A Unique Montgomery Legacy
1853 - 1943
Gleaming in pristine glory from a completed exterior restoration, the 151 year-old, edifice at 409 South Union Street beckons all to a more intimate acquaintance with Montgomery's past. Enshrined on city, state, and national historic registries, the Jackson Community House is a unique cultural resource with white and black principals, thus reflecting the locale's past and present population concentrations. As a consequence, however, of the region's historic segregation, the two groups held forth from the home sequentially, rather than together.
During its first life (1853-1943), whites occupied the house. Alabama native Jefferson Franklin Jackson, US. Attorney for northern and middle Alabama built the structure for genteel southern living. Its interior conformed to the dogtrot pattern: wide central halls led to rooms on both sides. The first floor encapsulated dramatic effect, with huge ceilings, impressive chandeliers, crown molding, the hint of an arch around large doorframes, mantled fireplaces, oversized pocket doors between the main parlor and living room, and a decorative curved arch separating the front and rear halls. Off the front hall, French doors led into the front parlors. Moreover, eight sets of French doors with louvered shutters topped by glass panes opened onto an L-shaped verandah extending around the front and northern exteriors. Undoubtedly, Jefferson Jackson, his wife, and children, enjoyed entertaining on warm evenings in well-appointed first floor rooms when breezes through the numerous exterior doors air-conditioned the space. During Jackson's nine years in his hilltop abode, he fraternized with state governors and other dignitaries on a variety of occasions, from highbrow galas to desperate political meetings. Upon his death, the property passed to his widow, Eleanor Clark Jackson. After several years, she married her husband's former law partner, Thomas H. Watts, an Alabama Civil War governor, and former Confederate cabinet member. The family retained the homestead for decades, constructing a rear addition in 1900, but leaving the original rectangular structure remarkably intact.
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