Warmth, charm, and a wealth of antiques greet the many guests to this East Memphis home.
A pair of iron lampposts light the way to the handsome brick home’s front door.
photography by Andrea Zucker
If this particular home looks faintly familiar to many Memphians, perhaps the reason is that Janie and Bruce Hopkins have hosted countless events for their nonprofit causes, a long list that includes St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Bruce serves on the board), United Way of the Mid-South, The New Memphis Institute, Carnival Memphis, Arts Memphis, and the Junior League of Memphis. The house sparkles as well for other assorted gatherings, such as for Bruce’s team at First Tennessee Bank (where he is president, West Tennessee Region), as well as for reunions of his fellow Memphis University School alums. Janie is a realtor in Crye-Leike’s East Memphis office, so I imagine she has held a party or two for clients there as well. And since the Hopkins family includes three popular boys — Bond, Cooper, and Grant — the household was of course action central for countless teenagers over the years. In fact Bruce says the upstairs playroom sometimes held as many as 16 at one time watching games on the huge flatscreen TV. And I can’t forget to mention that Bruce and Janie hosted two family reunions at their house late this past year. For us mere mortals this seems to be a dizzying agenda, but with this family, well, it’s par for the course.
By now you are probably getting the picture that Bruce and Janie are warm and generous hosts. Their home in an East Memphis gated community lends itself to cozy and comfortable entertaining in front of a roaring fire, as well as to more formal seated dinners in their elegant, porcelain-filled dining room. I think their many friends and colleagues will agree that when you enter this house you can look forward to a great evening. Janie is a wonderful cook, and her baby BLTs and brown-edged cookies are justifiably famous. Husband Bruce holds sway at his well-stocked bar, which is filled with Carnival Memphis mementos dating from his days as King of Carnival and later president. He is proud to add that, in his Carnival roles, he started the Children’s Charity Initiative; since its inception, $1.6 million has been donated to local children’s charities.
They bought the handsome house in 2005 with the intention of scaling down in size from their previous larger home in the area to a zero-lot-line. That was the good news; however, in Bruce’s words, “the new place was a gut job.” Originally it had a master bedroom and bath downstairs, but only two bedrooms and one bath upstairs, so one of the first things that was done in the renovation process was to add an additional bedroom and bath upstairs. Also on the second floor, the Hopkinses pulled up the old carpeting, added hardwood floors, and put iron railings on the staircase. They also replaced an outside deck with a large keeping room adjacent to the kitchen, which greatly added to their living and entertaining space.
The Hopkinses have an extensive and eclectic collection of art with a number of pieces from well-known Memphis artists such as Veda Reed, Nancy Cheairs, Tom Donahue, and Janice Albertine, and other paintings and prints bought on their many trips both in this country and abroad. They also collect silver goblets wherever they go and have now built up a collection worthy of Downton Abbey (I had to mention this as both Janie and her beloved late Mother, Sue Adams, have long been Masterpiece devotees). The Hopkins household also features a collection of memorabilia related to the coronations of past kings and queens of England, while stacks of Hello magazines on the coffee table keep them abreast of the latest British gossip. However, do not be misled by all this talk of England; Bruce is a proud Scotsman, and he and the boys always sport their kilts during the holidays and for other special occasions.
Inherited antiques from both sides of their family fill the house, many of which belonged to Bruce’s grandmother, “Dearie,” from Wheeling, West Virginia. These pieces include exquisite heirloom porcelain, silver, crystal, portraits, and furniture. A magnificent Steinway piano was inherited from Janie’s Fort Worth, Texas, maternal grandparents, and three paintings came from her paternal grandmother, Mary Kirk Adams, a well-known artist from Corinth, Mississippi. And as Janie puts it, everything is “from people we love.”
Even though Bruce and Janie like to think their house is something they can maintain with relative ease, there’s still a lot to keep up with. This leads Janie to say (and I believe her) that she “cannot wait for the boys to get married because she plans to pass many of these antiques on to them so they can polish the silver.” Janie modestly says her house is filled with “organized stuff” and is quick to credit her sister, Pal Wilson, who now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with helping arrange all the shelves so attractively. Here’s another tell-it-like-it-is Janieism: “We have no decent mattresses, but we sure have goblets!” I say, “Lucky you.”
It must be added that husband Bruce’s good taste and eye for beauty have influenced the family’s esthetic, and their home’s décor is truly a joint effort. In particular, Bruce is in charge of the leafy, walled backyard which seems small and manageable to him by comparison with some of his past gardens. His specialty is planning and planting the containers filled with seasonal flowers, and all in all it is an elegant green space which landscaper Charles Turnage helps greatly to maintain.
Over the course of their marriage, the Hopkins family has lived in — and in many cases markedly improved — more than a few houses all over Memphis, from Central Gardens to Chickasaw Gardens to East Memphis’ Tuckahoe Road. Bruce and Janie agree that they are “here to stay” in their current home. However, if I were a betting person, I would never bet against the possibility of another move sometime down the road!
Nonetheless, I think we can all chime in that this one is a keeper.
Anne Cunningham O’Neill is the arts & lifestyle editor of memphis magazine.