Brownsville McLemore Thomas

McLemore-Thomas House
719 Key Corner St.

Imagine it’s 1835, and high upon a hill just outside of town, there is a two-room, yellow poplar log dogtrot house, where not only the McLemore family resides, but also the local school children are taught their ABCs. Sugars McLemore, an early settler, built a log structure on the site. He was an early surveyor who started at a place in Lauderdale County, to the west along the Mississippi River, known as Key Corner. His daughter, Mary, married Richard Thomas, a wealthy cotton broker, in 1858. The house was given as a wedding present. They moved to St. Louis during the Civil War. Upon returning, Thomas constructed this brick townhouse with vernacular Italianate features that include a low-pitch hipped roof, wide overhangs and decorative, scrolled brackets that we see today. A wealthy cotton broker, Thomas was also an investor in the Brownsville Hotel Company.

This house was once the childhood residence of Richard Halliburton. Born in 1900, Halliburton was an American traveler, adventurer, and author. At a young age he moved with his family to Memphis. Sickly as a teenager, he spent time at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, operated by the eccentric John Harvey Kellogg and the inventor of corn flakes. After an erratic stay at Princeton University, Halliburton set out on a lengthy career traveling the world after graduating in 1921. He went on to write numerous adventure novels following his experiences. His first, The Royal Road to Romance, was an international success. Along the way, he climbed the Matterhorn, was incarcerated at Devil’s Island, spent a night atop the Great Pyramid in Egypt, recreated Hannibal’s trek across the Alps on an elephant, and retraced the path of Odysseus in the Odyssey. He also swam the Nile, the Panama Canal, the Grand Canal of Venice, and even the reflecting pool at the Taj Mahal in India. His last journey was on a Chinese junket that set out from Hong Kong bound for San Francisco. Halliburton and the rest of the crew were lost at sea in 1939. The home is in the College Hill Historic District.

College Hill Historic District