This historic Neoclassical house, referred to as the Jones home, was built circa 1890 for Rebecca Erwin & Madison Jones. Jr., the granddaughter of John Erwin. Erwin, who was a prominent lawyer and politician, built his two-story Greek Revival antebellum home known as Glencairn in 1837 in Greensboro, which is often referred to as the Monticello of the Canebrake. Although the Jones house was constructed roughly 50-60 years later, many similar architectural details of Glencairn can be found inside such as the interior staircase configuration, paneled doors, bullseye trim, and the double-tiered gabled portico.
The original floorplan was four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs with a 12-foot-wide hallway down the middle of the house. Originally, the house had no bathrooms or a kitchen. The original kitchen was outdoors some distance from the house and the bathroom was an outhouse. There is a two-story veranda porch across the front, with hand-planed Doric columns on each floor. There is also a full attic.
During the Great Depression, the house went through a renovation, four bathrooms were added, and as well as an indoor kitchen on to the back of the house. The upstairs rooms were reconfigured into apartments to make room for boarders and relatives who had no money. One tenant lived upstairs in the house until she died in the 1950s. The attic space was also converted into an apartment, electricity and a kitchen were added. A staircase was added to the back porch to access the attic apartment. In the 1930s, Rebecca’s daughter, Margaret, fell ill and was admitted to Selma Hospital. After she was discharged she returned to her mother’s home so she could care for her. Once her condition took a turn for the worse, her husband was summoned to her bedside where she ultimately passed away at the young age of 42. Her mother died two years later.
In the late 1980s, a granddaughter of Rebecca Erwin Jones sold the property to a retired anthropologist named Anne who worked as the curator of a local historical site. Before the sale, both parties came to a verbal agreement regarding the restoration of the old Jones home. The Jones family, realizing the scope of work required, gave Anne a large break in the purchase price for the house after she promised to do certain things within specific time frames. As the years began to pass, they realized the house was never going to be restored and felt taken and betrayed, not to mention the pain of watching their family home being allowed to slowly decay. The Jones family was livid. After the death of Rebecca’s granddaughter, the remaining family members decided to no longer live in the area. With a brief mention of her name, a neighbor quickly relives going in the house in the 1990s and spoke of the filth and how much was packed inside the house even then.
In the early 2000s, Anne was relieved of her duties at the historic state-owned property after a new director noticed the house and grounds were not being properly maintained. Coworkers mentioned Anne would not allow anyone to even lift a spoonful of dirt. Tree limbs were blocking the driveway so tour buses could not drive through. There were reports she even took a brand new state-owned lawnmower to her house to cut her grass. Once Anne was let go from her position, she became a recluse. She was never seen around town. Several local townspeople that I interviewed who knew her well said that they have not seen or heard from her in roughly fifteen years, although, ironically she was spotted at an art gallery downtown at the end of last year. While researching, I discovered Anne had a website where she spent the majority of her time writing about whatever came to mind. Most of the entries talk about gardening, anthropology, and even her historic home. At the time of her death, Anne had amassed an astounding 20,000 entries and over 5 million views on her website forum.
In January 2021, the mailman noticed the mail was piling up inside of her mailbox and contacted the police to do a welfare check. The local authorities discovered Anne deceased in her backyard. She was 80-years-old. According to police reports, at the time of her death, the house had no working air-conditioning or heat, no working plumbing, and electricity in only one room. Since Anne had no will and no family in Alabama, the property has remained abandoned. The nearest family is across the country and has no interest in the property. A court appointed attorney is conducting the sale of the home. If you are interested in purchasing this property at a modest price, please contact me.
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