Moody Victorian dream: Busbys start work to open vendor gallery, inn, event venue in old home
Published 12:02 pm Thursday, January 26, 2023
BROOKHAVEN — The home at 402 Drury Lane was bought by Stuart and Joanna Busby who will name it The Eleanor Vendors Gallery. They closed on the home last week and have started to transform it into a business space. Joanna said she felt the name Eleanor fit the character of the home.
Two white pillars with lights greet visitors at the drive way as an old Victorian home with peeling white paint looms in the gray clouds above. Old oak trees stand a testament to the home’s age. A hidden garden at ground level opens up in the view of a vast window on the second story. Shiplap juts out of cracked drywall and in the adjacent room pheasants race around the room’s wallpaper in a tight strip right below the ceiling seam.
Cold drafts of air flow through the home as Joanna describes her plan for each spot of the house. Built in 1910, The Eleanor was once an old home known as “The Drury House,” but it will now be home to a flea market and gallery in Brookhaven. Joanna said she has not been able to find much else about the history of the house. They have a chance to write a new story for the home.
“We have driven past this house a few times and thought it could be more than what it is,” Stuart said. “We have big dreams but we will have to see how it comes out.”
The short term plan for The Eleanor is to become a store of treasures in the downstairs area.
Her long term goal is to turn it into a “beautiful Victorian inn and Venue.” Eleanor Vendors Gallery would still be there but on a different portion of the property once they turn it into a wedding venue. Right now, she and her husband are working on getting it ready to open.
“I want a moody Victorian vibe and offer something different. Maybe stained glass, mosaic tile and textured wallpaper. I want to keep the old character,” Joanna said. “I have to figure out what to do with this sunk-in-bathtub. I don’t want anyone to fall in it. I might add a leg lamp upstairs in a window. The family before us used it as a closet.”
Her hope is the Victorian character will remain in both its time as a vendors gallery and as a turn key event venue. They hope to have an industrial sized kitchen, a suite for a bride and groom and more once they open up as an inn and venue.
Looking to the short term, they hope to finish work on upgrading electrical wiring upstairs and replacing a burst pipe in the next few months. Vendors will likely be down stairs and will be people who sell art, jewelry, clothes and soap products. Joanna said the rooms upstairs would be great office spaces once they are ready.
Over the last six months, they have looked at purchasing the house. Stuart and Joanna have nearly paid off their house in Loyd Star and considered buying the home on Drury Lane. Joanna said one of her biggest fears was someone would come in and bulldoze the property.
“We do a lot of traveling and have stayed in places like Vicksburg and Natchez and loved the old homes and antique stores and wanted to open something similar,” she said. “We were not sure if we wanted to take on the financial responsibility. We prayed about it and thought real hard about it. It just felt right.”
A towering palm tree will offer shade in the hidden garden during the summer. Joanna said her hope is to clean it up this spring before plants get too thick and it gets too hot. It could be transformed into an English style garden with different flowers and plants. A glass gazebo would be another addition they hope to make to the garden along with wooden church pews some day.
Her mind thinks about all of the opportunities they have with the home for photography on wedding days or events.
She saw an opportunity under the chipped wood surface and dusty onyx tile work. Her mind is in gear thinking of all the ways she can repurpose the old beautiful home. Old copper she found around the suite’s fireplace will likely end up on the pallet board, she said.
For the last 10 to 11 years, the Busbys have pursued antiques through estate sales and rummage sales. Joanna said she is more of a collector while her husband sees a monetary value in things. They sell items at different antique vendors, Facebook Marketplace and Ebay.
She said an estate sale in Louisiana is what got her into antiques in the first place. A wooden box with an ivory elephant caught her eye, it was a good sized statue, she said.
The Busbys started bidding on the lot and Joanna just knew she had to have the ivory elephant. It was an adrenaline rush with the auctioneer rambling on. They ended up with three trailer loads and two truck loads of items from the lot. Joanna said it was neat how she and her husband share a passion for old things.
The Busby’s neatest find was a book printed in 1689 at the Butterfield Mansion. It was a special edition which had all of its E’s misprinted as Rs. A museum bought the book, she said.
“I like to save history. We have an appreciation for older things. I hate to see when people take something old and beautiful and paint over it or throw it away,” Joanna said. “I know things are not made the way they used to be. Generations younger than me do not appreciate the beauty and detail. We appreciate those things.”
Meet the Busbys
Originally from Enterprise, Joanna and Stuart moved to Loyd Star and have been married for 12 years. They have an adopted son named Abel who is from Pascagoula. He attends Loyd Star Attendance Center but is typically on his momma’s heels as she works on the Eleanor home.
She said they have three dogs and one cat to make up the rest of the family. Joanna has an immense love for kids and animals. Her hope is to adopt another child because Abel would like a brother or sister.
“He likes to tell people he was adopted from the beach,” Joanna said. “Stuart works as a technician at the Nissan plant in Canton. Abel likes to tell his friends his dad builds robots. I have worked in dispatch and retail before. I have been home for the past six months and I enjoy being a mom but also enjoy being out around people. This place will be right up my alley and give me a chance to visit and make friends.”