Home | Whats New | Site Index | Search

Jefferson Village

Marengo County, Alabama

Jefferson is an unincorporated village. Mailing addresses are Demopolis, 36732.


James Hildreth House (Hildreth-Simmons House

Photo: James Hildreth House (Hildreth-Simmons House), circa 1848, loccated in the Jefferson Historic District, Jefferson. The Historic District was listed on the National Register in 1976. Photographer: wikipedia username: Altairisfar, 2011, [cc-3.0]; accessed September, 2022.


A National Register Historic District

Description

Located within the 130 acres which make up the center of the small community of Jefferson are two churches, a small and well-detailed store, two frame mansion-type houses, a one-story structure originally used as a female academy, and three one-story frame dwellings, all of which date from the mid-19th Century. Also located in the district are several tenant houses and barns, which date from the early portion of the 19th Century, and six houses and a store dating from the mid-20th Century. The majority of the buildings are scattered in random fashion along highway 28, which constitutes the main street of the town. The two large homes are located off from the main road along small unpaved lanes and several of the tenant houses and barns are located to the rear of the Seabrook-Simmons store in the vicinity of the cemetery.

The western boundary of the district is a field road along the Westbrook house, a two-story structure with a five-bay facade, a central, double-pedimented portico, end-exterior chimneys, fluted Doric columns, and a crow's foot balustrade. Continuing down the drive of the Westbrook house is a small tenant house, a one-story frame, two-room structure now covered with asbestos siding which was constructed during the early portion of the 20th Century. At the intersection of the Westbrook drive and Highway 28 is the Joel Lipscomb House (mid-19th Century) originally a one-story, gabled-roof, frame structure of indeterminate plan, which has been added to over the years. Proceeding east along the southern side of the Highway are three houses of recent construction: a Simmons Rental House (circa 1950), a one-story, concrete block structure; the Luther Lindsey House, circa 1949, a one-story, brick building with a hipped roof and small portico; and the Lindsey House, circa 1940, a one-story frame structure covered with novelty siding and featuring an enclosed portico.

Along the northern side of the Highway is the Seabrook-Simmons store and a small one-story, tin garage which was built around 1940. The Seabrook store, constructed in the mid-1850 fs is a one-story, clapboarded structure with a central portico and Greek Revival detailing. The structure was enlarged during the early 1900 ! s by the addition of a storage room on the rear and an extension along the eastern side. Adjacent to the store is the Seabrook House, a mid-19th Century structure now vacant and in disrepair. Originally it was a center-hall plan with a single room on either side and a detached kitchen and dining room. To the rear of the house are two barns and a shotgun, tenant house, all constructed in the early 1900's. Continuing east along the highway is the mid-1850's Methodist Church, a one-story frame structure with a pedimented end-gable and recessed portico with columns set in antis.

Directly opposite the Church is the Hildreth-Simmons House, set well back from the main road at the end of its private drive. The two-story frame house, consists of four rooms per floor, and a central hall and interior chimneys. The central pedimented portico with square columns, crows foot balustrade, and shiplapped facade; the dentiled cornice; and the shouldered window trim are the main features of the house. Facing the drive of the house is a small, gabled-roof, frame structure which is presently being used for hay storage. Continuing east along the highway are two brick structures of recent construction; the Edward Lindsey House and the Billy Rhodes House, both one-story brick structures with gabled roofs and long low proportions.

The Pace-Rhodes House, constructed sometime during the mid-19th Century, is a one-story frame structure with a central pedimented portico supported by lattice filled posts. Entrance is by two single front doors leading into the two front rooms. An L-shaped wing was added during the late 19th Century. Opposite the Pace-Rhodes House is the Community House, originally a female academy, a one-story structure with a gabled roof, deep entablature and projecting cornice. A shed roof porch gives access to the two single doors leading into each of the two rooms. Originally the structure was two stories in height, but the second floor was removed in 1918. West of the Community House is the present Post Office and Lock Store, a one-story, frame structure with novelty siding, a gabled roof with extended rafters and a projecting front gable supported by posts. West of the Post Office is the Baptist Church, a one-story frame structure with a recessed portico on the gable end.

Significance

The small rural village of Jefferson is one of the oldest communities in Marengo County and contains five vernacular examples of the Greek Revival style, which dominated the architecture of the area for nearly three decades. The town of Jefferson served, and continues to serve, as the center of a scattered agricultural community, and houses within two to five miles of the village center are considered to be "of Jefferson".

Within the nucleus of the village are five structures which reflect to different degrees the preference for the Greek Revival during the late 1840 !s and 1850's. Of the five buildings the most strongly Greek Revival, both in over-all concept and detailing, is the Methodist Church (circa 1845), a one-story pedimented end-gable structure which features a recessed portico with box columns set in antis. The shouldered window and door trim, the double vertical panels of the two entrances and the treatment of the entablature reflect a more formalized approach to the style than is found in any of the other structures of the village. The builder of the midlSSO Baptist Church, utilized the same gable-end plan with columns in antis, but selected attenuated columns and pilasters in favor of the more massive box columns found on the Methodist Church. The Greek Revival appears in the Westbrook and the Hildreth-Simmons Houses, not so much in their overall conception, but in the use of details; pedimented porticos, shouldered window and door trim, and heavy" but severe entablatures. The pedimented end-gables, the recessed panles of the door and shutters, the shouldered door and window trim-.along with the pedimented portico of the Seabrook-Simmons Store reflect the extent to which the owner of this small commercial structure wished his establishment to reflect the most fashionable style of the era.

The town is one of the oldest in the area and its growth, decline, and present appearance is similar to that of many small plantation communities in the Black Belt Region. By 1810, a few white settlers had pushed into the Indian Lands of the Mississippi Territory which after 1819 fell into the northwestern part of Marengo County in the new state of Alabama. Many of the early settlers were natives of the Carolinas and several were veterans of the Revolution, among them John Sample, John Gilmore, and Rueben Hildreth, As lands in the area were opened to settlement and after Alabama was admitted to the Union, the influx of settlers increased and by 1820 the community had selected a name and had organized its first church, the Baptist Church with a membership of 27. In the 1840's and 1850's the earlier and cruder structures began to give way to the finer homes which reflected the prosperity of the cotton plantation system. Most of the remaining structures in Jefferson date from this period and several large plantation homes still remain in the countryside around the town. The town reached the height of its prosperity during the mid-19th Century and during those years boasted of a population of 200, two drygoods stores, one drug store, three churches, a male and female academy, one masonic lodge, a hotel, and two tan yards.

After the Civil War the town never regained its prosperity, and, as the earlier structures were lost to fires and storms, they were not replaced. During the early 20th Century several small tenant houses and barns were constructed, and during more recent years several new homes have been built. Despite the recent construction the earlier structures reflect the affluence and atmosphere of the pre-war era.

Adapted from: W. Warner Floyd, Executive Director and Ellen Mertins, Alabama Historical Commission, Jefferson Historic District, nomination document, 1976, National Register if Historic Places, Washington, D.C.