Oakleigh is one of Mobile's most historic houses. It was built in 1833 and became a museum in 1955.
The house was built by James Roper. He borrowed $20,000 from the government to buy the property, build the house, purchase slaves and farm equipment. He was a cotton farmer, and also owned a brick company.
I have always been interested in the history of these old homes, especially the history with the Civil War. Most plantations have a link to the Civil War. During the war so many plantations, homes and buildings were burned down. If they were saved, there was a reason. Example, Sturdivant Hall in Selma, Alabama was not burned because the Union didn't want to risk burning down the neighbor's plantation. That neighbor happened to be MarthaTodd, half sister to Mary Todd Lincoln (Abraham Lincoln's wife).
In 1851 Alfred Irwin purchased Oakleigh. During the Civil War his wife protected the home by hanging a Union Jack over the front rail of the balcony to proclaim their property a neutral territory. Both of her sons were currently fighting for the Confederacy in the war.
I'm not sure how these bricks got into this tree....but I thought it was pretty neat. I have heard of that during various wars throughout history, people would encase their valuables in bricks. Somehow, this tree engulfed these bricks and now bees have made it their home.
When you enter the home, all the furnishings and draperies are very ornate. Mr. Roper did a lot of entertaining at this home.
Above the piano is a painting of Madame Octavia Walton Le Vert. She was a well known socialite of the day who had traveled to Europe numerous times. During her travels in Europe she was presented to the Pope, to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and to Napoleon and Eugenie. Four out of six homes on this tour had paintings of Madame Le Vert featured. It was the "in" thing to have a painting of her.
In Europe during this time period, it was very trendy to have your hands or arms cast in marble. Of course Madame Le Vert's mother had to have her childs arm cast in marble as well. The marble cast of her arm is owned by one of the persons on the tour of homes. Unfortunately his home was not one that could be photographed.
The piano was hand made by a craftsman in Mobile.
The keys are made of oyster shells from Mobile Bay. How cool is that!!!!
Here is our Oakleigh Belle tour guide showing us the gasolier.
Another painting of Madame Le Vert
Here is where it gets interesting....
This was the master bedroom. Notice the round shadow box hanging above the headboard.
After the Civil War, soldiers returned home, scarred and broken. They participated in an activity called "hair therapy". Women of the time would save the hair from their brushes and put it in jars just for this purpose. The soldiers would take the hair and make jewelry and various other pieces from the hair.
This is a broach made from hair by a confederate soldier. The detail on this blew my mind. It is kind of gross and weird, but at the same time LOOK at the detail! Insane!!!! I don't think that would be considered therapy...that it way to tedious for me.
Back to the shadow box over the bed...
It contains an WREATH made entirely of human hair. I couldn't get a good shot of it because the bed was at an angle and I was pretty sure my Oakleigh Belle didn't want me sitting on the bed to get a photo.
These dolls were used to sell children's and women's clothes. The salesmen would bring them around in trunks with clothes and accessories. When the clothes were no longer being carried, some lucky child would get the trunk, clothes and doll.
China setting in the dining room
I loved the dining room furniture. It is similar to the piece I just bought.
I will show it off to ya'll when I get in my house.
There were several cases full of Mardi Gras memorabilia.
Hope ya'll enjoyed your tour of Oakleigh.
Tomorrow I will share my favorite home with ya'll!!! You don't want to miss it....trust me!!!!
See ya'll later