Sadler House

The Sadler House is one of eight historic homes in Tuskegee, Alabama that were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as part of the North Main Street Historic District. The house was built in 1895 for Charles W. Hare. The NRHP nomination form describes the home as a two-story, Queen Anne-style frame house with a corner turret, a hipped roof, and extended cross gables. An original one-story porch that once surrounded two sides of the house has been replaced with two small one-story Neoclassical columned porches. The house has been meticulously restored both inside and out in the 1980s. The interior includes all original woodwork, an unusual stairway with a circular landing at the first-floor level, original very early electric light fixtures, and all original pine flooring. All windows are original including single panes, diamond glazing, and stained-glass panels.

Sadler House
Portrait of Charles W. Hare, trustee at Tuskegee College and editor of the Tuskegee News, 1915.

Charles Woodrolph Hare was born on September 20, 1857. By the 1890s, he was editor of The Chilton View and an established attorney and political figure in Macon County. In 1895, Hare moved to Tuskegee after he purchased The Tuskegee News. He became the president of the Screws Monument Association in 1913 after publishing a suggestion that Alabama editors should honor the late William Wallace Screws, a confederate soldier, Secretary of State for Alabama, and editor for the Montgomery Advisor. At the time of Hare’s death in May 1930, he had served two terms as a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee, was assistant director of munitions during World War I, and served as director of sales for the state’s war department.

Sadler House
C. W. Hare Residence on a vintage postcard of Tuskegee, Alabama.

According to the NRHP nomination form, the house was meticulously restored both inside and out in the 1970s. When it was written in 1985, the house was owned by James Harvey Sadler who was appointed by then-Governor George Wallace as sheriff of Macon County in 1964 to complete Preston Hornsby’s term after he resigned to become a probate judge. Harvey Sadler was a businessman having owned Sadler’s Grocery & Market and the Sadler Oil Company. He was also Wallace’s campaign chairman in Macon County in 1962.

Alabama Historical Commission, July 1984
Sadler House 2
Alabama Historical Commission, July 1984

Not long after becoming sheriff, Harvey Sadler and Tuskegee were thrust into the national spotlight. On January 3, 1966, a 21-year-old black Tuskegee Institute student named Samuel Younge Jr. stopped at a gas station to use the restroom. The gas station attendant, 67-year-old Marvin Segrest refused him access as it was for whites only which led to an argument. Numerous witnesses said that Younge approached Segrest asking to use the restroom who replied by telling him he could use the restroom around the back. Younge stated he wasn’t going to use the restroom in the back and wanted to use the one in the station. Segrest pulled out a revolver and told him to leave and the two began yelling profanities at each other. At some point, Younge retrieved a golf club from one of the witnesses’ bags. Segrest fired a shot from about 80 feet away but missed. Younge ran down an alleyway when another gunshot was heard, and he fell to the ground. The autopsy report stated that Samuel Younge Jr. was shot in the face.

Sheriff Sadler framed the case as a “dispute” rather than “one of these civil rights cases.” After nearly 2,000 Tuskegee students and faculty members demonstrated on the town square, whose centerpiece is a Confederate memorial, was Marvin Segrest arrested and charged with second-degree murder. His attorney, as well as Sheriff Sadler, petitioned to have the trial moved to the adjacent Lee County which was overwhelmingly white. Judge L. J. Tyner approved the change of venue, and an all-white jury was selected for the trial in Opelika in December 1966.

During the trial, Segrest gave a three-hour testimony telling the court he had problems with the victim on several occasions. On one occasion, the victim did not pay enough for his gas. The subject stated that when he asked the victim for additional money, the victim threw some money on the ground and said, “There’s the goddamn money. You can kiss my goddamn ass.” On another occasion, the station did not have the kind of gas that the victim wanted. The victim became angry upon hearing this, told the subject that he was old, and threatened the subject with physical harm. His defense attorney argued that the golf club was seen as a potential weapon and called the shooting an “unfortunate accident.” Prosecutor Tom Young noted that 80 feet were between the two men, adding “I’ve never seen any kind of golf stick that has the range of a .38 pistol.”

After deliberating for only 71 minutes, the jury acquitted Marvin Segrest of murder. In response, Tuskegee students rioted in the city’s downtown, hurling rocks and bricks through the windows of white-owned businesses. Leaves and trash were set ablaze in the city square and black paint was poured over a Confederate monument in protest. The FBI later reviewed the case in 2008 as part of the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act of 2007 but the case was closed as Segrest had died in 1986. The case marked the beginning of the end for local white power. Soon after the trial, Lucius Amerson, a 32-year-old black man, a former paratrooper, and a Korean War Veteran, was elected sheriff of Macon County defeating Sheriff Sadler and becoming the first Black sheriff in the South after Reconstruction. Many within the community were upset with the outcome. Some whites thought Amerson’s biggest threats were other Blacks. Civil rights leader and city councilman Reverend K. L. Buford spoke out against Amerson as well as saying Sadler should have been reelected. Buford later resigned after much pushback from the Black community. Although the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Sadler House has sat vacant for many years.

Sadler House
The Sadler House in January 2023

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Sadler House

Sadler House

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The Sadler House covered by foliage in September 2019.
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Queen Anne
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Queen Anne
Sadler House
Queen Anne
Sadler House

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10 comments

  1. This is a really interesting project and a magnificent structure, one can only speculate as to why it has been relegated to historical abandonment. Thank you for the article; if possible, it would be helpful to the reader to include the city and state of the property being discussed. Thank you, Sir!

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  2. I would like to see the property in the flesh and perhaps purchase and live there in it where is it and who do i contact thanks

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  3. The homes the city owns, are there any plans to turn those properties into revenue properties? They could be a great money maker with hopefully not that much mor investment. I think some of our Alabama historical homes can actually get a group of volunteers to learn the history and once it becomes a money-maker maybe the volunteers can get the jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This particular house and others nearby are looked after by a local preservation group. Locals would like to see something done with them too. However, many of these homes are in areas where there is little to zero return on investment, add in a poor school system and high crime rates, people choose to look elsewhere.

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  4. So many of the beautiful old homes across America are in high crime areas where no one with the means to restore and maintain such a house wants to live. It’s just a fact of life. The neighborhoods when these old jewels exist are old neighborhoods and usually very impoverished. I gave up on my dream of restoring an old Victorian decades ago for that very reason.

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