Friday, April 8, 2011

Arlington House Built Around 1842

Arlington House
Built Around 1842
Birmingham, Alabama
This plantation home in the Elyton section of old Birmingham, Alabama was built for William Mudd who was born in Kentucky but moved to Birmingham where he studied law and became a Circuit Court judge. Did you know that the city of Birmingham used to be called Elyton? A later owner of the home, Robert Munger, extensively renovated it for his wife and eight children. The last resident of the home was Ruby Munger, one of Robert's eight children who owned the home with her husband. In 1953 the city of Birmingham bought the home since it was the only remaining antebellum home still in existence in the city.

I liked the Chippendale style porch railing on the second floor.

Here you see my Jack getting ready to climb the stairs to take the house tour. On this road trip to many antebellum homes I had been wondering if I would encounter an African American giving one of these antebellum house tours of life in a former slave state. Well, we finally got to tour a plantation mansion and experience it through the eyes of an African American. Look below.
In this photo you see John, an African American and former New York state corrections officer, leading this group of tourists through the house and around the grounds of Arlington House.

John told us that he got bored with retirement near his daughter and granddaughter in Birmingham so he volunteers at Arlington House as a tour docent. We had a small group on our tour so we had lots of time to exchange perceptions of plantation life.

When John pointed out one of those mirror sideboards in the center hall that the southern ladies used to make sure that their ankles were not showing under their dresses and hoops (very risque behavior in those time!) I mentioned that we need something like that today but with the mirrors a little higher so that folks can tell if the "low rider jeans" are exposing not only their underwear but their butts. John replied that that style trend originated with prison inmates and he knew all
about that since he was a retired New York state corrections officer. Another man on our tour said he had once heard this but was glad to have this confirmed by a prison corrections officer and thanked John for verifying this information. (What interesting things you learn on a house tour!)
This is the back of the historic house. A later owner added a covered drive through that connected the house to his car garage. This garage is now used for weddings.
A view of the grounds with winter pansies in bloom. John said these would be pulled up and replaced with summer annuals.
Another view of the grounds with a large southern magnolia tree in the background.

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