The Vickers House (c.1870) is a story-and-a-half frame late Greek Revival residence located in the small rural community of Alto. Although there has been a rear addition, the house itself has been little altered over the years. The Vickers House is constructed with a pegged frame; however, much of the actual structure is board and batten.
The predominant wood is cypress. The plan features a central hall with two rooms on each side. An unusual stair ascends from the rear of the hall to the finished garret. The staircase is unusual because it features a continuous wall of tongue and groove boards below the Banister rail. The front rooms communicate with the gallery by means of six over six windows with jib doors.
Originally there was no rear gallery; the house just ended with a clapboard wall. Most of the walls and ceilings in the house are exposed board and batten, including the front gallery. The exceptions, of courseware the exterior walls on the sides and rear. Boards average about twelve to thirteen inches while battens average about four inches.
The front gallery has six Tuscan pillars surmounted by a full entablature. At each end of the front wall is a pilaster echoing the columns. The facade has five openings, each of which is framed in a Tuscan aedicule motif. This style is echoed on the four mantels.
An unusual feature of the house is its numerous shallow pointed arches. These occur in the lower third of the front window friezes and in a similar position in two of the four mantels. Pointed arches also occur in the three front dormers. Each dormer has a casement window and a decoratively cut vergeboard gable, both of which appear to be original, contrary to what one might think.
The house has three additional elements worthy of note:
- The two front rooms feature a chair rail with a dado formed of a single eighteen-inch plank.
- The front door transom and sidelights retain their original red and green stained glass panes.
- Virtually all of the interior woodwork (mantels, doors, etc..) is grained to resemble oak.
The Vickers House is locally significant in the area of architecture because it is easily the most important historic building known to exist in Richland Parish, no survey exists for the parish, but the State Historic Preservation Office staff is familiar with the area, having tried on and off for several years to find and register eligible properties. (Until recently Richland was the only parish without a register listing.)
The parish’s patrimony is characterized almost entirely by ordinary bungalows, plain cottages, and pedestrian commercial buildings. The only known exceptions are two early twentieth-century bank buildings and the Vickers House. Taken within this context, the Vickers House is of immense architectural importance on the local level. It is the parish’s only intact example of the Greek Revival style. (The only other example is a very plain, greatly altered country Greek Revival church.) The Vickers House is also a noteworthy Greek Revival residence for reasons other than rarity. Its impressive front gallery, aedicule motif fenestration, false graining, and overall intactness would establish it as an important example in any parish in northern Louisiana, and most certainly in Richland Parish.
Sometime after the house was built, a partial rear gallery was added. Later (c.1930) a rear kitchen wing was added. More recently, a bathroom has been installed, the crumbling chimneys have been cut off at the roofline, and the front gallery floor has been replaced in kind as part of the current rehabilitation project. The wing is not visible from the front and the other changes are minor; hence, in our opinion, there is no question of integrity loss.
H.F. Vickers – Obituary
Richland Beacon, Rayville, Louisiana
18 May 1889, Sat • Page 2
…It will be remembered that we published the fact of the paralytic stroke of the subject of this notice a year ago. Being a man of great strength, he partially rallied from the effects of the disease, and having such great will power, he battled against fate.
A few weeks ago we heard he was very sick; had pneumonia, accompanied by this paralytical effection. Satisfied then, that dissolution was inevitable at no distant day and feeling a great interest in the longevity of this good man, we feared for the worst, and for several days we enquired of everyone passing as to the condition of his health.
One would say he is not doing well, while another would say he is much better; yet we were prepared to hear at any time of his death, which occurred just as the shades of night were casting their darkness upon the earth, on Sunday, May 12th, 1889.
To attempt to describe the many good deeds of this good man would be impossible. That he had his faults none will deny, but his acts of kindness overbalanced all his shortcomings. As to his Christianity, we never knew one that we had more confidence in than Capt. Vickers. A consistent member of the Baptist church for many years, zealous and faithful.
With all the vicissitudes and disappointments of life, he never faltered in his conduct as a Christian. Few men lie down in death that leave brighter evidence of Divine acceptance than the subject of this notice. For a time he was a zealous member of the Masonic lodge at this place, but the cares of life together with all other fraternal relations caused him to cease his visits to the lodge of late years.
Hon. H. F. Vickers was a faithful K. of P. and also a member of the A. L. of H., in both of which he leaves is for his family policies of insurance; in all, the former $3000 and in the latter a $5000. Deceased married a Miss Boughton, the mother of Mrs. Hemler, the only child of the first marriage.
After the death of his first wife, he was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Miss L. Virginia Riley, who survives him, to which union is two daughters aged 15 and 11 years.
We sympathize with the bereaved widow and orphans, for so good a man could scarcely be otherwise than an affectionate husband and devoted a father. Hon. H. F. Vickers was at one time a member of the Legislature from Richland parish. He was charitable and generous to a fault. He was slow to forsake an old friend for b a new one. He had the will to resist the temptations so common in our country and to the last held out in his temperate habits. He was certainly an exception to the general rule in this particular.
The writer became acquainted with Capt. Vickers in 1865 and from that time (nearly 24 years) always found him the same consistent Christian gentleman.
Would that we were capable of portraying the many noble traits of this man’s character. He has gone to his reward, and the vacancy caused by the death of this man will be hard acts to fill in the community of which he was so worthy a member.
Since writing the foregoing, we, in ad company with several members of the rage lodges, K. of P. and A. L. of H., drove down to assist in the last sad rites of the burial of our deceased that brother. Arriving at Alto about 9 a.m., we could see the people coming in from every direction, and by 10 a.m. there must have been over 500 persons attending the funeral.
The Farmers’ Union were out to assist the two lodges. The funeral service of the P. P. were read by Stephen S. Faulk, Esq., the A. L. of H. had only three or four members outside of the K. of P. order, so they simply deposited a badge upon the coffin. The burial ceremony of the Farmers Union was ready by L.M. After this Rev. T.N. Rhymes made a few appropriate remarks at the grave and engaged in prayer. This was the largest funeral procession we ever attended in the country and goes to show the esteem was held in by this community.
We never attended a funeral where such sorrow was depicted in every countenance. The tears trickled down the cheeks of strong men, and the little sunday school children wept bitterly.Richland Beacon, Rayville, Louisiana
18 May 1889, Sat • Page 2