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Monticello Memories – Museum Tour – Week 3

March 17th, 2013 by

I hope you are enjoying our little tour of the Drew County Museum and will come take a look for yourself soon!! We’ll begin our journey this week in the room that now serves as the museum’s office. Along the north and east walls of that first-floor room four unique oil paintings are hanging. The first is an aesthetic rendition of the old Selma United Methodist Church. The church is one of the most recognized sites in Drew County, is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been lovingly restored in recent years. The soft, yet bright colors in the painting give the scene a pastoral quality. The painting is the work of Jerry Swope, an art teacher at Monticello High School in the 1970’s. Mr. Swope has since moved from Monticello, but left fond memories with his many friends, and this beautiful piece of art in the museum.

Another oil canvas hangs over the doorway in the office. It was rendered from an old photograph of the town square and the 1870 courthouse. The scene depicts the old courthouse and other buildings around the Square. The photograph was taken in the 1880’s before a fire in 1890 destroyed the other buildings. The painting was created by Billy Wood, son of Clifford Wood, and presented to the museum in 1975. It hangs near the photograph and you can compare the likenesses.

The next picture is framed beautifully and has a light mounted at the top that enhances its vivid coloring. It is a painting of the old Barrett home in Selma and was, too, inspired by a photo. The house was originally the home of a Dr. Stanley. The Barretts moved into the home in 1914. It was the childhood home of Inez Barrett Haisty, Gwendolyn Barrett Stanford and Polly Barrett Ballard. All of these ladies were well known in the Monticello area. The house burned to the ground several years ago. Monticello native Dan Coston produced the oil painting from a picture in 1969 and Mrs. Gwendolyn Stanford gave it to the museum in 1997.

Now let’s turn our eyes to the west wall and its fifteen professionally matted and framed photographs hanging in three rows of five each. The pictures are enlargements from black-and-white photos of some of the most historical and architecturally unique masterpieces once found along the streets of early Monticello and in Drew County.

In the top row, the first picture is the Arthur Harris house built around 1880. It stood on South Main where the Methodist parsonage now stands. The second shows the David Wells house built in 1861 on the old Barkada Road. The next, the R.H. McQuiston home, was built in 1874 north of Monticello. The fourth photo is the W.C. Howell home built in 1862. It was moved across Main Street from the site of the McCloy house to the property now belonging to First Baptist Church at 523 N. Main. The house was torn down in 1978 as the church expanded. The picture is a winter scene. A story says that when the house was moved across the street the move took two days, so the family spent the night in the house in the middle of the street. The last photo on the top row was part of the campus of Hinemon University, an early high school. It was built in 1887 where the old high school was located on West College Street. The structure burned in 1914.

On the second row the first picture was the Monticello Grammar School that stood on the site of W.C. Whaley. (This is now the site of the new fire station complex on North Main Street.) This school was burned in 1895. Two more school buildings followed on the site, including the much-grieved W. C. Whaley complex.

The next house pictured is the old George Wilson home east of Monticello on Old Troy Road. Beside it is the original Charles T. Duke home in the Baxter community in southeast Drew County near Dermott. (The Duke house is a tale within itself for later.) Next is the W.T. Tool house that stood on the southeast corner of East Shelton and Edwards Streets.

The last photo on the second row is a likeness of one of the three dwellings pictured that still stands. It is the W.A. Moffatt home at 429 South Main. One of the most interesting homes in Monticello, it was originally built and owned by Dr. William Ragland. He left his family there to go to war and returned home after the war to find his wife had died and the children scattered. In his grief he gathered his children and moved to Bradley County. Then the Wells family bought the house and it has remained in that family to this day. It is the oldest home in Monticello. (This is another great story for another day.)

The first picture on the third row is the old courthouse and the town square as it looked in 1879. Eleven years later, in 1890, a fire destroyed most of the buildings around the square. The courthouse served from 1870 until 1932 when the present courthouse was built.

The next photo is the Champ Grubbs home built in 1854 in rural Drew County. It was a dogtrot log house and today is the home of the Mayo family on Ozment Bluff Road.

The third home that may still be seen is the Joe Lee Allen house at 713 N. Main in Monticello. Built in 1907, it exemplifies the idea of Southern plantation architecture that we expect in such a setting. Today it is owned by the Dr. Mark Spencer family, is being rehabilitated and has become widely known for its “ghost” stories.

The fourth picture in that row is the Bertie Erwin home on North Main on the same property that later was the site of the old hospital. The last of the series is the Major Anderson house built at the corner of McCloy and Slemmons in 1895. Major Anderson was a Civil War veteran.

Come and look at these photos. Imagine the comings and goings during their active years. Admire the architecture. Wonder at the excellent condition of the remaining three homes. What stories they could all tell!!

A picture truly is worth a thousand words, so come visit your museum and see the pictures described in these 1000+ words! You’ll be intrigued!

 

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One Response to “Monticello Memories – Museum Tour – Week 3”

  1. bden says:

    I haven’t thought about Jerry Swope in years. I took my first high school art class under Mr. Swope. He was quite talented, and a lot of fun as a teacher. I wonder where he is now?

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