Monday, October 28, 2013

LIFE LIST UPDATE – No. 614: Spend the night in the Old Dr. John Watkins House at Burnt Corn

Old Dr. John Watkins House at Burnt Corn
I’ve lived in Monroe County, Ala. for most of my life, and I’ve always been deeply intrigued by the county’s history. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to tales of the county’s early settlers and its old buildings, and I never tire of hearing about them. One of the oldest homes in all of Monroe County is the Dr. Watkins House at Burnt Corn, and I’ve always wanted to spend a night under its historic roof.

I added “Spend the night in the old Dr. John Watkins House at Burnt Corn” to my “life list” a couple of years ago, and I got the chance to scratch this item off my list on Friday night. Thanks to the gracious hospitality of the home’s owners, two friends and I were allowed to spend the night there as part of a Halloween-themed newspaper story. (The story about our visit to the house will be published in the Oct. 31 editions of The Evergreen Courant and The Monroe Journal.) Not only did we get a detailed tour of the house, we were also pretty much given the run of the place.

Located on the west side of County Road 5, about 1-1/2 miles north of downtown Burnt Corn, the Dr. Watkins House was built in 1812. Watkins lived in the house until his death in 1853 and for many years he was the only practicing physician between the Alabama and Chattahoochee rivers. Added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on Oct. 4, 1993, this 2-1/2 story house was standing when General Andrew Jackson passed through Burnt Corn in 1814. Some say that Jackson even spent the night in the house, which I think is pretty cool.

Watkins’ medical office was on the second floor of the house, and some sources say he treated the wounded from the Fort Mims Massacre in the house. Watkins and his wife, Mary, also raised eight children in the house, and it’s hard to imagine that many people living in the house, which wouldn’t be considered spacious by modern standards. The first floor consists of four rooms, three of which are now used as bedrooms, with a bathroom having been added on to the back.

Today, the current owners use the house as a hunting lodge and as a place to get away from it all. For a house that over two centuries old, it felt very warm and comfortable, and appeared so well built that it’s not hard to figure out why it has lasted so long. If you go there today, you’ll see such unusual features as “haint paint” on the front porch and cool old-timey fireplaces decorated with carved sunburst ornaments.

In the end, I really enjoyed the opportunity to spend the night at the Dr. Watkins House, and I really appreciate the owners allowing me and my colleagues to spend some time there. How many of you are familiar with the Dr. Watkins House? How many of you have spent time there or spent the night there? Do you have any interesting stories about the house? Let us know in the comments section below.

1. Ate a funnel cake
2. Ate a peach from Chilton County, Alabama
3. Ate at Big Daddy’s Grill in Fairhope
4. Ate at Callaghan’s Irish Social Club in Mobile
5. Ate catfish at the Stage Coach Café in Stockton
6. Ate octopus
7. Ate pigs feet
8. Attended a Beulah Campground service
9. Drank a fresh lemonade at Toomer’s Drugs in Auburn
10. Drank a Mimosa
11. Drank Cognac
12. Drank goat’s milk
13. Hiked the Grand Canyon
14. Joined the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society
15. Joined the Sons of Confederate Veterans
16. Made an origami animal
17. Listened to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” without interruption
18. Listened to The Beatles’ “White Album” without interruption
19. Planted a vegetable garden
20. Ran the Alligator Trot 5K in Florala
21. Ran the Battle of Mobile Bay 5K on Dauphin Island
22. Ran through the Bankhead Tunnel in Mobile
23. Read all the Hellboy graphic novels
24. Read “And Then There Were None” by Agatha Christie
25. Read “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl
26. Read MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech
27. Read “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer” by Warren St. John
28. Read “Savage Wilderness” by Barry Ralph
29. Read the “Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe”
30. Read the entire Bible
31. Read “Who Goes There?” by John W. Campbell Jr.
32. Saw the Ginkgo tree in Evergreen
33. Spent the night in the Old Dr. John Watkins House at Burnt Corn
34. Started a fire without matches
35. Took the downtown Selma walking tour
36. Tried 100 different types of beer
37. Visited Ellicott’s Stone
38. Visited Packer’s Bend
39. Visited the Grand Canyon
40. Visited the grave of Lewis Lavon Peacock
41. Visited the Hank Williams Statue in Montgomery
42. Watched “A Streetcar Named Desire”
43. Watched “Brazil” (1985)
44. Watched “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958)
45. Watched “Dracula” (1931)
46. Watched “Easy Rider” (1969)
47. Watched “Frankenstein” (1931)
48. Watched “Nosferatu” (1922)
49. Watched “This Is Spinal Tap”

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: The whole point of these life list updates is NOT to draw attention to myself or to anything that I’ve done. Instead, I hope to encourage others to accomplish their own bucket list goals. I’m just a regular guy, and if I can do these things, so can you.)

1 comment:

  1. My parents lived in the Watkins house for a few years. My brothers tell a story of one of them being held over the balcony by the feet by one of our uncles.