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Gaineswood, Demopolis, Ala., circa 1830-1860

s1One of America’s finest Greek Revival houses, Gaineswood is a masterpiece.  Exceptional interior spaces have domed ceilings, elaborate plasterwork, and a facing pair of gilt mirrors that endlessly reflect each other.  Designed by owner and amateur architect General Nathan Bryan Whitfield, Gaineswood was constructed during 1843-1861. Some of the elaborate work was executed by African American slaves. The house museum contains many original Whitfield family furnishings and objects. The grounds feature a gazebo, a slave house, and a small building that was most likely a detached kitchen. A National Historic Landmark, Gaineswood was built by Nathan Bryan Whitfield.  A cotton planter and Renaissance man of his time, Whitfield moved from North Carolina to Marengo County in 1834.

In 1842 Whitfield purchased the 480-acre estate of George Strother Gaines.  According to family records, a dogtrot cabin in which Gaines lived became the nucleus for Whitfield’s Greek Revival mansion.  With the help of artists, craftsmen, and other talented persons, including  enslaved persons, Whitfield enlarged and refined the home to his liking.

By 1856 Whitfield decided to name the mansion Gaineswood in honor of George Strother Gaines.  Gaines played a large role not only in the history of Gaineswood, but also in the history of Demopolis, the state, and in the 1830 Choctaw removal.  It was Gaines who encouraged incoming French exiles in 1817 to establish their Vine and Olive Colony in what was to become Demopolis. By 1860 Whitfield had added Gaineswood’s domed ceilings.  With the exterior and folly landscape complete, Whitfield hired artist John Sartain to produce a steel engraving of the mansion’s façade and grounds.  Shown in the engraving are a hand-dug artificial lake fed by an artesian well and a summerhouse pavilion. Today visitors can tour the Greek Revival structure which contains many original Whitfield family furnishings donated by descendants.  We have pictures of all of the rooms inside Gaineswood, some showing the water damage due to the structure of the roof.

Glover Tavern, Forkland Alabama

s2Glover Tavern, located on Greene County Road 20, was built in 1830 in Forkland. It was initially the home of William Glover, until he built Rosemount Plantation, the largest house in the State of Alabama, two years later. After that it acted as a stagecoach stop.

Tannehill Iron Works, McAlla, Ala.

s3Glover Tavern, located on Greene County Road 20, was built in 1830 in Forkland. It was initially the home of William Glover, until he built Rosemount Plantation, the largest house in the State of Alabama, two years later. After that it acted as a stagecoach stop.
Gaineswood, Demopolis, Ala., circa 1830-1860
The Tannehill Ironworks is a state historic site in Tuscaloosa County near the unincorporated town of McCalla. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Tannehill Furnace, it was a major supplier of iron for Confederate ordnance. Remains of the old furnaces are the central attraction of Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park located 12 miles (19 km) south of Bessemer, Alabama off I-59/20 near the southern end of the Appalachian Mountains. The 2,063-acre (835 ha) historical park also includes the John Wesley Hall Grist Mill, May Plantation Cotton Gin House, and the Iron & Steel Museum of Alabama.

Ironmaking at the site began with construction of a bloomery forge by Daniel Hillman Sr. in 1830.  Built by noted southern ironmaster Moses Stroup from 1859 to 1862, the three charcoal blast furnaces at Tannehill could produce 22 tons of pig iron a day, most of which was shipped to the Naval Gun Works and Arsenal at Selma. Furnaces Nos. 2 and 3 were equipped with hot blast stoves and a steam engine. Brown iron ore mines were present two miles (3 km) distant.

The Tannehill furnaces and its adjacent foundry, where kettles and hollow-ware were cast for southern troops, were attacked and burnt by three companies of the U.S. 8th Iowa Cavalry on March 31, 1865 during Wilson’s Raid. The ruins remain today as one of the best preserved 19th-century iron furnace sites in the South.

Also known as the Roupes Valley Iron Company, these works had significant influence on the later development of the Birmingham iron and steel industry. An experiment conducted at Tannehill in 1862 proved red iron ore could successfully be used in Alabama blast furnaces. The test, promoted by South & North Railroad developers, led to the location of government-financed ironworks in the immediate Birmingham area (Jefferson County).

The furnace remains, including reconstructed portions, are an American Society for Metals historical landmark and have been designated as a Civil War Discovery Trail site.  The park attracted over 500,000 visitors in 2000 and in 2010.

FROGMORE PLANTATION, FERREDAY, LOUISIANA, circa the early 1790’s

s4Situated among the back roads of east-central Louisiana is one of the state’s premier cotton plantations. Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gin is a 1,800-acre operation, still in use after more than 200 years, which once had a front-row seat to Civil War battles. Before that, it was a trade stop for travelers along the wagon trail between Natchez to Natchitoches. And long before that, the land where Frogmore sits was the site of ancient Native American farmers.

The Mississippi and Louisiana Deltas and the Black Belt of Alabama including the Cane Break are full of stories, and Frogmore Plantation can tell more than a few historic tales.

What the plantation offers is a 360-degree view of history. “You just don’t have the same ambiance at a museum as what you get here,” Lynette Tanner said. She and husband George “Buddy” Tanner own Frogmore Plantation and have lived in the main house since the 1970s. Asked whether the Tanners purchased the land because of its farming potential or its historical significance, she said: “both.”

Slave Quarters at Frogmore Plantation

Lynette Tanner stars in an introductory video about Frogmore. In it, she talks about the mound builders, the French settlers who came into central Louisiana in the 1800s, the slave and cotton trade, sharecropping and the French and Indian War’s effects on the region. She discusses the Spanish influence in central Louisiana, England’s cotton industry, the invention of the cotton gin and the Emancipation Proclamation. And, of course, there’s the Civil War. In 1864, the part of the Mississippi Delta that includes Frogmore saw raids and battles that also brought Union soldiers to the plantation’s doorstep—literally. Then-owner John Gillespie allowed Yankee troops to camp on his land. Tanner goes deep into Frogmore’s history. There’s a lot to take in, and you may find yourself at the site for longer than you expect. “The tour lasts a total of an hour-and-a-half,” she said, “but people sometimes end up staying for two hours or longer.”

Starting from a 1790 log cabin, Frogmore’s guides take visitors around the plantation, which includes a stunning collection of 19 historical buildings constructed more than a century ago. Some are original to Frogmore, while others were donated to the plantation. Included among them are slave quarters, a church, cooking cabins, a sugarcane mill and barn, an overseer’s cottage, a smokehouse and perhaps the most valuable artifact of all, a complete 1884 Munger cotton gin. Of these, eight buildings are open to visitors. One of the more important structures is a slave house split into two halves. On one, Tanner has filled it with artifacts that Africans on the plantation (there were approximately 800) would have used. On the other side of the cabin, the inside is decorated as it would have been when sharecroppers lived there.

In the latter part of the tour, visitors see cotton as it’s harvested today. As one of the nation’s most completely computerized gins, Frogmore’s is a marvel of current farming technology. Also at the end of the tour, visitors are then offered the chance to hand-pick cotton themselves in the fields surrounding Frogmore. Try your hand at this harder-than-it-looks activity every month except May and June (that’s when new cotton plants are still coming up).

With so many different aspects to Frogmore Plantation’s history, the Tanners decided to host six different tours. Of these, two are open to individual visitors; the others are available for groups of 15 or 25. The main tour—Historical Cotton & Plantation Culture—gives an overview of Frogmore’s history, while The Plantation Civil War: Challenges and Changes tour offers a deeper look at the War Between the States as seen from planters, their families and slaves. Group tours each come with their own emphasis, including the slave music of the plantations (which is combined with a visit to the nearby Delta Music Museum in Ferriday) and the Music, Mistresses, & Marriage tour, an elaborate production that includes a reenactment of a slave wedding at Frogmore.

D’Evereux, Natchez, Mississippi circa 1840

s5D’Evereux is a mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

D’Evereux was built for William St. John Elliot, a wealthy planter, and his wife Anna Conner. The couple were social leaders in Natchez, and the home was named for Elliot’s mother’s family.

Completed in 1840, D’Evereux is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in Natchez. The builders and architects are not known, though in the home’s attic are the signatures of William Ledbetter of Virginia, and P.H. Hardy of Ohio.

D’Evereux was one of the first residential structures in Natchez built with a full-length two-story portico.[3] The six fluted Doric columns are spaced 12 ft (3.7 m) apart and are each 24 ft (7.3 m) in height.[2] The home included the first cupola in a Natchez mansion.

D’Evereux is currently a private residence and there are no tours except when the house is on Pilgrimage.

FROGMORE PLANTATION, FERREDAY, LOUISIANA, circa the early 1790’s

s6Situated among the back roads of east-central Louisiana is one of the state’s premier cotton plantations. Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gin is a 1,800-acre operation, still in use after more than 200 years, which once had a front-row seat to Civil War battles. Before that, it was a trade stop for travelers along the wagon trail between Natchez to Natchitoches. And long before that, the land where Frogmore sits was the site of ancient Native American farmers.

The Mississippi and Louisiana Deltas and the Black Belt of Alabama including the Cane Break are full of stories, and Frogmore Plantation can tell more than a few historic tales.

What the plantation offers is a 360-degree view of history. “You just don’t have the same ambiance at a museum as what you get here,” Lynette Tanner said. She and husband George “Buddy” Tanner own Frogmore Plantation and have lived in the main house since the 1970s. Asked whether the Tanners purchased the land because of its farming potential or its historical significance, she said: “both.”

Slave Quarters at Frogmore Plantation

Lynette Tanner stars in an introductory video about Frogmore. In it, she talks about the mound builders, the French settlers who came into central Louisiana in the 1800s, the slave and cotton trade, sharecropping and the French and Indian War’s effects on the region. She discusses the Spanish influence in central Louisiana, England’s cotton industry, the invention of the cotton gin and the Emancipation Proclamation. And, of course, there’s the Civil War. In 1864, the part of the Mississippi Delta that includes Frogmore saw raids and battles that also brought Union soldiers to the plantation’s doorstep—literally. Then-owner John Gillespie allowed Yankee troops to camp on his land. Tanner goes deep into Frogmore’s history. There’s a lot to take in, and you may find yourself at the site for longer than you expect. “The tour lasts a total of an hour-and-a-half,” she said, “but people sometimes end up staying for two hours or longer.”

Starting from a 1790 log cabin, Frogmore’s guides take visitors around the plantation, which includes a stunning collection of 19 historical buildings constructed more than a century ago. Some are original to Frogmore, while others were donated to the plantation. Included among them are slave quarters, a church, cooking cabins, a sugarcane mill and barn, an overseer’s cottage, a smokehouse and perhaps the most valuable artifact of all, a complete 1884 Munger cotton gin. Of these, eight buildings are open to visitors. One of the more important structures is a slave house split into two halves. On one, Tanner has filled it with artifacts that Africans on the plantation (there were approximately 800) would have used. On the other side of the cabin, the inside is decorated as it would have been when sharecroppers lived there.

In the latter part of the tour, visitors see cotton as it’s harvested today. As one of the nation’s most completely computerized gins, Frogmore’s is a marvel of current farming technology. Also at the end of the tour, visitors are then offered the chance to hand-pick cotton themselves in the fields surrounding Frogmore. Try your hand at this harder-than-it-looks activity every month except May and June (that’s when new cotton plants are still coming up).

With so many different aspects to Frogmore Plantation’s history, the Tanners decided to host six different tours. Of these, two are open to individual visitors; the others are available for groups of 15 or 25. The main tour—Historical Cotton & Plantation Culture—gives an overview of Frogmore’s history, while The Plantation Civil War: Challenges and Changes tour offers a deeper look at the War Between the States as seen from planters, their families and slaves. Group tours each come with their own emphasis, including the slave music of the plantations (which is combined with a visit to the nearby Delta Music Museum in Ferriday) and the Music, Mistresses, & Marriage tour, an elaborate production that includes a reenactment of a slave wedding at Frogmore.

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