This historic Neoclassical house, referred to as the Jones House, was built circa 1890 for Rebecca Frances Erwin Jones, the granddaughter of Alabama State Senator John Erwin Jr., and her husband Madison Jones, Jr. John Erwin Jr., a prominent lawyer and Democratic politician, built his two-story Greek Revival antebellum home known as Glencairn, often referred to as the Monticello of the Canebrake, in 1837 in Greensboro.
John Erwin Jr. relocated to Alabama in 1818 from Pendleton County, Virginia and quickly amassed extensive land holdings and property in Alabama’s Blackbelt region. Erwin was elected as Greene County’s representative in the Alabama Senate in 1831, chosen as president pro tempore the next year. He went on to serve in the lower house in 1836, 1837, and 1842, as well as being a Congressional candidate in 1845 and 1851 but was closely defeated in both races. He was heavily involved in the 1852 and 1860 Democratic National Conventions. On December 10, 1860, John Erwin Jr. died unexpectedly at Glencairn after returning from a Grand Tour abroad. At the time of his death, he owned 169 slaves and was a leader in the secession movement that lead to the formation of the Confederate States of America.
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 of the Jones House was four rooms upstairs and four rooms downstairs with a 12-foot-wide hallway down the middle of the house. Originally, the home 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 Jones House went through a renovation, four bathrooms and an indoor kitchen were added. 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 King Jones Brown, fell ill and was admitted to Selma Hospital. After she was discharged, she returned to the Jones House so her mother could care for her. Once her condition took a turn for the worse, her husband Winston E. Brown a prominent Selma attorney, was summoned to her bedside where she ultimately passed away at the young age of 42 in 1934. Her mother, Rebecca Erwin Jones, died two years later in 1936.
In the late 1980s, a granddaughter of Rebecca Erwin Jones sold the property to Gloria, a retired anthropologist 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 House. The Jones family, realizing the scope of work required, gave Gloria 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 packed the house had become.
In the early 2000s, Gloria 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 Gloria 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 Gloria was let go from her state position, neighbors say she became somewhat of a recluse and was rarely seen around town. Several locals that I interviewed for this blog who knew her well said that they have not seen or heard from her in roughly fifteen years, although ironically, she was spotted at a local art gallery at the end of 2020. While researching, I discovered Gloria had a website where she spent the majority of her time writing about gardening, anthropology, and even her historic home. By 2021, she amassed an astounding 20,000 entries and over 5 million views on her forum.
In January 2021, the mailman noticed Gloria’s mailbox was full and contacted police for a welfare check. Sadly, local authorities discovered 80-year-old Gloria deceased in her backyard. 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 Gloria had no will and her remaining family lives across the country, the property has sat abandoned. A court appointed attorney is conducting the sale of the home and has several interested parties. Perhaps someday, the Jones House will receive the restoration it has long deserved.
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Hi can you please send us the images for this story today?
We’d love to do this one for tomorrow first thing.
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This looks like my great great aunt’s house in Selma, where I remember visiting as a small child in the 1970’s. My memories are fuzzy but I believe she lived on one of the avenues near Live Oak cemetery. I was told she was a nurse, and later wife, to a wealthy man named Park. She inherited his home and lived there until her death in the late 1970’s. Could this be the same house?
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It is not the same house.
Another great find. Wow…a sad chapter. Thanks for posting. Enjoyed it.
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This not the whole story.She was my Aunt.Most of her family lives in Michigan..She left Michigan at 17.She was extremely intelligent.She Attended many universities,many Degrees! She didn’t stay in contact with us for many years.The last 10 years she was in contact with all of us.She hired a contractor to do rentavations.They ripped everything apart and left.She never trusted a builder again.This house was her dream! A scammer builder crushed her dream!
She was very fragile, but a sweet lady who loved two dogs. She felt so lonely and didn’t trust anybody after her husband died long time ago before her. I tried to explore her abandoned house for photographs and maybe asking for salvaged stuff through courthouse, never expected she was there living in the poor condition of her house. I provided her some blankets and some dry foods including dog food for her and her dogs. Very sorry for your loss! Two dogs were taken care of, according to somebody. Is her former house already demolished?
What an odd tale, and a mess to clear out.
Such a shame to see a beautiful home go to waste like that.
oml, how’d the bath tub flip upside down XD But it’s kinda sad that the owner didn’t have any other family
Ohhh my!!! Extremely sad! Shockingly heartbreaking! I stopped by there twice, but never went inside, and I dropped some dog food, blankets and a small Christmas tree last year. My heart’s broken that I learned of her death, and she didn’t age badly @ 78 or 79! Pretty hair, but not neat, and she had her beautiful baby blue eyes, looking roughly sad! The photos are hauntingly shocked!!! Hopefully the cats and two dogs are in good hands! Rest In Peace with love, Anne!
The dogs were removed the day of her death by police and taken to the local shelter. They are probably rehomed by now. The cats remained for several weeks. After I went by, I called a friend who contacted the local animal shelter. The shelter went back and set traps and caught 5 cats and was able to rehome 4 of the 5.
Wonderful!!! Thank you for being a caring animal lover! Um, are you aware of where Anne’s resting @? Speaking of her burial. By the way, you’re a very fantastic photographer and author as well! Would love to buy one! Keep up your awesome work, be very safe always!!!
Can you get me more information about this house I would love to be able to bring it back to life
It sounds like Anne was a beautiful soul I would like to honor her as well
What a sad story! This was such an interesting read, hoarding truly is a sad disease — it’s a shame she did not get the help she needed. Thank you for sharing.
Do you have a link to Anne’s website? I’m really curious about her thoughts