Over several years Kevin Knight visited the old Sheffield home in downtown Fulton, never knowing what called to him about the old farmhouse.
Not until the Tupelo real estate agent purchased the home less than six months ago did he learn that a family connection existed between him and the first owner who built the house.
“I found out that my great-great-grandmother was Isaac Sheffield’s sister,” Knight said. “The house has come full circle; it was my great-great-uncle’s house.”
Since purchasing the 3,800-square-foot home in August 2015, Knight has turned it into a showplace he plans to share with the rest of the Fulton community.
He already has bookings for weddings, professional photographers have used the rural setting in the heart of the city for photo shoots, and he will schedule other entertainment events for the property.
“This property combines everything about how I love to live,” said the young entrepreneur.
Knight only recently sold the “rustic retreat” he purchased just about a year ago, a two-bedroom cabin on three acres east of Fulton. Before that he lived in a a three-bedroom, two-bath new suburban home, having moved from a downtown studio loft apartment in Tupelo.
As a Tommy Morgan, Inc. Realtors associate, Knight shows a multitude of home styles.
“I love different styles and feels,” he said. “Living downtown was great, but I grew up in Itawamba County and I have a special attachment to Fulton. Before going into real estate, I owned the old Fulton Drug Store for three years and had a gift shop and florist there.”
In talking with his contemporaries, Knight found many of them, even those with families, wanted a downtown lifestyle rather than a suburban one. He also has flipped several houses and saw good potential in real estate.
“I began real estate in the fall of 2012 and found what I really love,” he said.
The home he has come to love and has named Sheffield Manor, was built in 1912 by Isaac Lewis Sheffield, a prominent Fulton attorney, and his wife Anna Rogers Walker, daughter of Fulton physician Dr. James Walker.
Dr. James Walker gave the couple property to build a home when they married, and they built it in a modest farmhouse style.
The 14-acre property, with the house, a workshop building that included living space, and a barn – all of which had fallen into serious disrepair and were hidden by dense tree and vegetation growth – stayed in the Sheffield family until it was bought at auction in 2005 by Beth and Kelly Martin, who had plans for extensive renovations.
The Martins completed a renovation of the workshop living space to occupy while working on the main house. They finished making the house structurally sound before beginning renovations, but sold it after two years before much of the aesthetic work was done.
“Isaac and Anna Rogers Sheffield had six children, two sons and four daughters,” Knight said. “In his will he required that the boys live in the home and take care of their mother, which they did and never married. I think later on there was some kind of disagreement between the brothers – Ike and Buddy – and Buddy moved out of the main house and built the workshop, where he lived. Ike died in 1987 and Buddy in 1989”
In 2007, an Atlanta physician, whose wife’s family lived in Fulton, purchased the property and continued the renovations, finishing out the interior work.
That physician then sold the property in 2012 to T.J. And Becky Adams, who renovated the kitchen and master bath, extended the wraparound porch from the side to the back of the house, added a laundry room, office and storage room and a two-car garage.
“We had the house as a listing and I bought it from them,” Knight said. “I had visited the home before, T.J. and I went to school together, and I attended a gala held here last year when the (Mississippi) Department of Archives and History was here to place historical markers. In real estate, people have bought on a gut instinct, and I decided to purchase it last May, after I had just bought my rustic retreat.”
On the first floor, the house includes a foyer, living room, dining room and kitchen with breakfast area, as well as the master bedroom suite. Off the kitchen is a butler’s pantry, laundry room, office, storeroom and access to the two-car garage.
The upstairs started out as simply attic space, but now has a spacious landing with seating, a sitting room, bedroom and bath.
“I think the room that is the dining room was originally a bedroom,” Knight said. Even since moving in last August, Knight has reconfigured several rooms and moved walls so the floor plan is different than even the previous residents had.
However, four original fireplaces grace the living room, dining room, master bedroom and master bath.
Wood from pine trees cut down on the property was used to replace wood floors throughout, although wood flooring in the kitchen eating area is original, as are many of the doors throughout the house.
Knight’s decorating style is understated rustic pieces and muted tones, but the door upstairs to the sitting room is a fire engine red roundtop door.
“I understand the physician who owned the house bought it in New York, and it came from an antique store in England,” Knight said. “This is something eyecatching that people talk about.”
Much of the work inside was already done when Knight bought the property, but he has completed several transformations outside.
He has used original brick to enclose crawlspaces around the house, to construct entry steps and to add emphasis to a concrete entry walkway that he has extended about 40 feet.
“Trees at one time had overtaken the property, so many of them had been removed, but there was still a circular drive and the front lawn area was about half of what it is now,” Knight said. “I plan to create another circular drive from the driveway that is out front now.”
Knight has transformed the living space in the workshop outbuilding into his “mancave” of sorts, a sitting room with leather-covered couches and seating, large-screen television, full size refrigerator, sink and countertops.
“I’ll have the barn, which is in dilapidated condition, disassembled and use the reclaimed wood to finish the interior of the shop,” he said. “There’s still lots I plan to do, and once it’s finished I don’t know what’s next.”