Hickory Hill was built about 1804 from hickory, ash, hard pine and butternut from the surrounding woodlands near Wilson, Louisiana. The red bricks were baked on the plantation and the wooden pegs, used instead of nails, as well as the woodwork, were fashioned by hand. The walls are 18 inches thick. On the front, four tall white plastered brick columns rise to a fan-lighted pediment. The columns are of the Doric order, the outer ones square and the two center ones round. Both upper and lower galleries are enclosed at each end by a brick wall. Each of the eight rooms has a fireplace with hand carved mantels. The kitchen, pantries and dining hall were in a separate building reached by a covered walk. In the garden, ancient camellias, wild olives and crepe myrtles still grow in wild profusion.
Hickory Hill was one of the fine old homes to survive the Civil War although it lay on the path of heavy skirmishes. Twice it narrowly escaped the torch. The first time, a brisk encounter took place nearby, and a young neighbor was killed. His body was laid out in the gallery so the countryside could pass and do him honor. Late that night, the Yankees returned to destroy the house and seeing the boy, with candles burning at his head and his feet, silently went away.
The second time Hickory Hill was spared was when federal troops left Baton Rouge and moved through the countryside burning barns, crops, lumber and stores and looting anything they could carry away. Records attribute the sparing of the old house to a Negro who had served the family for years but had gone to Baton Rouge to be the servant of a Yankee Colonel. It is told that the man, Jim Waddill, asked the Colonel to keep his soldiers away from Hickory Hill because "they are my white people and they have always been good to me."
Wednesday, 17-Oct-2001 05:41:49 MDT
© 2000 Josephine Lindsay Bass E-Mail Address: [email protected]