Eudora Welty  |  Welty House  |  Welty Garden  |  Events & Exhibits  |  Resources  |  Visit  |  Contact Us

Restoration of the Welty House

In February 2006, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History completed an 18-month restoration of the Eudora Welty House. The most significant problem addressed was the house's foundation, which was uneven by nearly eight inches owing to the Yazoo clay that underlies the Belhaven neighborhood.

Welty House Restoration, 2006

Much of the flora surrounding the house was planted by Eudora and Chestina, her mother. Contractors preserved as much as possible by tunneling under the house to install thirty-foot-deep concrete piles. After months of drilling, the house was successfully lifted by the supporting piles.

Once the foundation work was completed, the electrical wiring was replaced for the first time in 80 years. Original electric fixtures and outlets were left intact, but all antiquated pipes were replaced.

Welty never air-conditioned her home; she preferred to experience the sounds and smells of the outside world through open windows and parlor doors. Careful climate control is necessary now, however, to protect the artifacts in the house. A hidden central air conditioning system was installed, incorporating the original 1925 gravity furnace registers.

Sheetrock was repaired or replaced throughout the interior of the house. While repairing the walls in the kitchen, contractors uncovered the flue hole for the famous wood-burning stove, where a frustrated Welty burned the only existing copy of "Petrified Man" after it was returned for revisions from the Southern Review by Robert Penn Warren, then one of the journal's editors. Welty eventually rewrote the story from memory and resubmitted. It was accepted and became one of her most anthologized short stories. Although that stove was removed long before Welty's death, the flue has been left exposed for visitors to see.

Interior paint colors have been restored to those selected by Welty herself. During the 1970s, Welty had much of the woodwork painted in the hope of lightening the interior of the house. She made this change and others with great hesitation, as she always thought of the house as her parents' home more than her own. In fact, when she painted the woodwork, she retained the original stain on some of the woodwork in the living and dining rooms, the most formal rooms in the house. Visitors can readily see this demarcation on the swing door between the dining room and kitchen.

The exterior of the house also underwent repairs before the house was opened to the public. Deteriorated siding and windows were repaired, the roof was replaced, cracked masonry was cleaned and re-pointed, and exterior trim was painted.