The story of Rosemount plantation goes much deeper than is generally known, even deeper than roots of the gnarled oaks that dot the landscape around this architectural jewell of Alabama’s Black Belt region. Rosemount, also known by locals in the area as Rosemont, is to this day one of the finest existing examples of antebellum, Greek Revival architecture in the state of Alabama, bar none. The history of the mansion, now spanning some eighteen decades, began with one family who carried it from the early 19th century into the 20th century and others who, each in turn, contributed something to its longtime survival. It has survived through periods of prosperity and deprivation, Civil War and the changing of society, standing strong and hopeful of a continued future, waiting for new life to be breathed into its old walls and to continue writing the story of its history. Rosemount is a mansion of history and in some ways, one of mystery as well.
Part 1: Discovery
My discovery of Rosemount began in 2010. I was studying old photographs of antebellum plantation mansions of the deep South that were part of an archive owned by the Library of Congress. The archive, known as the Historic American Buildings Survey, was compiled during the Great Depression and architectural historians such as myself are very familiar with it because it is a wealth of information that now can be studied from the comfort of one’s own home. When I first came across the photographs of Rosemount I was struck by the incredible beauty and grandeur of the mansion, even as depicted in the near state of decrepitude that the pictures conveyed to me. I had to know more about it and I was soon to discover that Rosemount didn’t give up her secrets easily…in fact, even with the internet and all of its vast resources, there was very little information out there to be gleaned about the house or whether it still even existed.
To be fair, the Historic American Buildings Survey was commissioned during some of the poorest years in America’s history, the Great Depression, and shows a wealth of photographs made of the old plantations of the South. In those days, many of these homes were disappearing each year due to a variety of causes. The Depression added to that because many had very little in the way of money. Neglect, natural disasters and indifference took their toll as well. These homes, which their owners had fought hard to keep during the War Between the States and which they had held together for nearly seventy years afterwards, faced an almost insurmountable decade of poverty in the 1930′s and this was most noticeable in the rural South. The descendants of old southern aristocracy, many no longer able to keep them, abandoned them, sold them or continued to live in them as they decayed and rotted around them.
The Roosevelt Administration commissioned the survey to catalog and document many of those that were still in existence and Rosemount, arguably Greene County’s finest example of Antebellum Greek Revival architecture, was no doubt high on the list. This beautiful black and white photograph, made in 1934, is one of the best and most detailed photographs of Rosemount and it speaks volumes of the conditions extant in the South during the Great Depression. In fact, it is this very portrait of the house that started me on this adventure and which beckoned to me from the past to notice it and to pursue it.
Pictured is Rosemount in all its glory, standing proud and strong at the then-age of 102 years old, even against the ravages of time and neglect. Its white paint, faded and chipped, its dentils worn and its cornice graying with age, she is still a home of pride and distinction, a relic of a bygone era whose beauty was fading but still very much in evidence. Note the details of the broken plaster exposing the underlying brick plinths that support the column on the right, the unkempt yard with its ancient oak trees and its overgrown east wing porch and you see a clear picture of a time when very few people had the funds needed to properly maintain an enormous twenty room wooden mansion that was gigantic even by the standards of today. Another picture, from the same survey, shows a side view of the home with greater detail as to the depth of the house, the original kitchen (now gone) and the massive size of its crowning cupola.
Times grew better for Rosemount as a later picture from 1939 shows the house with fresh new paint and a much more manicured landscape (pictured at the top of this article). New owners, apparently with greater financial means, took an interest in saving the old home, spending money rehabilitating the house into something more like what it had been. There is some information out there to indicate the house was open for tours in those later years but how long this went on is not certain. There was evidence of an auction where the house was sold some years later and would not be open for tours anymore and at some point afterwards, Rosemount began a new downhill slide.
I found these and a few other pictures of the home but all of them dated from the earlier half of the twentieth century. No matter how much searching I did, for many months I never could find a current photograph that would tell me what the current condition of the home was. Was it even still there? Everything I found spoke of it in the present tense, which led me to belive that the house must still be there but why was information so hard to find on this home that was supposed to be one of the finest of its era and which had been placed on the National Historic Register in the early 1970′s? People in the South who own these old plantation homes take great pride in them and usually WANT to show them but the condition of Rosemount remained, for some time, a great mystery to me.
Part 2: History and Architectural Significance
Rosemount was built just north of the small village of Forkland, Alabama in Greene County, some miles from the larger towns of Eutaw, Boligee and Demopolis. Most passengers travelling down the road would pass by in complete ignorance of the grand mansion hidden so well from the road unless they happened to take notice of the four large red pillars on the right side of the road as they drove by.
The pillars, then overgrown with the dense vegetation commonly found in the Deep South, sit caddy cornered to the main road and a private driveway that leads to other dwelling places. Behind the gate, the remnants of a dirt driveway barely traversable winding through a forest of pines and hardwoods leads to the great house itself, which sits atop a star-shaped promontory hill, overlooking some 3000 acres of land it once controlled. Rosemount was built in stages between 1832 and 1850 as the home of Williamson Allen Glover. Glover expanded and enlarged the mansion several times to accommodate his large family of sixteen children, ultimately creating what became the twenty room mansion that it is today. The elevation of the house is 245 feet above sea level, some 70 feet higher than the road that runs in front of the estate so the views from the mansion were impressive at the time it was completed. From the gates of the plantation, the dirt drive way continues several hundred yards in a straight line before veering slightly to hug the side of a small pond, then curves sharply and winds its way up to the mansion that crowned the hill….and what a grand mansion that it was as this color painting from decades ago suggests.
Rosemount was built as a classical study in Greek Revival architecture, featuring many elements that blended harmoniously to create a style that is viewed by so many as the quintessential Southern Plantation: a monumental portico with a dentiled entablature, supported by six columns of the Greek Ionic order; a hip roof; functional wooden shutters painted dark green at all windows; large double front doors on both the first and second level, the latter with a small balcony just above the lower level door and of course, the wide front porch where no doubt many a warm summer evening was spent after dinner by members of the household.
Not as common to most plantation mansions of the time was the large fourth floor cupola room that crowned the hip roof. In some ways, it resembles a miniature mansion set atop the much larger one, with Doric columns on its east, south and west sides. It is generally acknowledged that this room was used for musical entertaining and it certainly afforded the finest views of the surrounding countryside, sitting some 35-40 feet above the level of the ground. It is the largest such residential cupola in the state of Alabama.
The large main body of the house is narrower across the front than it is deep, flanked toward the rear with both an east and west wing that only enhance the perception of size associated with the mansion. Each wing has its own entrance and a small porch on the ground floors and from the air looks like a giant “T” shaped object. The rear wings actually form the central hallway of the house and are believed by architectural experts to form the earliest part of the mansion which was enhanced a few years later by the front wing and columned front porch.
Family stories have asserted that the cupola room was actually part of the early structure as well and was incorporated into the main body of the house when it was added to the structure. Unlike many Southern plantation mansions that were built in stages and enlarged by different builders, all of the elements of Rosemount come together to form one seamless and flowing design that works in perfect harmony together. This is one of the reasons that Rosemount is considered to be one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture from the Antebellum Old South.
Inside the residence, a central hallway, 60 feet long, traverses the distance from the east to west wings and is duplicated on the second floor. These hallways helped provide ventilation during the long hot southern summers. An entrance hall, dual parlors and a dining room, along with eight bedrooms make up the interior; the kitchen, like most of the ones from that time, was detached from the main house for fear of fire. It later was relocated to the rear of the residence and in later years was removed altogether.
The interior walls and ceilings were plastered and very fine for the period while various fireplaces of marble, carved from fine marble quarried at the Carrera quarries of Italy among other materials could be found in every room as attested to by the presence of the tall brick chimneys that rose high above the roof. A graceful dual staircase graces the central hall on either side of the dining room entrance, leaving the front central hallway open for receiving visitors. At one point, the right hand staircase was added on, possibly to provide a more symmetrical appearance. Interior doors were ornamental with fine wood moldings. While there may have been other plantations that exceeded it in finery, to the people of Greene County Alabama, it probably seemed like a palace.
So what do we know about the 180 year history of Rosemount, a mansion that survived a Civil War, a post-apocalyptic Reconstruction and the hard times of the early 20th century? Until recently, not a whole lot really. Rosemount was one of the most difficult old homes I have run across when it came to finding a lot of historical data on the house. Like an eccentric old Southern widow, the house itself was a reclusive place, located a great distance off of the main road in a wooded area, surrounded by fallow fields once rich with cotton that are now fenced in to keep others out. No doubt it in its heyday it must have been a most impressive site, sitting on its hill, surrounded by its land, a symbol of wealth and power to the many poor Alabama residents that lived in the areas around it.
Although architecturally significant in many respects, Rosemount wasn’t unique when it came to the number of Antebellum Greek Revival plantations in the area. A sister plantation mansion, Thornhill, was located within a couple of miles of Rosemount and in the nearby town of Eutaw, a variety of Antebellum mansions, such as Kirkwood Plantation, all stood as a testimony to the prosperity of the cotton grower in the mid 19th century. All of that changed during the course of the American Civil War, after which the Black Belt section of the Old South, and really the entire South in general, emerged broken in more ways than one. The cotton economy, built upon the backs of slaves, was in shambles and the once wealthy and proud families were little better off than their neighbors who tilled small farms and struggled to make ends meet.
While this was a condition the latter had lived with before, during and after the war, it was a difficult transition for the “new poor” as they continued living in their grand homes, surrounded by all manner of finery with barren food pantries and empty pockets. Their inherent pride and sense of family history kept many of them on the land and they stubbornly clung to the homes that they no longer had the workforce or the money to maintain and preserve. Surviving through Reconstruction and the years beyond without the vast labor force of the slaves and the profitable income they brought in, priorities changed and suddenly, the plantation owner had to make choices between feeding his family or a new roof, between horses needed for labor or a coat of paint on the big house. As a result, many of these old plantations fell into ruin and were eventually reclaimed by the land.
Rosemount fared better than many and hung on but by the time the last descendents of Williamson Allen Glover to occupy the house were living there, it too was showing signs of neglect and disrepair.
Part 3: Finding the Pieces of the Puzzle
There wasn’t much to be found on the web or through the normal channels of information that chronicle the passage of time at Rosemount in the century that followed the War. All I really had to go on was the scattering of pictures that could be found on the web and some general information on Wikipedia, much of which led me to believe that those who lived on at Rosemount must have valued their seclusion at the old plantation. Though it is certain the local population knew of the existence of the grand old home, the lack of available photographs gave the impression that few of them visited in those years. The excellent series of photographs from the Library of Congress painted a vivid picture of the effects of time and probably a state of near-poverty for its inhabitants in the 1930′s but beyond that, there wasn’t much to indicate whether the historic home was still even there, much less what condition it might have been in.
I got an idea one evening when I was making one of my random searches in hopes that something new had turned up and I fired up Google Earth and located the site of the plantation. Sure enough, there it was, plainly indicated in the photograph but very much isolated and alone, a good distance from other buildings. From the Google Earth image, I was able to see not only the land that surrounded it but the driveway (which I touched up in the aerial photo to show better definition of it) but beyond an image of the pillar gates, it was impossible to tell the condition of the home. Rosemount was as well concealed from those who might want to see it as was any information about it.
As luck would have it, one day I finally stumbled across two pictures that someone had posted to the web and they had been taken in the latter part of 2011. As the large photographs unfolded, I finally had the opportunity to see Rosemount in the present and in living color. The mystery of this house only deepened as I saw the mansion and its current condition. From the photographs, the house appeared almost pristine, unblemished and every bit as stately as it has looked for almost 200 years. Its paint was nearly flawless, not exactly white but tinted a slight shade of ecru; its columns untouched by time, its portico and cornice straight and even; in short, it looked almost as good as it probably did when it was new. The windows, those not covered by shutters, were whole and the shutters were straight while the roof appeared to be almost brand new.
The scalloped tin roof of the 1930′s was gone, replaced with modern architectural shingles and the chimneys were there, although they had the appearance of having been shortened. This is not uncommon in old homes such as this one, to replace or modify the original chimneys, which sometimes were absurdly tall, to reduce the risk of them toppling in a storm and falling through the roof. Mortar will weaken over time and it is normal to see many of the old chimneys broken where fatigue and elements had taken a toll. From the two pictures, it was obvious that Rosemount was whole and in a remarkable state of preservation. It was also obvious that the house has been completely abandoned for some time and therein lay the greatest mystery of this mansion.
The house, as depicted in the 2011 photographs, was rapidly being overtaken by the natural elements around it. Tall grass and weeds completely covered the front yard and young trees including both pines and hardwoods were growing all around the front of the mansion. In one picture it was observable that at least a few young trees were starting to come up through the front porch of the residence and there appeared to be either plaster or mortar missing from the front steps where one of the young saplings may be exerting force against the stairs which could easily cause this covering to crack and dislodge.
Beyond this new growth, at least two of the original oak trees were visibly intact, although there was evidence that there are large dead branches which have fallen in the yard from the one nearest to the residence. The two pictures also give a fairly clear view that both the east and west wings of the mansion are still intact as well, although they appear to have severe vegetative encroachment that makes access to them difficult.
High above all of this neglect, the crowning cupola appeared perfectly intact and whole, shining in the afternoon sun. Peering closely at the cupola, you could make out that the windows around the door were intact and the porch ceiling had been painted sky blue, a common theme found in old plantation houses. Small lights had been installed in the ceiling which would beautifully light the cupola at night (and probably draw every summertime bug for two miles around) and atop the pediment sits a lightning rod to provide a measure of protection from the frequent spring electrical storms that occur in this region frequently. Around the porch, the railing was whole, each spindle in perfect alignment.
It was apparent that at some time in the past decade, someone began a serious renovation of the mansion, going so far as to have the home painted, a new roof installed and the addition of new lights and a lightning rod. The painting and roofing of so large a mansion alone would cost a signficant amount of money and would have been a labor-intensive endeavor. Someone took restoration very seriously and made an investment in securing the future stability of Rosemount and then…..what? Abandoned it? Left it to the elements and the inexorable encroachment of rapidly growing vegetation that is so indigenous to the central Alabama region and the South in general?
So many questions arise and add to this mystery. Why would someone spend so much time and funding to restore Rosemount just to walk away from it and leave it? At the time I found the two pictures, there were no readily available pictures of the interior of the mansion to be found so I was uncertain as to what the interior condition might be. Were there structural damages that weren’t visible in the two photographs that made continued restoration unfeasible? Or perhaps just prohibitively expensive to undertake during a recession that has been compared to Great Depression in so many ways. To me, it seemed such a waste and so unnecessary that, having stood for 180 years, surviving war, economic deprivations and the whims of different owners that Rosemount should be in danger of destruction from neglect at a time when so many are interested in architectural preservation.
Greene County Alabama is, by most measures of economic prosperity, a poor county today. It is also off the “beaten path” and therefore not likely a great tourist destination but it could be given the number of historic homes that abound in this county. I sought in vain for a long time to find out more information about this beautiful mansion but information sources in Greene County that are available via the internet and email are few and those I attempted to communicate with were not forthcoming with answers about the present condition of the house, its ownership or whether there were even any ongoing attempts to continue the restoration work. An email to a member of the local historical society resulted in a response that sounded like they had never heard of the place before.
Rosemount is a baby compared to the historical homes and castles in Europe, some of which are over 600 years old but in a country that was only 236 years old as of this writing, Rosemount is about as historical as one could find in the United States and in a region once dominated by these grand old mansions, only a handful survive today. That one as visibly whole is Rosemount should be allowed to crumble into dust or be slowly taken apart by nature is a crime against historical preservation. Armed only with limited information and these photographs, I decided to move forward and publish what I had and see what else surfaced and it was in February of 2012 that my first version of “Mansion of Mystery was published, along with “The Plantation Trail”. Since that time, a wealth of information has flowed my way and one by one, Rosemount has given up many of her secrets. From here, the story I have written and assembled is the result of a lot of people and I am grateful to them for their assistance and help.
Part 4: Rosemount in the 20th Century
As I alluded to earlier, there is some evidence of activity at Rosemount during the latter half of the 20th century and since the original publication of my article, more has trickled in from Glover family descendants as well as others who have a history with the mansion. Some of this information comes from period newspaper articles and advertisements but some has come from people who once owned Rosemount and who attempted to keep it whole and viable. All provide glimpses of insight into the old home’s second century.
An article from the Tuscaloosa News on May 2, 1953 stated eight members of the Unity Home Demonstration Club spent an entire day at Rosemount as the guest of the owner. In the article, it told that Williamson Allen Glover selected the name “Rosemount” because of all the wild roses he found growing on the home site before building began. The original land grants to the Glover family were framed and hanging in the entry hall, signed by Presidents James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. From the article, I also read that the “mansion formerly had twenty rooms but all of them had not been restored”.
Two and a half years later, an advertisement appearing in the Tuscaloosa News on December 4, 1955 listed the entire home and contents up for an auction that was held by the J.L. Todd Auction Company on December 14, 1955 beginning at 10:00 AM. It stated “Alabama’s Storied and Famous Grand Mansion” was built in 1830 (fairly close) and contained 20 rooms filled with rare and beautiful antiques. It listed it as the property of Mrs. Edward De Vesci. It went on to state “Never can you choose from as many items as good! Here’s where antebellum grace and culture reached its highest expression. Proud….beautiful…and full of nostalgic charm, Rosemount stands today. Built in 1830 by Williamson Allen Glover, a shipping master, with slave labor. it embodies the purest form of Greek Revival Architecture and has the prize cupola of the South”.
The article spoke of mantles imported from Italy, Bohemian glass, original furnishings from England and France, along with many treasured heirlooms, every “object of art of succeeding generations never before available at any price”, canopy beds of the Empress and Victorian periods and more. A sample of what was available included mirrors, chandeliers, lamps, a hand carved French suite in the bride’s bedroom, pre-Revolutionary andirons, stage coach trunks and the Empire banquet set of the first master of Rosemount. Rare books, slave bells and an Adam Stoddard original piano rounded out the sampling of items offered. (My thanks to Dana Deguire for providing me a copy of the auction brochure which is now included in this article)
Fast forward to October 12, 1976 where the newspaper out of Tuscaloosa reported that Rosemount would be reopened for tours according to the Alabama Bureau of Publicity. It said that “although cotton is no longer grown at Rosemount, it is a working plantation with registered polled Herefords and American saddlebred horses roaming the acres”. The article also spoke of the large reception hall, ladies parlor, the transverse hall and the bride’s room on the first floor, the six bedrooms on the second floor and the views from the cupola of the Tombigbee river. At the time the home was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Wade Cagle with a mailing address of Route 1, Box 7, Forkland Alabama 36740.
Also that year, the home was purchased from the Cagle family by David Mitchell, originally of Georgia, who moved into the home with family. In December of 2012, members of the Mitchell family, including David Mitchell and his daughter, Amanda reached out to me with more information about Rosemount and they filled in some more of the puzzle.
According to David Mitchell, “When I bought the property from Wade and Carolyn Cagle in 1976 if was not in very good shape. Though they had started a lot of the repairs, they were more cosmetic rather than the truly necessary structural repairs necessary. When [wife] Jennifer and I bought the property, I brought a good friend of mine over from Atlanta with me, Michael Wheelus who was a plumber by trade, but also an artist and competent carpenter. Jennifer [was to] oversee him and of course her wishes were similar to Carolyn Cagles; that being to completely restore the interior first instead of starting with the necessary foundation work.
Toward that, we stripped all the plaster walls down to the studs (which certainly made you appreciate both the quality of the wood and the engineering of the structure to support such massive weight). As anyone in construction would tell you, if you don’t start at the bottom, which was what Mike Wheelus wanted to do, the plaster is going to crack due to new dynamics on a foundation that was beginning to show signs of deterioration due to the crumbling of the bricks; not only the pillars, but especially the four-story fireplaces.
Not more than months after re-plastering and painting in both period and modern colors, cracks appeared in the plaster and our next major project was replacing the foundation and strengthening at least the bottoms of the fireplaces. We never did get around to replacing the bricks from the first which would be essential. I think the only redeeming fact of attacking the remodel by stripping the old plaster was when someone asked Jennifer if she wasn’t afraid to live in the house because it might be haunted, was her reply that; “No, I’ve seen it stripped down to the framing and I could see anywhere a ghost could hide, and there aren’t any”.
As far as the original paint job, we hired Lon Vance, a local painter and Lon scraped and painted. Mike drilled holes in the wood and we put in rock wool insulation, as I recall, and he plugged and caulked over the holes where we applied them. I’m fairly certain that when [current owner] Dr. Mancuso took over, he didn’t have much to do about restoring the wood. We did have to pressure wash it after 6 years because the spider nests made it look dingy because they would trap dust and debris, but after the pressure wash it looked almost like a new paint job.
In addition to the home, we somewhat restored the formal gardens, installed the swimming pool and tennis courts, put in a new septic system, replanted the fields, put in those four brick columns you mentioned, put both ponds back into good condition (which was an eternal battle with the beavers who had their own design in mind, contrary to my own). By the way, the ponds were just full of bass that all seemed to weigh over five pounds”.
David Mitchell also had some interesting stories about the house which most old houses seem to abound with. He went on to say “Some interesting anecdotes were the elevator shaft which I see you showed in your pictures was seemingly thought by a lot of the black members of Greene County to be not an elevator shaft, but a gallows and we had very little problems with theft because as my maid, Mary Lewis, a long time resident of Forkland used to admit, she was certainly sure it was haunted by the spirits of those that had been hung there.
Carolyn Cagle is who got the house put on the National Register and that created a bit of a problem for us in that when we had the plaque on the road mounted, people were always driving up and wanting to tour or visit. We sometimes did show it and sometimes had to tell people to get lost.
I remember one guy walking in on a dinner we were having and saying” Oh, I see your eating, I won’t bother, you, I’ll just take these people through the house” to which I replied, “No you won’t! Are you crazy? we’re eating!” to which he replied, “Oh, how inconsiderate of me, I’ll just show them around the grounds” to which I once again took umbrance. And his final retort was, “Well, what can I do?” to which I told him he could get in his car and drive out. Not long after that, Jennifer had a sign made to replace the National Historic Register that said PRIVATE, NO VISITORS.
I bought 640 acres that was part of the Strawberry Hill Plantation, including the house, from Bill __________ (I can’t remember his last name) who was the retired administrator of the Birmingham school system to attach to the 100 acres I bought from the Cagles, which was all that was left of the Rosemount 3,000 acres. I also added some additional acreage from retired Senator Eddins, who owned several thousand acres. I remember Senator Eddins telling me when I asked him if he would sell me a bit of his acreage, that he would because he could see I had a dream and some energy and that he “was like the setting sun, and didn’t put out as much light and heat as he used to”. I’m learning how that expression fits into life now that I’m 65. I did build the feedlots on part of the Strawberry Hill portion of the property because when I originally bought Rosemount, I had intended to make it into an Inn (those days preceded Bed and Breakfast) .
Mitchell concluded that he later decided to “revamp my whole strategy and my decision was to go into cattle and that’s why the 5,000 head feedlots got built on Strawberry Hill. I put together a program called “Natural Light Beef” and Marty Lyons, who as you noted was a noted NFL football player with the New York Jets became my celebrity spokesman, because his wife, Kellie, lived in Demopolis. Later, he and Kellie bought Rosemount in 1987 or 1988″.
Amanda Mitchell, who lived at Rosemount with her parents in the late 1970′s and most of the 1980′s informed me that at the time she had grown up there, only one side of the double staircase was in existence and the lattice work on the side porches that was pictured in the 1930′s was not part of the house. It was later restored in the mid-2000′s restoration attempt.
She also shed some light on the Rosemount formal gardens, adding that “Rosemount’s garden was designed in 1850 by an Irishman named Hapt. Camellia bushes, English boxwoods and numerous other flowering bulbs (tulips, daffodils etc) were planted. The grounds were surrounded by black walnut, magnolia and oak trees. One of the Magnolias in 1971 was designated a champion tree at over 60 inches in diameter”.
Amanda Mitchell also highlighted some of the many improvements that were made at Rosemount during her parent’s ownership of the mansion. The list included the following:
This is what I know for fact was done by my parents:
- Central Heat and Air -1979 dual system 4 Phase
- Underpinning and Foundation work completed in 1979 (1 year)
- House repainted 1979
- All ceilings on porches replaced 1979
- Column Bases Reworked 1979
- Security and Industrial Fire system installed 1979
- Walnut woodwork in foyer and twin parlors refinished
- Foyer and twin parlors ceilings plaster was replaced with sheet rock
- Plaster work done extensively throughout the home on walls and ceilings
- Heart pine floors in twin parlors, great hall and upstairs cross hall refinished
“The water for the house was sourced from 2 hand dug wells. And 2 deep wells.
Original Gas chandelier converted to electric in Dining room”
On growing up at Rosemount, Amanda Mitchell had much to add to the growing knowledge of this home and its history, including where the modern kitchen was located and used, possibly after the old one had been torn down.
“The 1st floor on the north side was a kitchen while I grew up there. I will ask my parents about if there was a kitchen that they removed or if it was already gone but they did all they could to bring it back to the original state per floor plans they had. The only modern additions they did was upgrade the systems and then added the pool and tennis courts. We also owned the adjoining property Strawberry Hill as well.
It was an amazingly happy childhood there and under the mighty magnolia is buried 2 of my German shepards, a Scottish terrier, a Yorkshire terrier and our Amazonian cockatoo..we would open the house for tours and we always entertained. We did have a landing strip behind the caretakers home near the dog kennels for our plane. We sold the house after my parents divorced to our friend Marty and Kelly Lyons, whom are still friends and they gave it to her mom, Maxine Parrish, who later sold it to Dr. Mancuso.
My father did create a breed of cattle as well as the first organically fed and naturally light beef that we later sold to the Bruno’s food chain. My mother was a model. My father’s side of the family was from Georgia and our great-great g.g.g.g grandfather was Governor of Georgia while Alabama was still a territory. Mitchell County and Fort Mitchell were both named after him and my mother’s family was from North Alabama.
A little known fact about the cupola glass windows is they were the original windows from Glover and he had each daughter as they got engaged right the name and the suitors name and date on the window with their rings. (We assumed to see if the diamond was real).
On September 23, 1983 the home was a featured part of the Greene County Historical Society’s annual pilgrimage, a tour of homes and historic landmarks in Greene County that had apparently been going on for some years, as well as the following year on September 22, 1984. Beyond the year’s of the Mitchell family ownership, there was very little to be gleaned from the news sources but I kept watch for new material and published my first article about the house, hoping answers would come. I was to find that I wasn’t the only one interested in Rosemount and what was happening to it because within a few weeks, I began to get comments and feedback, some of which was from people with direct connections to the Glover family. They have added to my collection and my knowledge of Rosemount.
PART 5: UPDATES Posted April 13, 2012
I have decided to merge the second article I wrote on March 3, 2012 about Rosemount into the first one so that they could be referenced together. I have also moved the comments from part 2 over here as well and I will post future update on this page so check back! Thanks for all the comments. Every little bit of information is helpful and interesting. More is coming!
More photographs have been located of Rosemount Plantation, thanks to the Alabama Film Commission who has included the mansion in its database of locations suitable for filming movies. The photographs, taken in 2005, help to identify the period in which the most recent renovation was taking place and supported my theory that at some point only a few years earlier than the two 2011 pictures, a serious attempt at renovation was undertaken. Subsequently, despite all the work that was obviously done on the house to bring it back to its pristine condition, it was left to the elements once again.
These pictures are the first modern series of photographs I have seen since the original 1934 Historic American Building Survey pictures and they provide one interior view as well as a first time view (for me) of the rear of the residence. From these, it appears that the original slave kitchen which had originally been detached and was later moved to and attached to the rear of the house, has been removed completely. A new rear entrance with columns and a small pediment roof has been put in its place. This particular kitchen was probably not salvageable. Enjoy these beautiful photographs of Rosemount at the height of restoration.
Here Rosemount is seen very much as the essence of antebellum style and grace
A side view of the mansion with an excellent angle on the massive cupola music room on the top of the house
The first modern view I have found of the complete rear side of Rosemount. Note the absence of the kitchen from the 1934 photograph that has been replaced with a small porch entrance.
The road to Rosemount, picturing the final section of the long driveway to the mansion, a scene almost synonymous with the South.
A collage of photographs shows the rear and west side of the mansion
A collage of photographs shows the south entrance and adjacent land
Interior photograph of one of the downstairs rooms
I realize my research of this house is flawed and my conclusions are admittedly drawn from a handful of both old and new photographs but I am hopeful that as other, more knowledgeable people come across this article and read about Rosemount, that more information might be added to what I have. I welcome comments, observations and especially, insight from those who may have the facts or even memories about this beautiful home, truly one of my very favorite homes on the Plantation Trail. Perhaps it might even draw enough interest to spark someone to look into seriously preserving this important piece of our Southern history and heritage.
I must also say that for a house that I have never personally been within 50 miles of, this project has taken on quite a life of its own. I am especially appreciative of the people that I have talked with that have provided me with some insight and materials to help me showcase this national treasure and I would be remiss if I did not include them here so I am especially grateful to the following:
Dana Evans Deguire
Brock Jones, Owner of Thornhill Plantation
David Mitchell, Owner of Rosemount from 1976-1988
Amanda Mitchell, resident of Rosemount, same period
Photo Credits: 1939 Postcard, Author’s Collection
Painting by Felix Kelly
Historic American Buildings Survey (2 photos)
Wikimedia, User Rammerjammer
Amanda Mitchell, various photographs
Historic American Buildings Survey Blueprint
Auction Brochure provided by Dana Deguire.
Other photographs by the Alabama Film Commission, 2005