Auction set for Windy Hill property in Prairie

“One of a kind” is an overused expression, but when Jeff Hathorn utilized the time period to explain Windy Hill it’s truly worth noting.

For 35 yrs, Hathorn has been an auction supervisor for Focus on Auction, a enterprise that specializes in the sale of upscale properties.

“Over the a long time, I’ve seen some astounding properties all about the country,” Hathorn claimed. “Windy Hill is exclusive. It is timeless.”

On Thursday, Windy Hill will be open up for bids, with a minimum amount bid of $1.5 million expected, while Hathorn said he has previously received a qualified bid for $1.75 million. The estate of the late Nancy Imes has established a reserve bid sum that will not be disclosed to bidders.

Windy Hill is the 11,000 sq.-foot French Normandy-inspired estate of Nancy Imes, who passed absent in March 2021 at age 92. Nancy Imes was the wife of former Dispatch publisher Birney Imes II, mother of former Dispatch publisher Birney Imes III and grandmother of recent publisher Peter Imes.

The estate occupies 128 acres in the Prairie space of Lowndes County. Adjacent tracts of 184 acres and 325 acres will be presented completely to the homebuyer at $2,500 per acre.

The home, which was completed in 1998, displays the refined fashion and broad travel of its owner. Working with renowned architect Ken Tate, his spouse, interior decorator Charme Tate, and  celebrated landscape architect René Fransen, Nancy Imes developed a household in which no depth was neglected. Its lush gardens, courtyards and porches make the exterior as suitable for entertaining as the inside, something that was a priority, said Birney Imes III.

“No make any difference in which she was, Mother designed room for spouse and children,” he explained. “This residence was no exception. She was generous and gracious in how she shared it and its gardens, not only with family members, but with the group, which she welcomed inside and out. It is a huge property with expansive grounds and gardens, a wonderland, genuinely. Her most loved greeting when we came to visit was, ‘Don’t enable the cats out.’”

The cat is out, in a method of speaking, as significantly as interest in the house goes, Hathorn reported.

“We’ve experienced fascination from all more than the state and it is simple to fully grasp why,” he stated. “It took (Imes) five a long time to construct and that tells you what variety of focus to detail went into it. Almost everything is major of the line, making use of the pretty finest materials.

“We’ve been providing tours for numerous months now and the fascination stage for the assets is pretty higher.”

Down below is a piece previous Dispatch existence editor, the late Jan Swoope, wrote about the property for the summer months 2014 concern of Catfish Alley magazine.


If it is genuine that homes notify tales, and surely it is, Windy Hill is a visual website page-turner. Mounting up from wildflowers, woods and Prairie grasses on 2,000 acres of peaceful countryside southwest of Columbus, Nancy Imes’ amazing property seems as however it could share legends hundreds of years outdated, as if its weathered stone, quarried from the one facial area of a mountain, have to have sheltered the similar spouse and children for generations. Its spell is not accidental.

The 15-yr-old household and its surroundings are disclosed progressively to people approaching by a extensive, winding, non-public travel bordered by crepe myrtles. The hypnotic crunch of wheels on crushed stone is the only seem, no freeway sounds, no intrusion. As to start with the chimneys, dovecote then roof peaks of the Norman farmhouse-style exterior occur into see, Mississippi seems to fall absent by degrees, replaced by the idea of a European landscape.

This jewel “in the center of nowhere” displays so several of the elements that gasoline its owner’s energetic spirit — an powerful appreciation of character, world travel, intriguing finds and livable areas. Windy Hill is common, however modern day. Impressive, nevertheless welcoming. And there is an “ahh” about every single corner.

Desire Team

When Imes asked award-winning architect Ken Tate to create Windy Hill, she certain the Auburn College alumnus, “If you do just what I check with you to do, I will hardly ever make a modify. When I make up my intellect, I make up my brain.” Her very clear eyesight was a cornerstone in the large challenge that broke ground in 1994 and was concluded in 1999.

“We experienced type of a ideal dream team,” mentioned Tate, whose office environment is in Covington, Louisiana. The triumvirate of Imes as home-owner, Tate as architect and his spouse, Charme Tate, collaborating as interior designer, experienced all the right alchemy. “I’ve been working 30 years, and I would say 7 or 8 jobs came collectively like this,” Tate mentioned.

Imes’ eyesight for the new home was of a retreat easily rambling more than formal. She desired it to embrace major household gatherings and rejoice her enthusiasm for gardening. There was a great deal of work to do even right before the very first stone was positioned atop a remote rise, the place prevailing breezes finally impressed the identify Windy Hill.

“It took us a calendar year just to prepare the land to construct the dwelling,” Imes pointed out, explaining that 10 feet of Prairie grime was replaced with greater soil to aid the major structure and nourish the a lot of gardens prepared.

Through the making method, some thing really special occurred — Ken Tate had the notion of a storyline for the rising manor.

“Windy Hill is like a excellent novel that commences in the middle of a tale, then slowly but surely reveals activities that happened extensive right before the primary action requires put,” he has claimed of the job. “I didn’t know what the story was until eventually I was halfway through the structure.”

He realized his shopper wished a residence that appeared like a French farmhouse on the outside the house, with extra refined facts inside of. She also wished picturesque gardens, very similar to individuals English landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll established at the flip of the 20th century. As Tate place the things with each other, he uncovered himself making a story about three different generations of a relatives: late-Renaissance French farmers who developed the unique composition worldly late-18th century descendants who remodeled the inside and late-19th century romantics who restored the dwelling and embellished the gardens.

The moment Tate understood the story, it commenced to dictate the design and style.


The narrative of a house that advanced over time accommodates some attractive juxtaposition. The rugged stone façade, for occasion, offers way to a grand entrance hall that ascends to a trompe-l’oeil dome painted to resemble the sky. The entryway’s limestone paving underfoot was salvaged from a French chateau. To the left, a formal drawing area in pastels shimmers in all-natural mild from a leaded glass box-bay window framed in roughhewn timbers. Contrasts of rustique and refined like these echo all through.

Everywhere, good craftsmanship, natural materials and innovative style and design facts meld to generate a patina of time and rich heritage. Timber-framed vaulted ceilings, silk draperies hand-painted in London and an antique Portuguese mattress are only a several illustrations. Inside paneling created from old-progress Russian pine was crafted by English grasp carpenters who came to Mississippi to install it. Mennonite woodworkers in the Prairie applied age-previous joinery procedures to frame the wooden-pegged timbers of the rear loggia that appears to be like out throughout a sweeping croquet lawn.

Ken Tate will under no circumstances ignore driving to the Mennonites’ workshop to verify on the loggia frame’s progress for the duration of one of his regular stays in Columbus. To his surprise, the artisans had specified the wood composition a take a look at operate, to be confident everything suit as it need to.

“There the loggia was, standing in a corn industry! It was a sight to behold. Only in Mississippi,” the architect mentioned with a chuckle.

Back garden Reverie

Imes and Mother Mother nature are on very fantastic phrases. Greenery and gardens are component and parcel of Windy Hill’s charisma.

“I’m a gardener I really like it, I really adore it,” mentioned the eco-friendly-thumbed house owner.

Celebrated landscape architect René Fransen of New Orleans helped layout exuberant plantings and herbaceous borders that encompass the home with texture and shade in every single way. The profuse rose yard, with its cedar arbors, brick walkways and roomy greenhouse, has for years been a back garden club preferred. It is, having said that, about to bear a transformation.

“I’m putting in dahlias they keep up so considerably greater and make gorgeous slash bouquets,” said Imes.

The roses, she reported with wry wit, are not reciprocating the treatment lavished on them. “If they do not sing for their supper, they really don’t keep listed here.”

The South backyard — or wild backyard garden — is an enchanting sanctuary, the place flagstone paths direct to stream-fed koi ponds and perceptive guests could possibly extravagant wee folks peeking out from beneath a leaf.

A favored spot is the superior-walled cat backyard, established with a contact of whimsy. There, Imes’ beloved Himalayans — Biscuit, Peaches and Muffin — are safeguarded from predators and just take catnaps beside an antique French cat fountain.

Pay attention

Within, Windy Hill is a fitting setting for furnishings and decor Imes has collected for the duration of a life time of vacation. But there ended up compromises concerned.

“The dwelling didn’t like my Chinese stuff. It doesn’t like white, it does not like pink and does not like silver,” she defined. “This house is funny — it likes brass. You have to hear to a residence.”

For all the home’s size, Imes can frequently be discovered in its smallest room, an intimate house with reading chairs, fireplace and Prairie vistas. It was the moment referred to as a conservatory. She phone calls it “the very little room.” By way of French doorways on equally east and west sides, she can watch the solar, moon and seasons keep their appointed rounds. In the small area, she can prepare the future situation, when her six grown youngsters and their households fill the rooms with discussion and laughter.

“This is a enjoyment dwelling to stay in. It will do nearly anything I inquire it to,” said the matriarch. “The longroom, or relatives home, has space for all of us when we sit down at Xmas when we’re all jointly. And the back again terrace is 95-toes extensive I can feed everybody there.”

It was Imes’ eyesight that ushered these types of an accommodating estate into fact, and established it in the middle of “some of the prettiest land in Columbus.”

“It genuinely is so a great deal exciting, and I enjoy dwelling out right here. I’ve had a fortunate life,” she stated, that means it. And that’s a fitting sentiment for any home’s tale.


The primary residing room, referred to as the Long Area, is pictured. Inside paneling in this home is built from outdated-growth Russian pine, which was crafted by English grasp carpenters who arrived to Mississippi to install it. The space opens to the back terrace of the household.

Trim Smith is a columnist and attribute writer for The Dispatch. His email handle is [email protected]