My House: The Pleasant Reed Story

Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

The Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center is a reconstruction of the original house built by Pleasant Reed in the late 19th century that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  A visit to the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center provides a rare opportunity to see how an African American born into slavery persevered in spite of daunting circumstances.  Pleasant Reed was not the only individual born a slave who later built his family a house with funds earned in the post-Civil War economy; but his home is one of the few that that can be identified with a particular African American builder and homeowner.

Locket with photos of Pleasant and Georgia Reed; believed to date from their wedding in 1884.

Pleasant Reed probably began construction of his house in 1887.

Pleasant Reed's house hallway
The side hall cottage is a common house type throughout the entire Mississippi River Valley region, but they are found in the greatest concentration in New Orleans.

The Reed's house was originally built with only three rooms; the kitchen was completely detached from the house until around 1910 when the city was connected to a public water supply.

By the 1970's the home had deteriorated so seriously that it was threatened with demolition. The Gulf Coast chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta sorority intervened to save the house from destruction. The Pleasant Reed House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places from 1979 to 2008.

In 2002 the Reed house was moved from its original location on Elmer Street to the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art's campus.

The Board of Trustees of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum is determined to keep honoring the legacy of Pleasant Reed. In 2005 the original home was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. In 2006 the Board voted to build a replica of the house and the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center was dedicated in September 2008.

Men working in the piney woods near Biloxi, Mississippi. Circa 1900

A letter indicating that Pleasant Reed was on the District Board on Appeal for Harrison County, Mississippi in 1918.

A postcard to Pleasant Reed from the War Department

A water rent receipt made out to Pleasant Reed from the City of Biloxi, Mississippi

The Pleasant Reed house was entered on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Credits: Story

Compiled from the collection and archives of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in partnership with the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area


For their support, the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art would like to thank:
The City of Biloxi
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
State of Mississippi
Mississippi Gulf Coast Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Beau Rivage Resort and Casino
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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