Tag Archives: architecture




above photo by Allyson P.

This is not the original Decatur train depot. This was built later in the Spanish style architecture. The earlier one sat closer to the Tennessee river.

June 12, 1832: Alabama’s first railroad, the Tuscumbia Railway, opens, running the two miles from Tuscumbia Landing at the Tennessee River to Tuscumbia. The railway was the first phase of a planned railroad to Decatur, forty-three miles to the east. That railroad was needed in order for river traffic to avoid the dangerous and often unnavigable Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River.

Historic Marker

Seeking a means to ship cotton and other goods around the treacherous Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River, area planters and merchants met at Courtland in 1831 to consider a rail line. On January 13, 1832, the 50-mile long Tuscumbia, Courtland & Decatur railroad was chartered. Early trains were usually horse-drawn, although an English-made steam locomotive was acquired in 1834. Absorbed by the Memphis & Charleston line after 1850, the railway was largely destroyed during the Civil War. The rebuilt railroad became part of the Southern system in 1898.


On Sunday, Patrick and I were driving around Decatur near the new Ingalls Harbour Pavillion. Which is really nice by the way. We saw an odd structure at the back of the lot. Now, Decatur has a lot of historical markers, but, this had nothing. Something as cool as this structure deserves a sign of some description, history etc. It took a lot of research to determine what it was. The Morgan county or Decatur websites had no information. It was a photo on Flickr that described it.

Beehive Brick Kiln

As we were driving, we discovered the Burleson home. It is a beautiful Greek Revival set on the Tennessee river west of Decatur.

Burleson house ( photo by Tim Carr )

The Rhea-McEntire House ( Burleson house )  is a historic antebellum Greek Revival mansion located along the shoreline of the Tennessee River in Decatu Alabama.

The house was constructed prior to 1836, and was used as headquarters by both Union and Confederate forces, alternately, during the Civil War.

In 1862, before being occupied by Federal forces, the plans for the Battle of Shiloh were laid out within this building. Because of this, the house was spared when the city was burned, leaving only 2 other buildings standing in the city.

The house was also used as the first temporary courthouse, during the construction of the first permanent courthouse in Somerville, in Cotaco County which is now Morgan County.







I had no idea what it meant. I was wandering around Athens City cemetery, and I saw this unusual monument. It looked like a tree stump. I had never seen the likes of this. I took a photo. Now, they command my attention as much as obelisks do. The concrete stump emerges from the graveyard, beckoning me to come take a look. Once I see one in the cemetery, I gaze for others. Surveying the landscape today, I saw a few really large monuments, I knew these  were Woodmen pillars of stone.

The history of the Woodmen of the World, established in 1883 by Joseph Cullen Root. He envisioned an organization dedicated to helping his fellow man. He wanted to provide security to families, in the event the ” breadwinner” passed on. Hence, the beginning of the Woodmen of the World insurance organization.

Joseph Cullen Root

From about 1890 until the 1920s, the insurance organization commissioned markers for its members. These markers were provided free of charge, and varied greatly in size and shape. Most commonly, they resembled a tree stump or a stack of cut wood. Some are elaborate hand-carved trees, with fine detailing. Others were simple stone markers, with the Woodman emblem.

I went to Somerville today. There is a historic cemetery there, just off HWY 67 and 36. The above monuments were photographed today at Somerville court house and Somerville cemetery.

Historic Somerville Cemetery

Somerville also has another bit of history. The court house in the center of town. The historic Morgan County Courthouse in Somerville, Alabama. Built in 1837, it is the oldest original courthouse in Alabama still standing. The Federal-style building served as a courthouse until the county seat for Morgan County moved from Somerville to Decatur in 1891. The building later served as Somerville Town Hall. Presently it is used for meetings, birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings.

Somerville, the original Morgan county courthouse

© Fanniesyouraunt



I love interesting buildings, architecture and just plain old stuff.

Leaning Building

This building was off old HWY 20 outside of Greenbrier. No, it’s not the camera angle, see the building next to it. I thought this was really funny. Right next door….where else would you go, but, to ” Mom’s Place ” for a good meal. They don’t have a website, but, I bet they have good vittles!!

Mom’s Place


Aaron Boylan, who was married to Katherine Parkinson Shilton built the
Boylan House or Mansion in 1751. Aaron who pronounced the name “Bullion” had
a store in Basking Ridge before coming to Pluckimin. The first year he used
the ground floor for his store, but as soon as a new store was erected the
house was his residence only.

At first the house consisted of the front portion with a lean-to kitchen
in the rear. As the family became more affluent other sections were added to
make the fine structure which can be seen today.

Historical records show that George and Martha Washington attended a
dinner and dance held at the Boylan Mansion during the Revolutionary War.
There is also record of an order issued by General Lincoln to James Boylan,
Physician and Surgeon, directing Doctor Boylan to use the Boylan Mansion at
Pluckimin as a hospital to care for the wounded.

The land around the building is also historic. The rear boundary is
General Know Lane, built by his orders during the Revolutionary War for access to the Continental Army’s artillery encampment in the fields back of the property. The north lawn is reputed to be the site of the temporary ballroom for the Grand Alliance Ball, held in 1779 in Pluckemin to celebrate the first anniversary of the Alliance with France, which ended in victory at Yorktown.

The home has been completely restored and is now open to the public as
“The John Boylan House”. John son of Aaron was the second owner. The present owner, an antique dealer has his handsome shop attached to the rear of the house.




These are some houses in the historic district of Courtland Alabama. Courtland is home to one of the first southern railroads.

One of the South’s First Railroads – 1832

Seeking a means to ship cotton and other goods around the treacherous Muscle Shoals of the Tennessee River, area planters and merchants met at Courtland in 1831 to consider a rail line. On January 13, 1832, the 50 mile long Tuscumbia, Courtland, & Decatur Railroad was chartered. Early trains were usually horse-drawn, although an English-made steam locomotive was acquired in 1834. Absorbed by the Memphis & Charleston line after 1850, the railway was largely destroyed during the Civil War. The rebuilt railroad became part of the southern system in 1898.

Courtland’s Early Architecture

Structures within the Courtland historic district represent over 150 years of changing tastes in building design. Several of Courtland’s earliest buildings survive to this day. The Federal-style architecture of the oldest houses suggest the community’s strong original links with Virginia and other states of the upper South. Typical early residences of frame and brick feature a gable roof with tall chimneys at each end. Sometimes weatherboarding conceals log walls underneath. Many buildings dating from the 1850s through the 1930s reflect Italianate, Victorian and neoclassical architectural influences. There are also early 20th century “bungalows”, some built of native sandstone. Courtland still counts about twenty buildings predating the Civil War (1861). During the early 19th century, an assortment of wooden, brick and log business structures surrounded the town square. Most of the old buildings on the square today (north and east sides) date from the late 19th century and early 20th century. The fronts of some of them feature characteristic Victorian detailing. At the northeast corner of the square are four 19th-century stone mounting blocks placed for the convenience of horseback riders. The blocks were also supposedly used for selling slaves during the slave period. The tall red cedars seen throughout Courtland and along the streets radiating from the square have been a feature of the landscape since early days.

Located near downtown, is Courtland Cemetery and Courtland Black Cemetery.

Historic Marker Courtland Cemetery

Courtland Black Cemetery

I noted that on FindaGrave, of all the 456 burials in the Black cemetery, none of the burials have photos attached on FindaGrave. So, while there, I managed to take some headstone photos. Not enough of the 456, but, I tried. Courtland cemetery is one of the prettiest I have seen.

Lou Watkins

The Red Rovers

A volunteer military company was organized at Courtland in 1835 to aid Texas in its struggle for independence. Commanded by Dr. Jack Shackelford, a local physician, the company derived its name from the color of their home spun uniforms made by citizens of Courtland. The dye used was reportedly derived from the rich red clay abundant in the area.

Old Dead People and Decrepit Buildings

Although, short lived, my genealogy trip was a lot of fun. I began in Opelika Alabama, hoping to find the elusive Mamie Thomas, who married John R. McCall. She is still elusive by the way. I proceeded from Columbus Georgia to Talbotton Georgia. On the way, I found an old cemetery at the Ellerslie UMC Church. There is something really cool about old churches. Imagining, their member were buried at the cemetery out front. Some markers were dated earlier than 1860. After trampling through the cemetery, I then drove on to Talbotton, I wanted to see the court house. The town was really quiet, except for two men out front.  I drove around to the Leverthistoric district and saw some beautiful Greek Revival homes. Several had fallen into disrepair. My gg grandfather John R McCall was born in Talbotton in 1854. Just north in Pleasant Hill community. In the 1860 census, we was listed as an overseer, and I wondered exactly where the planation may have been. I saw several Antebellum homes on the road going out of town. Every once in a while, I would notice an old cemetery, and would have to turn around to find the entrance. May were marked with iron fences. I knew of none of my ancestors buried at any of these old cemeteries, but, I still had to look. From Talbotton, I headed south to Geneva, which was really just train tracks and highway. I found one old church, no longer in use. Then on to Buena Vista, in Marion County. I stopped in a small junk store to look around, and bought a local newspaper. I love small towns!! I drove around the square, and yes, found another cemetery. I kept going until I saw the next sign that said 29 miles to wherever. I was on a straight track to go through all the cities where my ancestors had lived.

More to come

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