ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Tennessee Williams Birthplace, MS
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Tennessee Williams Birthplace, MS
Birthplace of Tennessee Williams
The famed playwright was born in the rectory of
St. Paul's Episcopal Church on March 26, 1911.
The home is in Columbus, Mississippi.
Tennessee Williams
The writer of such acclaimed
dramas as "Cat on a Hot Tin
Roof" and "A Streetcar Named
Desire" was born here.
Literary Landmark
The colorful Victorian house
has been listed as a Literary
Landmark by Friends of
Libraries, U.S.A.
Tennessee Williams Birthplace - Columbus, Mississippi
Tennessee Williams' First Home
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 15, 2012
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Southern Literature & Music
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
Williams spent the first three
years of his life here before
going on to write two Pulitzer
Prize winning dramas.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Tennessee Williams was
baptized at St. Paul's by his
grandfather. The historic
church was consecrated in
1860 and survived the Civil
The noted Southern playwright and writer
Tennessee Williams was born on March 26,
1911, in
Columbus, Mississippi.

The residence in which he was born and
spent the first three years of his life is now
the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center. It
is located at 300 Main Street in Columbus
and is listed on both the National Register of
Historic Places and as a Literary Landmark.

It is thought that the beautiful old Victorian
home was built in around 1875. It served as
the rectory of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
and originally stood adjacent to the church,
which is located at 318 College Street.

Thomas Lanier Williams, best known as
Tennessee Williams, was born in the house
during the time his grandfather, Rev. Walter
Dakin, was rector at St. Paul's.

Rev. Dakin came to Columbus in 1905. His
wife, Rose Dakin, was a music teacher and
gracious host, a role she was often called
upon to fill due to her husband's ministry.
Their daughter, Edwina, is usually described
by modern writers as a "Southern belle" (and
often not in a complimentary way).

Married to a shoe company employee named
C.C. Williams, Edwina gave birth to Thomas
Lanier Williams at the rectory in Columbus
on March 26, 1911. The future playwright was
the second of the couple's three children. His
older sister, Rose, was born in 1909 and his
younger brother, Dakin, would be born in

Young Thomas and his family lived in the
rectory until 1913, when Rev. Dakin left St.
Paul's to relocate to Columbia, Tennessee.
That state, of course, would give the writer
the name by which he is best known.

The Williams family headed off on its own
when Thomas was 8 years old. His father
received a promotion that required a move to
St. Louis, Missouri, and it was there that the
writer spent the rest of his childhood. The
family moved a number of times around the

It was a difficult life for a young boy and much
of what Williams would later write is thought
to have been based on his observations of
his family and self-analysis of his own life.
One thing is beyond dispute, he was a very
talented writer.

It is also beyond dispute that his boyhood
home of Columbus had a strong influence in
his works. He once wrote his grandfather
expressing his desire to visit the city, noting
that he should do so if he hoped to continue
writing about it.

Columbus takes great pride in Tennessee
Williams, who went on to write the Pulitzer
Prize winning dramas "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
and "A Streetcar Named Desire." He was one
of two Pulitzer winners with strong ties to the
city. The other, Eudora Welty, attended what
is now the Mississippi University for Women
in Columbus. She won the Pulitzer Price in
1973 for her novel,
The Optimist's Wife.

The old rectory where Williams lived early in
life was threatened with demolition in 1993.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church badly needed
room for expansion and consideration was
given to dismantling the historic house.
Photos by Kristina Martin
A preservation effort formed, however, and
thanks to numerous concerned citizens and
agencies, the house was saved. Moved the
short distance to 300 Main Street, it was
restored to its 1911 appearance. The interior
gives visitors a chance to see the house
much as it looked when Tennessee Williams
learned to walk and talk in its rooms.

Since the completion of its restoration, the
house has been featured on a U.S. postage
stamp and been described in numerous
travel and literary publications. It is a focal
point of the annual Tennessee Williams
Tribute & Tour of Victorian Homes and has
been designated a Literary Landmark by the
Friends of Libraries, U.S.A.

Other sites associated with Tennessee
Williams in Columbus include St. Paul's
Episcopal Church. The historic church took
four years to complete and was consecrated
in 1860. It survived the War Between the
States (also known as the Civil War) and, in
addition to its connection with the famed
playwright, preserves a fascinating tradition
from those days.

The African Americans of the area learned of
their liberation from slavery on May 8, 1865.
Since the day was celebrated as a holiday by
many of the family cooks of Columbus, the
women of St. Paul's began serving a
community lunch on that day. The church
continues its remarkable Eight O'May lunch
to this day. It is one of the most unique
celebrations of emancipation in the country.

The annual Tennessee Williams Tribute &
Tour of Victorian Homes will take place
September 4-9, 2012.
Please click here to
learn more.

The Tennessee Williams Welcome Center is
located at 300 Main Street in Columbus,
Mississippi. The historic house is open to
the public Monday - Saturday from 8:30 to 5.

Please click here for more information on the
Tennessee Williams Welcome Center.