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Category: furniture

Lakeport Plantation Receives Donation of Original Furniture


For immediate release:

2/17/2011

The Lakeport Plantation, on February 17, 2011,  received a donation of two pieces of Lakeport’s original furniture and a Johnson family doll.  The artifacts, an antebellum washstand, a carved chair, and a family doll that survived the 1927 flood in Greenville, Mississippi, are the gift of Glenn Smith of San Rafael, California in memory of his wife Verlinda Catherine Rose (Linnie).  Lakeport Planation Assistant Director, Blake Wintory, stated “We appreciate the Smith and Rose families for giving these important historical pieces back to Lakeport. These pieces have not been in the house for over 80 years; they are essential elements for telling the story of the plantation.”

The artifacts have gone across the county from Lakeport to Greenville to Memphis, and then onto California and Washington as the Johnson family moved west.  Linnie Rose acquired the pieces from her mother,  Catherine Verlinda Johnson Rose, who received them from her father, Dr. Victor Johnson.  Victor, the youngest son of Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson, was the last Johnson to live at Lakeport.  He and his family moved to Greenville, Mississippi in 1917.  Ten years later, following the flood of 1927, the family moved to Memphis.   In 2008, Sharon Rose, Linnie’s sister, donated a washstand that is similar the washstand received today.  Underneath the gray marble top is a shipping label that reads, “L.J. Lakeport, Ark.”  Sharon remembers both wash stands being in her family’s home.  She stated “I’m so happy Glenn donated those items to Lakeport; it’s where they belong.”
The Lakeport Plantation house is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site.   Built for Lycurgus and Lydia Johnson in 1859, the Greek Revival home is one of Arkansas’ premiere historic structures and is now the only remaining antebellum plantation home in Arkansas on the Mississippi River.  The Johnson family retained ownership of the house until 1927, when the Chicot County plantation was purchased by Sam Epstein.  The house was added to the National Register in 1974 and was gifted to Arkansas State University in 2001 by the Sam Epstein Angel Family.  Following a massive restoration effort, the home opened to the public on September 28, 2007.





Lakeport’s Piano Returns

Lakeport’s original piano, a ca. 1869 J.A. Gray square grand and centerpiece of entertaining during the post-war era, returned to the house on the evening of June 14th. The piano was donated back to Lakeport by the Epstein-Angel family after spending roughly the last 60 years in storage at the Epstein Cotton Gin in Lake Village. Bradshaw Piano Services of Conway, Arkansas restored the piano.


The piano first shows up on the Johnson’s county taxes in 1870. Before that date, there likely was no piano in the house. As the Johnson’s moved into the house in 1860, they were still decorating, until the war interrupted their plans. We know much of the interior paintwork was not complete by the start of the War; it is also likely that the Johnsons were not able to completely furnish the home until after the war.

Shortly after the war, Amanda Worthington (1845-1896) in an August 25, 1865 diary entry, did describe music during her visit to Lakeport, but no piano. At “Aunt Lydia’s” house, she says, we “spent a very pleasant evening, danced several sets, talked and had music from several sources–we had a nice supper too.” At the nearby home of Lycurgus’s father and mother, Amanda does mention their piano: “we would run out of conversation in the daytime and after every body had played on the piano we would be at a loss what to do…Linnie & Fanny Davis both played splendidly on the piano and we made them play a great deal. ” (Worthington 2008 : 92)

Tom DeBlack has noted, the Johnsons began to get their financial feet back around 1870 making Lycurgus again “leading planter” in Chicot County. As the piano was added to the taxable property, so was a gold watch and a pleasure carriage (DeBlack 2002: 32).

Annie Taylor Worthington (1875-1963), daughter of Mary Jane Johnson and Isaac M. Worthington,
Annie Taylor Worthington, ca. 1880
Jr., began learning the piano during the time she lived at Lakeport–1876-1888. Her granddaughter, Annie Paden, remembers her playing piano beautifully, playing for her own pleasure” and at “weddings and special occasions throughout her adult life.”

The 1500 lb piano was likely left in the house in 1917, when Victor Johnson and his family moved to Greenville, Mississippi. There it stayed until the fall of 1950, when Alvin Ford and his family moved into the home. It was then moved to the Epstein Gin and put in storage.

When Lakeport received the piano, it had been sitting on its side for 60 years; rodents had chewed on some of the wood; the legs were detached with some damage; the piano’s lid was completely split; strings were broken, and the piano’s rosewood finish was unrecognizable.

Bradshaw Piano Services of Conway was selected to do a museum quality restoration of the piano. Barry and Phyllis Bradshaw have over 75 years of combined work in the piano restoration and quality control. Bradshaw Piano disassembled the piano, replaced missing rosewood veneer, cleaned and re-plated hardware, repaired damaged legs, restrung the piano, replaced blue steel tuning pins…(the list goes on)..,and restored the rosewood finish (matching the faux rosewood doors in the home).

We are excited to have the piano back at Lakeport. It is beautifully restored and again a centerpiece in the home. We hope you come out to see it.


P.S. Our next event will be Barry Bradshaw talking about restoring the piano. Time and Date still to be determined.



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