Hopkins House Open for Tour

From The Gazette – May 9, 1991

Marion’s famed Hopkins House, officially entered into the National Register of Historic Places by the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism in 1983, will be open for tours this weekend in conjunction with the annual Mayhaw Festival.

Gail Durbin, current resident of the house, said that the home will be open for tour on Friday evening beginning at 7 p.m. and again on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.

Tickets will be priced at $2 each for adults and $1 each for children with proceeds going to the Marion Volunteer Fire Department for needed equipment.

The story of the Hopkins House has been told many times throughout the years…

Toward the middle of the nineteenth century, the Rev. Elias George, a wealthy planter and Baptist minister from Alabama, settled in Marion with his family. Legend has it that George paid a slave, who was skilled as a carpenter, the sum of $3,000 to construct the home.

In 1854, upon the death of his wife, George decided to secure the services of a tutor to aid with the rearing of his children. At that time, there were no formal schools in Marion area.

From New Orleans, George hired a tutor by the name of Mrs. Harrison, accompanied by her daughter, Anna Portesque Harrison. An accomplished musician, Ann Porter, as her mother called her, furthered the children’s cultural learning by giving them music lessons.

During the course of their stay in Marion, 18-year-old Ann Porter met and fell in love with the son of a prominent Marion family, Miles Goldsby. Mrs. Harrison, who had heard rumors of the suitor’s wild adventures, quickly grew to distrust Miles and stayed close at hand. In an effort to distance themselves from Mrs. Harrison’s eye, because customs of the day prohibited a young couple to walk alone after dark, Miles began to call in late afternoon, or “in the gloaming”, and the two would take their strolls throughout the grounds surrounding the house.

As Mrs. Harrison realized the seriousness of her daughter’s affections, she waited for an appropriate opportunity to put an end to the romance. When Miles departed for a trip up north, Mrs. Harrison quickly packed their belongings and moved her daughter back to New Orleans.

When he returned several weeks later, Miles found Ann Porter gone, never to be heard from again. Ann later wrote to one of Reverend George’s daughters with news of a song she had written, entitled “In the Gloaming” to be published soon.

An immediate success, “In the Gloaming”, like the story behind it has never been forgotten. One account reveals that Miles Goldsby found short happiness in marriage, but died a violent death, jumping from an upstairs window at the George house into the shadows of the oaks beneath which he and Ann walked.

Ann Porter is said to have lived in the New Orleans area until her death.

In 1854, according to a history of the town compiled by Mrs. Mary Lee Phillips, the Reverend George sold the house to Mr. Jim Hopkins, who was married to Mrs. Alice Powell Frellson. Heirs of the Hopkins family still own the home where Mary Hopkins, former Shreveport teacher, lived until her death around 1974.

The 11 room frame house is complete with hall trees, dressers and other furniture from pre-Civil War days. French light fixtures, hand-carved tables and chairs, Jenny Lind beads and depression glass are found throughout the six-bedroom home, resided in by Ms. Durbin and her daughters Lyndi and Dee.

Ms. Durbin added that it is rumored there is a tunnel from the house to another unknown location in town, but she hasn’t searched for it. There is a secret panel in one of the upstairs bedrooms which hides a large space in which Confederate soldiers, slaves and family valuables were concealed.

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