In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Union Springs, Alabama flourished. Two major railroads intersected in the small town, making it an important hub of the state and the South. The booming industry and commerce in Union Springs made many inhabitants very wealthy, which led to the many graceful Southern mansions being built all around town. From the days of Reconstruction onward, the architecture of homes built in Union Springs was as diverse as the aristocrats that constructed them. Known today as the Rainer-Lewis House, Sterling Price Rainer, Jr. began construction on this impressive 12-room mansion in 1902. The Neo-Classical Revival style home, completed in 1904, features an ample portico with four large Corinthian columns, a romantic second-floor balcony, and a stained glass window on the interior stairway.
Sterling Price Rainer, Jr. was born on January 24, 1885, and raised in Union Springs. His father, Sterling Price Rainer, Sr. was a successful merchant and served as Probate Judge of Bullock County. He served on the city council for four years before becoming Mayor and finally served in 1907 as a State Legislator from Bullock County. He lived just a few blocks away in a modest home built in the 1800s. Rainer Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps serving as Probate Judge of Bullock County and later was elected Mayor of Union Springs. Both father and son were heavily invested in the mercantile business. Sterling Price Rainer, Jr. married Jean Lacoste Evans in 1909, and they welcomed their first child, Sterling Price Rainer III, in 1911. The couple would go on to have three children by 1918. Rainer Jr. spent his entire life in Union Springs. He died on May 29, 1967, at the age of 82. His obituary states he was a deacon for 42 years at Union Springs Presbyterian Church. Like his father, Sterling Price Rainer, Jr. is buried in nearby Oak Hill Cemetery.
In 2012, the Rainer-Lewis House was sold to Dr. Hikes-McDonald, who discovered the home for sale through the internet. She purchased the home and moved to Union Springs to retire after working for the Veterans Administration for many years. Her brother, Robert Hikes, retired from Honeywell Corporation in Massachusetts and moved into the home accompanied by their poodle, Teddy Pendergrass. After several years, they decided to move to Chicago to be closer to family. Due to either age or illness of the current owner, the address is exempt from owing property taxes and has been left abandoned. In early 2022, workers were seen around the property, and lift trucks were parked out front. Although there has been no sale reported on county tax websites, many hoped a renovation may be pending. As it turns out, the equipment was for an ongoing restoration next door and not the Rainer-Lewis House. There are currently no plans for the property.
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