A home for sale in Gautier was designed and built by one of South Mississippi’s best known developers, the self-taught contractor Carroll Ishee.
The 3-bedroom house is located at 8305 Pine Cone Drive in north Gautier, near the recently reopened Hickory Hills Golf Course. It’s listed for an asking price of $260,000.
The real estate listing had a sale pending at 4 p.m. Monday.
Jeff Rosenberg, a preservationist at the Department of Marine Resources, told the Sun Herald the house is “very emblematic of Ishee.”
Rosenberg curated an exhibition on Ishee’s work that is on display indefinitely at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.
Rosenberg said the house, which was built in 1979, dates from Ishee’s late period and bears characteristics of the style he developed toward the end of his life, including an emphasis on sustainability and harmony with natural surroundings.
Ishee’s death in 1982 dates the house as one of his last constructions.
The mid-centry style home has large fixed glass walls “to create a tree house retreat,” the listing says, and has hidden storage throughout the living areas and a Japanese-style shower room.
“There are only a few Ishee homes that were build on the Coast … a true art lover’s dream,” according to the listing.
Who was Carroll Ishee?
Carroll Ishee was born in 1921 in Hattiesburg. He had no formal training as an architect. He went to law school but “realized he did not care for it,” Rosenberg said.
But over the course of a four-decade career building homes across South Mississippi, he developed an idiosyncratic style that makes many of his houses recognizable across the Coast today.
Ishee had already been building homes in a minimalist style when he suffered a traumatic heart attack in 1963, an experience Rosenberg sees as a lynchpin event in Ishee’s career.
During the year-long period of recuperation that followed his heart attack, Rosenberg said, Ishee read library books about architecture his wife brought him from the University of South Mississippi, where she was a graduate student. He taught himself techniques like perspective drawing in order to refine his craft.
When he was able to work again, the autodidact builder’s new homes tended not to include features like lawns that required extensive maintenance. Rosenberg said this change stemmed from Ishee’s experience of the heart attack, which he blamed on working too hard.
Rosenberg said there is a “mystique” around these homes which is partly a result of the fact that many were built on densely wooded lots, and can’t be seen from the road.
This is part of a wider preoccupation Ishee adopted with the natural environment, which is reflected in the Gautier home now for sale.
Rosenberg noted that, on this house’s front door, “there’s no traditional knob; it’s a giant tree branch. That’s the connection with nature.”
Bid for national recognition for local builder
Rosenberg, the preservation coordinator for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, has spent years researching the life and work of Ishee, and is in the process of submitting a list of his buildings to the National Register of Historic Places.
Placement on the register would help ensure protection for the homes in the event of disaster damage and recognition for the artistry in their construction.
But while such national recognition has so far eluded Ishee’s legacy, he is something of a household name here in South Mississippi, where about 150 of his buildings remain standing, with a large concentration in Ocean Springs.
“If you ask anybody on the Gulf Coast about Ishee homes, they’ve heard of them, so there’s always been a large public interest,” Rosenberg said.
This story was originally published March 28, 2022 4:30 PM.