Livingston, Alabama

Spence-Moon House at Livingston, AL, photo courtesy of Rural Southwest Alabama

Spence-Moon House at Livingston, AL, photo courtesy of Rural Southwest Alabama

Visit the city of Livingston, Alabama’s website here: CityofLivingstonAL.com

Most of Livingston’s early settlers came from North Carolina; others came from South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.  Because water was scarce so they settled by a spring (about two blocks south west of the Courthouse); this is now known as Spring Street.  In 1833, a commission was selected to organize Sumter County and choose the county seat.  After much debate, they selected Livingston and named it after Edward Livingston, a prominent American Jurist and Statesman.  And, in 1834, another commission was appointed to select and sell lots in the Town of Livingston.   Finally, on January 10, 1835, the Legislature of Alabama passed an act incorporating the town of Livingston.  Log houses began to pop up, and the first log courthouse was built at the intersection of Spring and W. Main Streets.   By May 1839 a map of Livingston, as surveyed into lots by William G. Myers, was placed into the county records.  That same year the county constructed a frame courthouse to replace the log structure, but it burned in 1901; the probate judge’s office was the only structure to survive the fire. The present courthouse foundation was laid on July 9, 1902.   The business section of the Town extended from the Courthouse towards the river and north to the ravine.   There were three of four stores containing a miscellaneous collection of dry goods, groceries, hardware, and almost everything the new settlers could want.

1.)       Historical Facts:

The first newspaper was issued on March 1, 1836 and was titled “The Voice of Sumter.”

The first school was taught by Miss Carey, a graduate of LaGrange School.  Soon after, a Boys’ school and a Girls’ school were organized.  Miss M. A. Allison established “Pine Hill Academy” a school for girls.

One of the earliest schools organized in Livingston was the Livingston Female Academy which was established on July 4, 1835.  The school was founded by ethnic Scots-Irish Presbyterians to educate future teachers. Jones Hall was the first building constructed on the campus in 1837 (the building was lost to fire in the 1890s). On January 15, 1840, state lawmakers incorporated the school, granted it tax-exempt status, and gave the board the authority to establish rules and regulations. Julia Tutwiler, the well-known educator, prison reformer, writer, and supporter of education for women, became assistant president in 1881. She succeeded in getting a small appropriation from the State Legislature in 1883 to establish normal school training for girls at the Academy. Tutwiler changed the school’s name to Livingston Normal School in 1886, and retired as president emeritus in 1910. The Academy went through several more name changes before assuming the name it is known by today: the University of West Alabama.

In 1861, a covered bridge was built to span the Sucarnochee River.  This bridge was moved in 1924 to span the Alamuchee Creek.  It moved to its final location on UWA’s campus in 1969 where it was restored and received the name “Alamuchee Covered Bridge.”

Andrew Jackson was President when Livingston was incorporated.

In the spring of 1834, two prominent men, Squire Hair and Square Bond, from Knoxville, TN came to Livingston and became the first lawyers.

Mr. J.C. Cusack built the first brick store, Mr. J. Abrahams built the first frame house, and Mr. Childs built the first saw and grist mill on the Sucarnochee River.

2.)       Livingston Historical Sites

Spence-Moon House and Callaway School were built ca. 1834 and are located on the University of West Alabama’s campus.  They are Federal Period style with alterations.  Spence-Moon House is currently the headquarters for the Sumter County Historical Society.  Callaway School is the last one-room school in the County and was moved from Sumterville to its present location.  Both facilities are available for receptions, weddings, teas, lectures, and other occasions by reservation.

“Lakewood” was built in 1840 and is located on Highway 11/Washington Street.  It is Greek Revival style.  Miss Julia S. Tutwiler resided here during her tenure as President of Alabama Normal College (now UWA).

Alamuchee Covered Bridge was built in 1861 of hand-hewn yellow pine and put together with pegs.  It was originally located on Old State Road but was moved to Alamuchee Creek in 1942.  In 1971, it was moved to its current location on UWA’s campus.

Webb Hall, UWA, was originally built in 1895 in honor of Dr. R.D. Webb.  It burned in 1909, was rebuilt in 1911, burned again in 1914, and was rebuilt in 1915.  It now houses administrative offices and McConnell Chimes.

“Houston-Bailey-Sparkman” House was built in ca. 1835 and is located on Highway 11.  It is Federal Period Domestic architecture.

“Ennis Corner” was built ca. 1850 and is located on the corner of Highways 11 and 28.  It is Greek Revival style.

“Our Southern Home” Building was built ca. 1835 and is located on Monroe Street.  It was originally a commercial building and has housed a newspaper, shoe shop, church Sunday school, a private school, and a gift shop.  It is now a home.

The Bored Well’s construction began in 1845 but was not completed until 1857.  The mineral water from the Well was thought to have healing elements and was sold and shipped all over for many years.  A wooden pavilion with a Chinese pagoda roof stood over the Well until the present brick structure was built in 1934.  It was restored in 1989 by the City of Livingston and the Sumter County Historical Society.  The Bored Well is located on the corner of Washington and Franklin Streets (inside Courthouse Square).

Sumter County Courthouse (Square) was built in 1902 and is located on Washington, Franklin, and Marshall Streets.  It is Beaux Arts Classicism style and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The Confederate Monument is also located inside the Square.

Old Probate-County Commission office was built ca. 1830 and is located on Washington Street.  It served as the County Public Library for many years.

Seale Law Firm was built ca. 1850 and is located on the corner of Washington and Madison Streets.  It is one of the first permanent buildings in Livingston.

United Methodist Church was built in 1892 and is located on the corner of Washington and Madison Streets.  It is Victorian Gothic style.

“Abrahams-Williams-McGahey” House was built ca. 1870 and is located on Washington Street.  It reflects in form and exterior embellishment stylistic restraint characteristic of its era.

“Trott-Upchurch” House was built ca. 1830 and is located on the corner of Madison and Spring Streets.  The nucleus of the house is an early 19th Century log structure around which the present Carpenter’s Gothic style home was built.

“Voss-Pate” House was built ca. 1850 with additions in 1875 and is located on Spring Street.  It is Vernacular style with Classical Revival/Queen Anne features.

“Coleman-Busby” House was built ca. 1885 and is located on Spring Street.  It is late 19th Century stylistic eclecticism with fashionable ornamental elements.

“Little-Ennis-Schmidt” House was built ca. 1840 and is located on West Main Street.  It is Vernacular style with Greek Revival influence.

“Schulman-Brock-Holycross” House was built 1903 and is located on West Main Street.  It is Victorian style.

“Harris-Ennis-White” House was built ca. 1840 and is located on Main Street.  It is Greek Revival style.

“Desha-Dorman” House was built ca. 1845 and is located on West Main Street.  It is Restrained Greek Revival style.

“Pleasant Ridge” was built ca. 1842 and is located on West Main Street.  It is Greek Revival style.

St. James’ Episcopal Church was established in 1833 and built in 1836.  The building was consecrated by Leonodis Polk in 1843.  It is Greek Revival style; Gothic elements were added later.  The church is listed on the State Register of Landmarks and Heritage.  It is located on the corner of Spring and Monroe Streets.

Episcopal Rectory was built in 1870 and is also located on the corner of Spring and Monroe Streets.  It is Retardetaire Neo-classicism (as applied to a small Vernacular cottage).

“Tartt-Mellen” House was built ca. 1840, but torn down in 1992.  It was Victorian style.

“Renfroe-Hunter” House was built in 1870 and is located on Jefferson Street.  It is a Vernacular style cottage and was the home of “Outlaw Sheriff” Steve Renfroe.

“Branch-Stuart-Burnes” House was built in 1903 and is also located on Jefferson Street.  It is Queen Anne style with Classical Revival elements.  The home is listed on the State Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

“Hagood” House was built by the Methodist Church in 1898 to serve as the parsonage.  At that time it was across the street from the church, which stood in the Methodist Church Cemetery (now Myrtlewood Cemetery). Rev. Betts and his family were the first to live in the home. Between 1898 and 1960, more than 20 ministers lived on the property.  It now belongs to Margaret Russell Hagood.

“Seymour-Luke-Minus” House was built prior to 1900 and is located on Highway 11.  It is Vernacular Country Plantation style.

3.)       Other Livingston Information

Alabama Historical Association’s Newsletter “Fall Pilgrimage to Livingston”

City of Livingston website