In 1963, Tom and Lucie sold Oaklawn to
George B. Thomson, a young man form Crowley, Louisiana and a
graduate of Duke University.
Gorge and his wife, Mary Beth, had been
searching for just the right antebellum plantation to call
home. They had spent years collecting a variety of pieces
from other estates ion hopes of a special place that could
benefit from their efforts. Also, as their three young boys
grew older, George and Mary Beth needed more room for the
youngsters to play.
That home was Oaklawn, and George and Mary
Beth, together with interior designer Ernest Nereaux of New
Iberia, set about refurbishing the manor. hey combined the
beauty of Oaklawn's past and the luxuries of present day.
First, they completely rewired the house
and installed air conditioning which would help reserve the
antiques in the home from Louisiana's intense heat and
humidity. To brighten the home's appearance, they
painted the exterior - a daunting, yet rewarding, task that
required 500 gallons of white paint. In addition, the
Thomsons redecorated and insulated the newly dressed rooms
with draperies lined with heavy cloth to keep out the hot
summer sun. Lastly, they added the beautiful old
furnishings that they had collected over the years.
The result was a stunning facelift on a
plantation worthy of great appreciation and admiration, as
evidenced by its renewed popularity with all those who
visited the historic home.
For the Thomson children Oaklawn was an
ideal childhood home, where they could roam the great
hallways and play on the grounds that stretched for acre
upon acre. The children took special pleasure in
camping out on weekends and playing with the many animals
inhabiting the home and land. Craig, Stephen and
George, Jr., often invited friends to spend time with them
at the manor, and the senior Thomsons gladly indulged their
children's desire to play host to the neighboring children.
The Thomsons proudly opened their home to
the public, as the owners before them had done, and closed
it only one day each year, on Christmas Day.
All was not easy for the new owners and
their Oaklawn, however. Just one year after the
Thomsons move in, hurricane Hilda truck hard, costing the
lives of 44 cedars along the property's Cedar Walk.
The Thomson family sought refuge in the manor, propping
furniture against the large wooden doors to prevent the
storm from blowing through the structure. As the
family waited out the storm, they could hear the chimneys
crumbling from the onslaught of the torrential hurricane
winds and rain. The Thomsons emerged unscathed, but
their lovely home once again needed repairs. The
following year, hurricane Betsy caused additional damage,
although no major losses resulted.
Despite the rough beginning, the Thomsons
soon enjoyed their life at Oaklawn Manor. Once of Mrs.
Thomson's fondest memories is the filming of two Hollywood
movies on the plantation. Paul Newman, the star of the
second movie, The Drowning Pool, proved to be a
delightful guest at the manor, gracing Mrs. Thomson with
gifts of crates of avocados ad limes flown in from
California especially for her.
The Thomsons were privileged to host other
famous people during their time at Oaklawn Manor.
Former Governor John McKeithen visited the Thomsons several
times at Oaklawn with Lieutenant Governor "Taddy" Aycock, a
In 1978, George and Mary Beth Thomson sold
Oaklawn to a group of Arkansas investors and moved into the
town of Franklin, where they currently reside.
Later, the investor group made many
changes to the estate, including dividing 40 acres of
Oaklawn land and developing a subdivision of large homes
along the property line. Oaklawn was bough and sold
again, until she was back on the market as a result of