Temple Heights Mansion

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Two former ladies cordially share this mansion with the living.



Wow! What a massive, impressive southern townhouse mansion!! Tom and I took a road trip through the South the summer of 2019, hoping to catch mansion tours in southern states. However, Temple Heights it is only open for inside tours during the annual Pilgrimage event. However, we got an eyeful of the outside of this impressive mansion!


After reading the sign in front of this impressive structure that requested visitors to use the side stairs, we went up the side steps of this property, where we got some great photos to share with our website readers. There was no sign warning of trespassing.

The temple form structure of this grand mansion shouts Greek Revival architecture; looking very much like Greek Temple;which explains why the original owners called their mansion, Temple Heights. “It is an admirable example of noble simplicity, beauty, and harmony in Doric style.”

Yes indeed! There are grand colonnades of five Greek Pillars along the front and along the sides, that appeared after the Harris family remodeled in 1854 the mansion to be more Greek Revival. Apparently Greek Revival was the style to have in 1854! They hold up large porticos on each side of the mansion. The original enclosed front porch was taken out to make room for the massive structure needed to support the portico.

I looked up Temple Heights Mansion’s 1978 registration for NRHP. They reported in detail the attributes of Temple Heights.

“Built into the side of the hill, the nearly square, clapboarded, gable-roofed structure stands two and a half stories high, with a full basement under the southern or rear portion. Exterior paved, single-shoulder chimneys on the western elevation are laid in common bond. Nine-over-nine windows on the first level of the three-bay dwelling diminish to six-over-nine on the second and third levels. All windows feature Grecian sur- rounds set with end blocks and are fitted with operable louvered blinds that retain their original latch-type hardware.”

The inside of Temple Heights must be something to see as well. Tom and I want to plan another trip to Columbus when “The Pilgrimage” takes place. The trick is getting tickets from the Columbus Visitor’s Bureau.

“In the double parlors, are Persian, marble mantles built from virgin timber. house combines Federal and Greek Revival features. The home includes four floors, porches on three sides, and 14 Doric columns. The home is the setting for historic narratives about 19th century life in Columbus. Temple Heights has been featured in The Magazine Antiques and on HGTV’s Old Homes Restored.”


In 1830, a treaty was made between the government and the Choctaw native Americans; which made available the rich land just south of Columbus; perfect for plantations. General Richard T. Brownrigg who was a North Carolinian wealthy, well-established planter and former representative in the North Carolina Legislature, was ready for an adventure after his brother-in-law told him of the opportunity on this newly available land. In 1835, General Richard T. Brownrigg, left North Carolina, moving his large family of 11 and his 91 slaves, and wagons and animals as well. They traveled over the great smokey mountains to settle on a new plantation south of the town of Columbus.

This newly purchased estate was part of a two portion land grant given to an government interpreter who helped to settle the Indian treaty; a deal that the Choctaw “couldn’t refuse.” (Quote from the God Father).

In 1837, the good General Richard decided to build one of the city of Columbus’ first town homes, which he called Temple Heights townhouse Mansion. General Richard T. Brownrigg was inspired to do so after his married daughter Sarah Sportsman, complained about living in the country plantation because of its the rugged isolation, bad roads in the winter, and lack of naturally clean water that didn’t have to be boiled. Conditions were basic during this frontier era. I would agree with her; I wouldn’t like those conditions either.

The Brownrigg family jumped right into the social and spiritual life of Columbus. They were the mover and shakers in bringing refinement and culture to Columbus. Richard Brownrigg helped to build the Columbus Episcopal Church, became the height elder there, and kept his hand in local politics; being active in the Wig party. His son, John, became a prominent physician; serving the health needs of the community.

Temple Heights was a proper illustration of his wealth. The mansion was used I bet for entertaining family, friends and the neighborhood. They probably held cultural events in one of their grand parlors.

After General Richard T. Brownrigg died, Temple Heights was put on the real estate market by his wife, due to a bad business decision made by General Richard that didn’t pan out.Temple Heights was bought by another wealthy family, the Harris family in the late 1840s. The money received from this sale helped greatly the surviving Brownrigg family.

Thomas W Harris was a successful lawyer from Georgia. In Georgia, Harris was the lawyer who represented the Cherokee Indians in their legal fight to stay in Georgia and not be moved to Oklahoma. In 1854, Mr. and Mrs. Harris decided to remodel the outside look of Temple Heights and enhance the Greek Revival style and down play the Federal style. The magnificent Greek pillars and porticos that adorn the front and sides but not the back of Temple Heights are their contribution.

The Harris family had several daughters, who grew up in Temple Heights. Daughter Mary was married in the parlor. She and her new husband also lived in the mansion as there was plenty of room.

In 1867, Temple Heights was put back on the real estate market, Civil War widow Mrs. Jane Fontaine bought this magnificent Her claim to fame was that she was one of the group that started Decoration Day in 1866.

In 1887, Pastor J. H. Kennebrew purchased this mansion, and moved in with his wife and family of five daughters. One of his daughters, Elizabeth, never married, and lived in Temple Heights for her old life. As she became older, she was considered to be a bit odd; using “mercurochrome for lipstick and rouge, and chalk dust for facial powder.”

Temple Heights stayed in the Kennebrew family for 71 years; owned by various descendants of the five Kennebrew daughters. Throughout the years, Temple Heights was well maintained; never allowed to fall into disrepair.

In 1965, Temple Heights was again on the real estate market and bought by Mr. and Mrs. Carl H Butler from the two surviving Kennebrew family members. The only restoration that the Butlers did was to restore it to its former 1854 self, the dream home of the Harris family. The Butlers applied for NRHP listing for Temple Heights, and received it on May 22nd 1978.

Temple Heights stayed in the Butler family until 2016 when it was sold to its current owners, the Novotnys family, who continue to maintain this glorious mansion. Temple Heights is opened for tours during The Pilgrimage event, and throughout the spring and summer, via the Columbus Visitors Bureau, who sells tickets.



When people tragically die, taking them away from what they love in this world, they may decide to stay and try to find ways to carry on in spirit form;’ not ready to leave just yet.

Marry Harris was a newly wed, and had lived with her beloved in this mansion only 3 months before she suddenly died.

People who dearly love their home and live there for a time, sometimes want to stay in their home as a spirit, and find ways to announce themselves to the living

Miss Elizabeth Kennebrew lived there her whole life in her beloved home.




Two spirits reside peacefully with the owners, though they inadvertently have given visitors and guests an occasional thrill.

Spirit of Miss Elizabeth Kennebrew

During the month of July of 1991, tourists came for an open house tour. In the middle of the master bedroom, Miss Elizabeth appeared before them, as a good hostess must be cordial.

Being a minister’s daughter, she was used to entertaining people from the congregation.

The Spirit of Miss Elizabeth has been seen throughout the house. Her disembodied voice is thought to be heard.

Spirit of Mary Harris

Described as being pleasant but noisy! She wants the living to know that she is still there.

Doors have been known to open and close by themselves, and sounds of voices float from empty rooms.

An overnight guest got a thrill when she awoke in the night, and saw through a female spirit, identified as Mary open second floor bedroom door. This seen female spirit became a bright ball of mist cross the hallway and float up some stairs.

Activity From Either Spectral Mistress

Activity that could be either the spirit of Elizabeth or Mary:

Another guest took polaroid pictures of their sofa, that happened to have the family cat sitting on it, looking at something next to it.

When the pictures quickly developed, a similar bright ball of mist was sitting on the sofa next to the cat.

Paranormal Findings

The families who have lived in this mansion in the late 19th and 20th & 21st centuries have had a boatload of activity with these two spectral ladies of the house. Guests have also had personal experiences. No hard evidence have been published on line, though the polaroid pictures did catch something on the sofa.


Still Haunted?

Most Probably so! Two spectral ladies who loved this grand Temple Heights Mansion are most probably still in residence, willing to share their beloved mansion with the living.


Temple Heights Mansion (Brownrigg-Harris-Kennebrew House)
515 N 9th St,
Columbus, MS 39701

The glorious Temple Heights mansion can be found in the oldest residential area in Columbus, sitting on top of a large grassy bank on Ninth Street North.

Haunts in Mississippi