Weeden House: A glimpse into Huntsville's past

The Weeden House is on the national register of historic places.
The Weeden House is on the national register of historic places.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The Weeden House is on the national register of historic places. Inside, you get a glimpse of those people who built Huntsville. The house/museum director is Megan Melvin.

"Well, the house was built in 1819 and we've been open as a museum since about 1977," she said.

She said several families lived in the house and helped build this area. Their portraits line the stately walls.

"There have been several notable families in Huntsville, including the Mannings that owned the house, and the Lowes and the Bibbs are all kind of intertwined with the family," said Melvin.

"And in their background, there is Thomas Jefferson and two signers of the Declaration of Independence and somewhere in there is Patrick Henry," said Jessie Mauney.

Mauney is the docent for the home. She takes us on a tour, including portraits of the family.

"This is Sarah Manning and George Felix Manning, and they are distantly related to the Weedens because two of their children married some of the first family of Dr. Weeden, who is Howard Weeden's father," she said.

The artist who painted some small works in the main parlor comes from an early Huntsville line, according to Mauney.

"They were painted by Effie Davis, who is the daughter of the President of Huntsville, which is what Huntsville had before it had a mayor. And she's the niece of Nick Davis Jr., who is one of the people who married into the Manning and Weeden family," Mauney said.

She said while the structure is Federal, furniture is Antebellum and Victorian, true to the Weeden's time period.

"During the Antebellum period, they really started feminizing furniture. As you can see, this is a fainting couch. And one of the unique things about fainting couches is when women who would wear the really heavy, heavy antebellum gowns would be constricted, they would just lay down on the couch and right through here is where their skirts would fall," added Mauney.

"This is our L shaped stair case. It is unique to the house because it is a sign of wealth," she said.

While the back stairs were used by servants, the front stair case is one of only two free standing in Alabama.

"And it is unique because at the bottom of it is a mule post, and this is where they would burn the mortgage and place it after they had paid it off and they would put a little button or a decorative item on it," added Mauney, "and it's called a brag button."

No doubt Marie Howard Weeden was the money maker in the family, and she made her living by writing poetry, by painting oils, and water colors. While she was tiny in stature, she made up for it with paintings so detailed they look like snapshots.

Pictures of our past which help define our future in Bobby's Bama.

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