Tuscumbia’s big snow Part I

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In this part of the country the winter stuff we get is usually in the form of freezing rain, sleet with just a little snow thrown in to wet our appetite to the point we slightly envy our northern neighbors.  Our last real big snow was in 1963 when we had 18 inches.  Since then we’ve had mostly ice storms and an occasional inch or two that was gone when the temperature went back up in the seventies the next day.

The week of January 9th a big snow storm anywhere from 5 to 14 inches was predicted. The snow started Sunday evening around 8 and continued all night and I woke up to 10 inches in my front yard.  The snow on the ground lasted for over a week in most places.  Each day after work all week, I would go home through down town Tuscumbia and would spend what little daylight was left taking pictures of some of the historical sites in town. Some of the pictures are a little on the dark side due to the arriving darkness. I’ll be doing two posts of pictures. Ivy Green the home of Helen Keller wasn’t opened until the next weekend and only had a little snow left.  Belle Mont on the other hand was still snowed in.  I had to put my truck in 4 wheel drive while driving up to it.

The information following was taken from the Historical Tuscumbia Walking & Driving Tour pamphlet published by the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau.

Stage coach stop — thought to be from 1816 and built by the Michael Dickson family who were the first white settlers at Coldwater now known as Tuscumbia. It’s located on Dickson Street across from the Police/Fire Departments.

ST. John’s Episcopal Church — First occupied in 1852, St. John’s Church is typical of the small wooden “Carpenter’s Gothic” churches popular among

American Episcopal congregations during the middle of the 19th century and is the oldest such structure still standing in Alabama. Union troops stabled their horses in this church during occupation of the town in the 1860’s Damaged in 1874 by a tornado, the building was strengthened by iron rods and later by the addition of concrete buttresses.

Colbert County Courthouse — construction of the courthouse was begun in 1881.  In 1908 a fire gutted the building and it was rebuilt using the original walls. The dome, porticoes and columns were added at this time.

Ivy Green — Birthplace of Helen Keller.  The house, built c.1820-1830 by Helen Keller’s grandparents David and Mary Fairfax Moore Keller (related to Robert E. Lee and a direct descendent of Virginia’s early colonial governor, Alexander Spotswood, who built the Governor’s Palace at Williamsburg, Va. The name of the house came from the abundance of  English Ivy which once covered the grounds.

Bell-Prout House –. thought to be one of Tuscumbia’s oldest houses circa. 1826. Alterations in the 1900s and a recently added columned portico conceal a simple three-bay dwelling, Abram Bell was the first owner.

Congressman Edward B. Almon House — This gabled Victorian house features stained glass windows, service stairs as well as an front staircase, and a system of bells to call servants from the various rooms of the home. It was built in 1888 by Edward B. Almon who served in the U. S. House of Representatives. He was partly instrumental in the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Counts House – also know as Memory Farm. This house dated from the antebellum period when it originally consisted of three rooms.  The Counts family who purchased the home in 1870  made additions to the house including the porch.

Tuscumbia Depot –Built in 1888, this brick building marks the site of the first railroad west of the Alleghenies, which was completed in 1832. It connected town with the Tennessee River at Tuscumbia Landing and utilized a horse-drawn car.

Felix Grundy Norman House — It was built in the 1830s and owned by Felix Grundy Norman, an attorney, served as a state legislator and in the Order of Masons.

Lesley Temple CME Church — Lesley Temple Christian Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1880 by Rev. Lesley.  The church was started in 1901 and was called the Black Paper Church because for several years it was covered with black building paper while being built as funds permitted.

Stonecroft — name comes from its high limestone foundation walls which enclosed a basement dining room and kitchen. James W. Rhea built the house around 1825. He operated the Tuscumbia Inn and was also a merchant.

Thompson House – Queen Ann Victorian structure built during the area’s economy boom which occurred in 1890s.

Gov. Robert Burns Lindsay House — this was the home of Gov. Robert Burns Lindsay  and his wife, Sarah M. Winston Lindsay (daughter of William Winston). Daughter Maud Lindsay was born here. She opened and operated the first free kindergarten in the state of Alabama.

William Cooper House — William Cooper, a noted Alabama jurist and legislator lived in the house in the 1830s. He was a friend and advisor to the Chickasaws prior to their removal to the West. They called him Oaliska, which meant “double eyes”, because he wore glasses.

William Reese Julian House — built at Cherokee in 1819 and moved in

the 1840’s to Tuscumbia Landing on the Tennessee River, then pulled by oxen to its present location.  Confederate Lt. Col. William Reese Julian commanded Julian’s Battalion under Roddey at the Battle of Day’s Gap. He was the first Sheriff of Colbert County.

Philip G Godley House — this small brick house dates from around 1824. It was thought to be built by Thomas Limerick, who was the first mayor of Tuscumbia. Philip G. Godley was a merchant and served as mayor of the town at the time of incorporation in 1821.  The long gingerbread porch is not original to the house.

Cooper-Rand —   Samuel Jones House circa 1832 house is one of Tuscumbia’s most notable Federal-period houses. I had the pleasure of visiting this home with one of the trolley tours last summer.  It’s a grand home and the homes beautiful architecture is being hid by rather large mushroom shaped evergreens.

Nieman-Moss House — George T. Nieman built the house around 1890.

McReynolds’ House  — this two-story Victorian dwelling was built in the 1880s by Mary Hogun McReynolds, widow of Robert Reynolds after their plantation home, located east of town was burned by the Union.


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3 Responses to Tuscumbia’s big snow Part I

  1. Phillip says:

    Wonderful photos! Tuscumbia has the prettiest architecture and old homes.

  2. Thanks, I’m working on a second post. In going around, I noticed a few old homes which used to be grand, I’m thinking about doing these are in peril post. Few folks may get mad at me.

  3. Maggie Fisher Forbus says:

    These are stunning pictures! It brings back a lot of memories of Tuscumbia.

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