Some Historic Homes of Mississippi

Return to Historic Homes Menu

Return to State Table of Contents




This paper, so far devoted to descriptions of plantation and suburban homes, will now give a story of a city home, the "Porterfield"  home of Vicksburg.  It is a large, square-built brick house, three stories high, with long wide halls, three in number, two rooms on each side of the hall on each floor except the first;  this has two on the right of the entrance and one, the banqueting hail, on the left, a room 24 by 42 feet, with ceiling 18 feet in height.  It is lighted by seven long windows;  two of these windows open upon the street; two at the other end of the room open towards the river, looking across the beautiful grounds of the home. The floor of this splendid room is marble in alternate blocks of white and blue; two fireplaces, with mantels and jambs of carved white marble, attest the cheer that blazing fires once lent to festive occasions.  The two rooms on the opposite side of the hail are finished in the same style as the one just described.  The furnishing of these delightful rooms was in accord with them.  The interior finishing is of solid walnut, hand-carved;  the work was done by expert workmen from the East.  The house has two fronts, the one towards the river commanding a view of the grand old river for miles down, and up to where the Yazoo pours its flood into the “Father of Waters.”  Across the river may be seen the fair fields of Louisiana.  In the grounds around the house are found trees and shrubs from many parts of the world;  stately trees of lebanon, camphor, bay, coffee, palm, and tea mingle their branches with the magnolia, japonica, oak, and cedar of our own sunny land.  A large basin, shaped like a horse-shoe, with a bronze cross in the center of the curve, attracted the attention of a recent visitor who asked the meaning of a device so strange in the yard; without speaking, a member of the home turned a faucet, and the meaning was at once explained—the water burst from the top of the cross and fell in a shower to the horse-shoe basin. Around the basin were masses of lovely aquatic plants.

During the late war, Grant shelled the house for three weeks, thinking it was Pemberton’s headquarters, but Providence held a protecting hand over and about the beautiful home, and but one shell touched it.  This entered the open dining room door, ranged upward through the long room, went through the ceiling, tore off about three feet of the facing of the parlor door, then out through the open front door, split off a part of one of the immense Corinthian pillars which support the veranda roof, then cut the top of a cedar off fifteen feet from the ground;  but even the cedar was not to be vanquished by the guns of an enemy.  It grew and flourished for twenty-five years, then yielded to Nature. When the war alarm sounded over the land, calling the men to strike for home and right, Albert Sidney Johnston was among the first to answer the call. Albert Sidney Johnston, the lifelong friend of the Porterfields, at once called young Porterfield to a position on his staff, and presented him with a handsome horse and saddle, which were in constant use during the four years of war. 

The saddle and other accoutrements are among the valued treasures of the old home. This home was for years the resting place of the Davises, Albert Sidney Johnston, and other prominent men of affairs in the South when in Vicksburg.  A few years before his death, President Davis visited Vicksburg, a guest of the city, and was tendered a reception in this home, which had so often welcomed and entertained him.

Links of Interest
  • Albert Sidney Johnston (1802-1862)

  • by Mrs. N. D. Deupree
    From Publications The Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. VI,
    Edited by Franklin L. Riley, Secretary
    Published Oxford, Mississippi 1902

    Public Domain Material
    May not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

    Online coding/layout Copyright 2001 Ellen Pack - All Rights Reserved