Walton-Young House Art Installation

Three local artists chosen to create high-visibility public art installations on historic house

Walton-Young installationLocal artists Rebekah Flake, Valerie Guinn Polgar, and Sarah Barch were selected to create custom art installations on the historic Walton-Young House, located next door to the University of Mississippi Museum.

The purpose of this installation is to animate the house and display the art of local artists. Each piece is weather resistant and has ties to the community.

Flake and Polgar, together, incorporated their skills in photography, animation, and electronics to create four separate displays — on each of the three porches and in the front bay windows.

“The Walton-Young House location, which sits at the intersection of town, nature, and University, serves as a beacon or ‘lighthouse’ that is a point of connection for the whole community,” said Flake.

Flake and Polgar’s pieces are themed after what can be seen if standing on each porch and looking out of the window frames, each with a representative color — red, green, or blue. The North Porch, on the front of the house, faces town and is styled in blue with a picture of the Oxford Water Tower. The West Porch, facing the Brandt Memory House, reflects the University in red. The South Porch on the rear of the house mirrors nature, specifically the Bailey Woods Trail, in green.

At night, the front bay windows light up with projections of the same themes — RGB.

Barch created a Victorian crazy quilt, “Something to Keep Warm”, that celebrates and pays homage to women who stitched beauty into their homes while also keeping their loved ones warm.

“In putting this quilt on the outside of the Victorian-era Walton-Young House, I take what would normally be hidden inside such a house and place it outdoors, for everyone to see,” Barch said.

The quilt follows tradition and does not have a set pattern, but the pieces are carefully sewn together by the woman who created it and then embellished with her own style of creativity.

“I hope that doing so makes visible not only the quilt as art, but also woman, and the creative energy that she often uses to (in many different ways) keep us all warm,” she said.

The Walton-Young Historic House is a registered Mississippi Landmark and a typical middle-class home of the Victorian era. Horace H. Walton, who owned a hardware store on the Oxford Square, built the house in 1880. Walton and his wife, Lydia Lewis Walton, lived in the house with their three children, Lewis, Victoria, and Horace, until his death in 1891.

After Walton passed away, Lydia boarded university students in an upstairs bedroom to provide for her family. In 1895, she married Dr. Alfred Alexander Young, a country physician and widower from Como, Mississippi. Dr. Young moved into the house, bringing his son, Stark, and daughter, Julia. Stark Young was the most famous resident of the Walton-Young house, and he remained there while attending Ole Miss at the turn of the century. Young became a well-known novelist and playwright.

Dr. and Mrs. Young lived in the house until their deaths in 1925. The First Presbyterian Church of Oxford purchased the house for use as a parsonage. Four ministers’ families occupied the house over the next fifty years.

The university purchased the house in 1974, and it housed the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Honors College. The house became a part of the University Museum in 1997.
The house is located at the corner of University Avenue and Fifth Street, adjacent to the University Museum. The house is currently closed to the public.