No Place Like Home

Childhood memories inspire a Prairie homestead

Story Jan Swoope | Photographs Matt Garner

Through the many years Lane Hardy Pierrot lived in distant locales like Juneau, Alaska; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, D.C., she held close her memories of growing up in the Lowndes County Prairie, west of Columbus, Miss. There was something almost anointed about Primrose, the house and farm she called home there until age 11.

So, when life brought Pierrot and her husband, Tracy, back to Columbus in 2005, she had definite ideas when time came to build.

“I knew I wanted to live in the Prairie and have lots of windows to be able to see the land. I wanted a central hallway, a wraparound porch, columns, arches and crossed gables,” says the homeowner, listing features of the childhood house she hoped to replicate. “I wanted all that — and I had no earthly idea what to do with it.”

Weaving those architectural elements into a plan that paid homage to the original Primrose but also embraced the present was entrusted to Pierrot’s cousin and girlhood playmate, designer Anna Hardy McIntyre.

“I really wanted an ‘old’ house, and I was nervous about building,” admits Pierrot, “but Anna had an incredible capacity to visualize how things would look. She told me she would build me my ‘new-old house’ and made it all work in a way I could not possibly have done.”

The resulting Queen Anne-style homestead, completed in 2006, combines quaint exterior charm with an interior that reflects Pierrot’s bold spirit.

Adventurous wall colors — deep crimson, ruby red, melon, eggplant — form a vibrant backdrop for an extensive collection of family pieces and eclectic art.

In the central hall, walls of rice paddy green draw the eye from front door to back, where intimate seating areas on the porch invite visitors to revel in the panorama of ponds, woodland and wildlife.

“After I left Mississippi, I was always yearning for someplace that looked like the Prairie, a place that felt like home,” says Pierrot. “Now, I’ve found it.”

Finding home did not come without heartache. Pierrot’s husband succumbed to cancer only a few months after the couple moved in. Compounding the loss, Anna McIntyre lost her own battle with the disease eight months later. For a while, the setting and new house were almost too painfully beautiful to bear, Pierrot confides. But with the passing years, the essence of those loved ones has made the “new-old house” even more treasured.

“Where I am is one of the most beautiful places to me,” says Pierrot. “This is more than my dream house because I couldn’t have dreamed it. Having Anna bring it together was like having somebody who grew up with you and knew what you wanted, in a way you didn’t even know yourself. It was magic.”