at once by the Federal blockade. The planters who owed him were unable to pay.  The planters who owed him were unable to pay.  The federal troops later on seized his plantations and destroyed most of the sugar, cotton press houses, and even the fences.  His great home in New Orleans, which was crowded with works of art and vertu accumulated by years of traveling and careful selections in Europe, was seized by the federal and used as a residence by some of the officers.  Much of the silver, paintings and bric-a-brac were shipped to New England by Butler and other officers to their homes.  This is probably the origin of the story of General Butler and the spoons.  They were never recovered, and it was many years before Mr. Payne regained possession of his home in New Orleans.”

Essentially Mr. Payne is a very pivotal historical figure in the overall drama of the confederacy, and no recognition has ever been given to him that Dr. Danielson can find in his limited pursuit of this history. Dr. Danielson reports that there may well be some historical information in New Orleans that he is unaware of which could further clarify Mr. Payne’s role in and contribution to the confederacy and his life long association with Mr. Jefferson Davis.  His friendship with Mr. Davis continued until the latter’s death as noed by Mr. Coffin in the Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume XXXV. 

Mr. Payne was born in 1808 and died in 1905 at the age of 97.  In another article published in the Southern Historical Society Papers, there was a description of the preparation of Jefferson Davis’ body for the sepulcher in which a few of his friends were in attendance whereupon they were discussing the scars in Mr. Davis’ left hand, and the group queried as to whether this was a war injury (probably related to the Mexican war that Dr. Davis’ fought in) or just what caused these scars in his left hand.  His life long friend, J. U. Payne, told of an incident.  On Mr. Davis’ plantation, his corn field had been disturbed, and he was checking on this when a big bear attacked Mr. Davis. Mr. Davis’ hand was in the mouth of the bear.  Mr. Payne very coolly got his bowie knife from its scathe and killed the bear.  When one searches these papers, especially in reference to the connection between Mr. Payne and Jefferson Davis, it is eye opening and exciting to uncover these stories that very few people know about.  Hopefully some interest can be generated to pursue Mr. Payne’s background and other historical interests.  It is certain that his contribution to the Confederate cause was immense.  The amount of &750,000 in that day was a sizable amount of money and probably bankrolled the Confederacy at its onset.

This individual played an extremely important role in history, and it is not well known or publicized and probably would not have the interest generated if the Danielsons had not stumbled across this among the bits and pieces of history of their property on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  In the property at Belle B’Anne, the Danielsons have the desk of Jefferson Davis which was made by slaves and given to the nephew of Mr. Davis when he became a journalist for the Pass Christian Tarpon Beacon, the most distributed newspaper in this area in the 1800’s, and it was sometime in the early 1970’s that the last issue ran. The desk of Mr. Jefferson Davis had been in the old Tarpon Beacon building since Hurricane Camille, and the Danielsons retained ownership of this desk, cleaned it up, and it is now on display at the Belle B’Anne home. There are other historical prize collections in that home, namely: a solid carved marble bathtub from Napoleon’s estate.  One of the previous owners of this property boasted that his horses were royalty and could not drink out of a trough but could drink only out of a king’s tub.  Napoleon’s tub was used for many decades as a watering trough.  The Danielsons found out what it was and received a Certificate of Authenticity from Ms. Elaine Kolp, the heiress from whom they purchased the property.

Additionally the tub in the north wing, almost seven feet in length, was in the property and has been completely restored.  It was manufactured the year of Lincoln’s assassination, namely October of 1865.

This property is the most historically intact piece of property in the south, because all of the out buildings are still there and have been preserved.  The renovation was an extensive project, and from the outset, the Danielsons had no conception as to the amount of damage there was tot the existing property and the amount of corrective renovation that was necessary.  It took extensive work from the foundation through all the buildings.  They were able to retain the front wall and one fire place of the guest cottage, and everything else was rebuilt to its original appearance.

The property is now offered for sale, and a new proud owner would have a piece of history that is nowhere duplicated, and the Danielsons can leave the property with the extreme gratification that they have contributed enormously to the community and to historical preservation.  Dr. and Mrs. Danielson have continuously been thanked by the community for this contribution.  In the past this was the property and home that many wanted, but no one was able to undertake the renovation.  The renovation has been a reality since 1991.  The house has been opened repeatedly by the Danielsons through the years for the benefit of the community, and many out of state people have visited the property and have gone away in awe appreciating the tremendous talent of that era without the benefit of all the wood working tools now available.  There is octagonal tongue in groove tapered pillars in front of the home.  There are heart pine floors that were laid perfectly in parallel straight fashion so that all the boards line up form one room to the other.  This home remained through all the hurricanes and all of these decades, over a century and a half, and Rosehart, J. U. Payne’s home built to the west, was destroyed.  There was certainly extra endeavor in the construction of Harold Payne’s home.  There are pictures of Rosehart showing rectangular pillars in the front which are like the pillars at Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis here on the Coast.  One almost gets the impression that perhaps Harold Payne was doing everything he could to outdo J. U. Payne’s building.  There are a few homes in the Garden District of New Orleans with octagonal pillars. When the Danilesons first began the renovation, one of the staff from Tulane University from the Historical Architectural Department, came to the Danileson’s home and told Dr. Danielson that this was most unusual adding an exclusive type of character to the dwelling, as the tapered octagonal pillars were state of the art for that era.  Four of the pillars remain.  Eight of the pillars necessary for the front porch and portachere had to be reconstructed according to the pattern of the original pillars.  This was done with special tooling and by and expert in this area of wood working.  The octagonal columns taper tongue in groove takes special tooling machines, and these were eventually built by hand to conform to the same historical architectural Greek revival style.



Home ~ Historical Society ~ Property History ~ Great Room ~ Parlor ~ Gone With The Wind
Kitchen ~ Hallway-Northwest Wing ~ The Blue Room ~ The Dining Room ~ The Library ~
Napolean's Bathtub ~ Master Bedroom ~ Guest Cottage and Pool House ~
Additional Outbuilding

Copyright ©2004 The Belle B'