The Barkman House is a remarkable demonstration of two mid-nineteenth-century architectural styles: Greek and Gothic revivals. There is no documentary confirmation that builder Madison Griffin designed the house, but his involvement is suggested by the builder’s obvious knowledge of historic styles (see CL6). Construction was interrupted by the Civil War. A legend, probably true, relates that a large stack of lumber at the Barkman site was to be used for the house’s construction, but before construction could resume, the Confederates’ need for wood to build caskets in which to bury their dead quickly depleted the stock of neglected lumber; the caskets were built on the Barkman site. Finishing touches on the house were delayed until 1870. Barkman was the son of landowner Jacob Barkman, who had opened river traffic for his cotton trade, and James carried on the father’s business and mercantile store.
The house is a five-bay, two-room-deep, two-story, double-pile house, with a two-story gallery. The main entrance has the customary sidelights and transom, whereas the doors that connect the second floor with the gallery have sidelights but lack a transom. These doors and the facade windows are spanned by lintels perforated with pointed Victorian details, giving them a mild Gothic appearance. This two-story Gothic-influenced gallery creates a surprising companion to the Greek Revival style of the main house, but together they form a pleasing, harmonious relationship, one of the few such combinations in the state. Deep roof overhangs encircle the main house and the two-story gallery. Henderson State University purchased the house in the 1970s and renovated it in 1989 as offices for alumni services.