The Belle Mont Mansion, located in Tuscumbia in Colbert County, is one if the 10 Surviving Alabama Mansions.
Tuscumbia is basically a suburb of Muscle Shoals Alabama and is about 25 miles west of Decatur in Northern Alabama on old US Highway 72.
The Plantation itself is located just south of Tuscumbia and west of route 43, making it one of the Alabama backroads neatest destinations.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 23, 1982, for one very basic reason, its architectural significance.
The Belle Mont Mansion is one of the few examples of the Palladian style Plantation, not only in the state of Alabama, but in the entire South.
It was built somewhere between 1828 and 1832 for Dr. Alexander W. Mitchell, a native of Virginia and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh.
While the actual architect and builder remains totally unknown, what is known is that it looks a lot like the work of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello.
The resemblance is very similar and at least one blueprint for Monticello was found in the mansion.
However, Dr. Mitchell also grew up in Louisa County, Virginia, which is about 25 miles from Monticello and the home of Thomas Jefferson.
But these are not the only common connections, as the house also clearly displays traits that are extremely close to the same Palladian architecture that Jefferson developed. Here are some of the traits that they shared.
Dr, Mitchell was one of the first very large-scale planters or farmers in the area, and as such, he owned lot of slaves that were needed to tend to his 1,600 plus acres.
He was not only a physician and a planter, (which means a large properly owner in pre-Civil War terms), he was also an elected official of Franklin County.
He also helped to start the Presbyterian Church in the town of Tuscumbia.
However, after the tragic death of his first wife, and his later remarriage, Dr. Mitchell put this lovely mansion up for sale and eventually moved to Pennsylvania.
The ads that he ran to help sale the land and the Belle Mont Mansion in a Huntsville newspaper were quite interesting a read as follows.
For Sale, a brick dwelling home that is 76 feet across the front and has all of the necessary houses.
And then to finish it said, the home also has 1.760 acres that are planted in very fine clover, corn, and cotton as well as a thriving orchard.
In the year 1933, Mr. Isaac and Catherine Winston purchased the plantation, and like Dr. Mitchell, he had roots in Virginia.
Either by coincidence or by fate, a Winston cousin, a Mr. Isaac Coles, had been the private secretary to Thomas Jefferson.
Mr. Winston operated The Belle Mont Mansion as a cotton plantation, and in 1860 census, he was listed as owning 114 slaves.
Three years later, during the middle of the Civil War, he died.
Catherine, his widow, lived in the hose until her death in 1884, and later generations of the Winston family continued both ownership and working the land.
In 1941 the family sold the mansion and in 1983, the owners Mr. and Mrs. Ben Fennel and Mr. and Mrs. Peter Vials, donated the house and 35 surrounding acres to the state of Alabama.
The AHC, the Alabama Historical Commission, was able to save this extremely significant and architecturally rare house.
It is now working on a long-term plan to restore, interpret, as well as preserve it for all future generations.
This gorgeous plantation was considered by most all scholars to be a clear example of Thomas Jefferson’s influence on architecture in the Deep South.
Built in red brick it has as its features a raised two-story central section the is flanked by one story wings.
The side wings actually project towards the back or rear of the home in a U shape, which forms an almost semi-enclosed rear courtyard.
The out-buildings are no longer standing.
If you like old homes and magnificent architecture, The Belle Mont Mansion is one of the 10 Surviving Alabama Mansions you need to visit.
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