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Posts Tagged ‘Antebellum Architecture’

Orange Hall – A Beautiful Antebellum Home

July 29th, 2014 by Seth

 orange hall

As you drive into St. Marys you will pass a beautiful white house with big Greek columns and a wide staircase leading up to the porch. This home, Orange Hall, is a favorite among both locals and visitors alike. Prized in the antebellum era, Orange Hall’s size and Greek architecture was unprecedented here in Historic St Marys. Architecture aside, the most dominate feature was the number of large sour orange trees which encircled the property during the early years of its life – providing the name Orange Hall.

Reverend Horace Southworth Pratt, a Presbyterian minister, and his father-in-law, John Wood, purchased the property in 1826. Pratt arrived in St. Marys around 1820 to help start a church. Before construction of the home began, Pratt’s wife died.  Pratt remained in St. Marys and remarried a few years later. In 1839, Pratt, a Yale and Princeton graduate, took a position as a professor at the University of Alabama and left Orange Hall behind. General Duncan Lamont Clinch is thought to have been lived there when Pratt left for Alabama. Pratt may have had intentions of returning to Orange Hall, but he would not have the opportunity because he passed away in 1940.

This would lead to the first change in ownership, and more would follow over the years. The property was then sold in public auction in 1846 to James Monigin Smith. Here is the list of known owners over the years:

1846 – James Mongin Smith

1862 – Francis Adams

1869 – Silas Fordham

1911 – Joel Lee Sweat

1919 – James Howard Becker

1933 – S.C. Townsend – converted upper floors to apartments

1951 – St Marys Kraft Corporation – bought to house paper mill employees for 10 years

1965 – City of St. Marys

Rising two stories above ground, Orange Hall sits atop a lower level basement – housing an old dining hall, servants’ quarters, wine cellar, and kitchen. The main floor boasts a music room parlor, study, tiffany dining room, and front parlor, as well as two original chandeliers from the Becker family, residents in the 1920’s. These chandeliers are the only items that have been left behind by owners of the home over the years. However, the chandeliers are not the only pieces of Orange Hall’s history to see here on this floor.

The original Italian marble fireplaces adorn the parlors. These fireplaces are just 2 of 12 located in the house. The second floor is made up of four bedrooms – the Horsehair room, the Children’s room, the Jacquard/Duvall Room, and the Peg-bed room.

Orange Hall was recorded in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. To preserve the historical significance of the property, the exterior was recently renovated. The house has been restored to look just the way that it did when it was built. As you walk up the front steps on to the expansive porch, you can look to your right and see the First Presbyterian Church. This is the same view that Pratt saw as he climbed those steps back in the 1830’s.

Orange Hall Fireplace and Room

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