Wednesday, June 24, 2015

'President's Mansion' historical marker tells of famous antebellum home

'President's Mansion' historical marker in Tuscaloosa.
This week’s featured historical marker is the “THE PRESIDENT’S MANSION” marker in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. This marker is located in Tuscaloosa on the south side of University Boulevard in front of the President’s Mansion at the University of Alabama.

This historical marker looks relatively new, that is, 15 to 20 years old. However, unlike most historical markers of this type, it gives no indication of exactly when it was erected. There’s text on both sides of the marker, but both sides are the same. What follows in the complete text from the marker:

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“THE PRESIDENT’S MANSION: In 1838, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees appropriated funds for a more suitable residence for the University’s new president, Basil Manly. The mansion on this site was built between 1839 and 1841 from plans provided by Michael Barry who served as architect and building superintendent for the project. Although Manly, the mansion’s first occupant, was a very popular president, the legislature regarded the structure as unnecessarily lavish. According to tradition, Louisa Frances Garland, wife of President Landon C. Garland, valiantly saved the state residence from destruction when Union Troops under the command of Major General John T. Croxton destroyed the campus on April 4, 1865. The mansion, which has undergone a number of restorations, assumed its predominantly white appearance in 1908.”

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I photographed this historical marker over a year ago during a brief visit to the campus, and since then I’ve run across a number of dates associated with the information on this marker. Here are just a few of them:

· Jan. 28, 1798 – Basil Manly Sr. was born near Pittsboro, N.C. He went on to serve as the University’s president from 1837 to 1855. He died at the home of Basil Manly Jr. in Greenville, S.C. at the age of 70 on Dec. 21, 1868 and was buried in Springwood Cemetery in Greenville.

· March 21, 1810 – Landon Garland was born in Nelson County, Va. He went on to serve as the University’s president from 1855 to 1865. He passed away at the age of 84 on Feb. 13, 1895 in Nashville, Tenn. and was buried in the Vanderbilt University Divinity Cemetery.

· Sept. 8, 1812 – Garland’s wife, Louisa Frances Garland, was born. She passed away at the age of 76 on April 22, 1889 and is buried in Oxford Memorial Cemetery in Oxford in Lafayette County, Miss.

· Nov. 20, 1836 – John T. Croxton was born in Paris, Ky. On April 3-4, 1865, Croxton’s cavalry brigade burned most of the University's buildings, as well as much of Tuscaloosa's industry and warehouses. After the war, Ulysses S. Grant appointed Croxton as U.S. Minister to Bolivia and Croxton died there of consumption at the age of 37 on April 16, 1874. His remains were shipped home and he was buried in Paris Cemetery in Paris, Ky.

· Jan. 14, 1972 – The President’s Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places due to its architectural and historical significance.

In the end, visit this site next Wednesday to learn about another historical marker. I’m also taking suggestions from the reading audience, so if you know of an interesting historical marker that you’d like me to feature, let me know in the comments section below. 

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