The Keessee House in Helena provides an example of the transitional period in architecture at the turn of the century. The house reflects elements of both the Queen Anne and Classical Revival styles by combining an asymmetrical Queen Anne plan with Classical Revival detailing. The house was built for Thomas Woodfin Keesee in 1901. Thomas was the son of John William Keesee, a prosperous farmer in Phillips County, and was raised on a plantation outside of town. When the young Keesee decided to build his own home on Arkansas Street, he joined a fashionable neighborhood which was considered the showplace of this riverport community. Keesee was engaged in farming and cotton buying, both of which were major businesses in this highly agricultural area of eastern Arkansas. By the beginning of the 20th Century Helena had recovered from the damaging effects of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The production, brokerage, and shipping of cotton was truly “big business.” Thomas Woodfin Keesee and his family actively participated in these enterprises, and his home reflects the success one could achieve.
Abstract of Titles, Hornor-Morris Abstract Co., 711 Walnut, Helena, AR.
Historic Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, published by the Phillips County Chamber of Commerce, 1973.
Allen Keesee – family member.
Helena, the Ridge, the River, the Romance; by George deMan, 1978.