‘Big house’ demolition noted|Forgotten Trails Column

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, April 22, 2009

By Staff
Lydia Grimes
This was taken from The Brewton Standard newspaper dated 26 February 1948. It tells part of the story about this mansion that once stood about where the main branch of BankTrust is today.
After Alex McGowin died, his widow continued to live in the house for a while. It was sold in the mid 1940’s to the American Legion. Apparently what they intended to do with it was never realized and the home was sold again in 1948.
Workmen Tear Down Old House for New Housing
Carpenters were busy during this past week tearing down “the finest house between Montgomery and Mobile.” The old Alex McGowin residence was being raised for the framing, siding and other materials it could provide for a more modern building project in Greenville.
Foster, Greenville builder, bought the McGowin house recently from R.M. Jernigan, local businessman. Jernigan acquired the property from the local American Legion post after it became evident the post could no longer maintain it.
The McGowin home was built in 1900, and was the first of the “big homes” constructed in Brewton. It is said that the owner told architects he wanted “the finest house in this section” and thus built to those specifications.
In its hay-day, the house was a show place of Brewton. The exterior was marked by the two round towers on the front corners that rose to carved wood spires. Carved windows completed the symmetry of these towers.
Ornate wood carvings decorated the outside front walls, while stained glass windows were used in the bathrooms.
A popular legend that the house was the first to have bathrooms in Brewton is not true, but the house did have the first central heating plant. A steam boiler large enough to be used by a small modern factory provided heat for the big house.
Inside, Italian marble fireplaces were found in several downstairs rooms. A delicately carved grill hung in the main hall from the ceiling where the massive stair went up. All the bathrooms were tiled and the home boasted its own water system with a big artesian well for a private supply.
The house was built of “heart” pine and workmen who are ripping it down say they are glad they won’t have to saw and nail the heart pine framing. There was only one decayed spot found in the framing, although creosote and other preventatives were not used when the house was originally erected.
The first residential sidewalk was laid in front of the McGowin home, and the plate of the contractor, George Robinson of Mobile, can still be seen near the southeast corner of the property.
If you have a story from the past that would interesting I’d love to hear about it. You can email me at lydia.grimes@brewtonstandard.com or call me at 867-4876.
Until next week, happy hunting.