Holley House changing hands

Published 4:40 am Monday, September 28, 2009

By By Lydia Grimes
features reporter

Brewton will see the end of an era when ownership of Holley House changes Oct. 1.
The large building on the corner of Douglas Avenue and Rankin Street has been a landmark for more than 50 years. Built as a private residence, it soon became a hospital, then was remodeled into apartments that later served as an independent living facility for retirees.
A constant at Holley House for decades has been Lennis Holley, who once rented the apartments to the executives who moved to Brewton to open the new container mill. She later served mainly seniors interested in independent living.
Smith is also the director of Abundant Life Home in Mobile, a similar facility.
Holley House has a rich history in Brewton. It was built sometime before Jan. 4, 1915, when Edwin Marshall Lovelace and Frances McKinzie Lovelace deeded it to Kate Bell Lovelace. It was sold again on Sept. 20, 1922, by Kate Bell Lovelace and her husband, Alto V. Lovelace, to Dr. Russell A. Smith and Dr. Middleton H. Hagood.
According to Annie C. Waters’ book, “The History of Escambia County,” these two doctors, along with Dr. Frank H. Mason, established a hospital in the residence in 1922. It was known as Memorial Hospital, then Escambia Hospital and eventually everyone knew it as Dr. Holley’s Hospital. The house was sold to Roxye Neese on June 20, 1925, and then to Della Cox. The house was bought by Dr. A.F. Holley on Jan. 12, 1943.
Lennis Holley said Dr. Holley, her late husband, began working at the house turned hospital in the 1930s. Holley, who had received his medical degree at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, originally came to Brewton at the suggestion of his brother to relieve another doctor, but he stayed on and opened a practice.
Dr. Holley ran the hospital for many years and then rented the house out to the other doctors in town, moving himself to another office on Evergreen Avenue.
Current boarders at Holley House have their own rooms and bathrooms, furnished either with their own furniture or with pieces Mrs. Holley chose.
Residents share meals in a pleasant dining room and can also use the common rooms in the home, including a sun poarch.
Holley plans to retire to a home she is remodeling and hopes to do some traveling. But she said she will miss the residents at Holley House and hopes to visit from time to time.