Saturday, February 4, 2023

Shadowlawn Owned by Neilson Family, Occupied by Union Troops

Shadowland was built around 1857.

This impressive home was built around 1857 by W.S. Neilson, founder of Neilson’s on the Square.

Called Shadowlawn, located at 712 South 11th Street is a large wood-frame vernacular Greek Revival with two major façades arranged in an L-shape, each resembling an I-house, with monumental tetrastyle porticos on each of the two façades.

During the Civil War “Shadowlawn” hosted uninvited Union troops several times. The legend of a small black boy being shot from a cedar tree on the front lawn by Union troops is retold by novelist Stark Young in So Red the Rose.
The house stayed in the Neilson family for more than 70 years before becoming home to Dr. John Culley. It has been linked to William Faulkner’s story “A Rose for Emily.” Today “Shadowlawn” and Neilson’s Department Store are both owned by the Will Lewis family of Oxford. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History received a preservation easement on this house on Dec. 7, 2001.
The Neilson-Culley-Lewis House, as part of the South Lamar Historic District, was declared a National Historic Place on March 10, 2009.
John Cofield is a writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer Jack Cofield. His grandfather, Col. J.R Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well.
Contact John at