The Jemison Mansion, which is located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was constructed over the years of 1859 to 1862 by Senator Robert Jemison Jr. Jemison was said to be a shrewd man when spending money on his home so it explains why the house was constructed by the work of slaves and materials from his many slave plantations. Jemison was a very wealthy business man and owned many sawmills and coal mines. The Jemison household was very advanced for its time having a plumbing system, indoor lighting, a relatively modern refrigerator, a gas stove, and indoor lighting. Jemison owned six plantation homes and over 500 slaves and started becoming involved in Alabama politics in the 1830s. Although the Jemison mansion was created pre-civil war, Jemison worked with the Confederate army as a defendant of the south. Jemison was a large advocate for the building of an institution for the mentally insane (Bryce Hospital) in the city of Tuscaloosa. The architectural firm Sloan & Stewart was brought from Philadelphia to build both the original hospital and the Jemison home. Although the house looks to be finished, while it was in the hands of Jemison and his family the house was never completed, partly due to the timing of the eruption of the Civil War. A notable fact is that after the end of the Civil War, Jemison was a large part in the rebuilding of the University of Alabama due to the fires on campus and destruction. After Jemison's death in 1871 and post-Civil War, the Jemison house changed hands many times to a distant relative Jemison-Van de Graaf who has restored the house to its relative state. The house was previously used for a public library until the late 1970s, to now being a space for tours and large celebrations.
Construction on the Jemison-Van de Graaf Mansion began in 1859. The architects, John Stewart and Samuel Sloan, designed Bryce Hospital too. Skilled slaves completed the majority of the construction, additionally most of the materials used came from plantations. The house consists of a foyer, a library, and not one, but two parlors. There is also a verandah. The Civil War, however, caused planned features for the house to remain incomplete.
The owner, Robert Jemison Junior, took part in a variety of occupations, owning as many as six plantations and more than five hundred slaves. Jemison became Senator Jemison for the state of Alabama. His opinion was not a secret. He was against the Union, but he served on the Confederate Senate. After the Civil War, with his money lost, he helped the effort to rebuild the University of Alabama.
The house was attained by the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society and the Heritage Commission of Tuscaloosa. These organizations started renovations on the building, which continue today. This piece of history, located just inside Tuscaloosa, can be rented out for a variety of events.
Visiting the house was a blast from the past. The architecture is like nothing you would find today. That is just the beginning. The inside of the house, though renovated, resembles that of the 1800s. The information that I have learned in class allowed me to imagine the reality of the time while in the house.