Friday, March 9, 2012

Tippah Lodge

Tippah Lodge
Paul J. Rainey, about 1910
This is "Tippah Lodge," a 10,000-acre hunting estate which included a twelve-bedroom house and a round, brick polo barn large enough for 50 horses. The lodge was built by Paul J. Rainey, a millionaire playboy, near Cotton Plant, Mississippi, in 1901. The lodge included a game and billiard room decorated with hunting trophies from Africa and an indoor heated swimming pool. Rainey was known for throwing lavish parties at the lodge, sometimes including W. C. Handy's band from Memphis. While his parties were invitation only, Rainey invited everyone, white and black, in nearby New Albany and elsewhere for an annual Fourth of July extravaganza. To manage guet overflow, Rainey built his own hotel in New Albany. The hotel included marble floors and a European chef. Rainey regularly traveled to Europe, Africa, Russia, China and the Arctic, and was an enthusiastic hunter and photographer. With the outbreak of World War I, Rainey tried to enlist, but was turned down due to health problems. Instead, he bought an ambulance and drove it in France during the war and became a photographer for the Red Cross. After the war ended, he spent most of his time in Africa, where he purchased a plantation near Nairobi in British East Africa. In 1923, on a voyage to Cape Town, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried at sea. He was 46 years old. During his life, Rainey was the first to produce films of wildlife hunts in Africa. His films were shown in New York City and other venues. Rainey also raised and trained hunting dogs at Tippah Lodge which were used in Africa for lion hunts, and he wrote about life in Russia soon after the Bolshevik Revolution, where he filmed the last residence of Czar Nicholas II. After his death, the lodge in Cotton Plant was left to his sister, who kept it as it was until her death in the late 1950's. Thereafter, most of the land was sold, except for several hundred acres surrounding the lodge. Some of the game trophies were given to the Pink Palace Museum in Memphis. When the estate was sold, the contents were auctioned off in the 1960's. The main house was later torn down except for the game room and the round polo barn, which still remains.

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