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Claude Reese

Claude Reese

Website URL:

September 23 2010

On a cool, crisp morning in December of 1861, eight-year-old Lizzie Bryan awoke from her first night's sleep in her new home to the sounds of trace chains jangling, a wagon creaking, and Mingo speaking to the team of mules. She dressed in front of the warm fire one of the house servants had built. Peering out the back window she saw smoke coming from the kitchen chimney. Aunt Polly was cooking breakfast. Once downstairs she hurried out on the front porch to see what was happening. Standing dwarfed by one of the towering Doric columns, she watched the men taking oak saplings off the wagon and planting them in a row along the dirt road. Will they all live to some day become a row of great oaks, she wondered? A jangling bell interrupted her thoughts, and she ran into the dining room to join her family for a breakfast of ham, eggs, biscuits, gravy, grits and coffee.

On the morning of May 26, 1966, eight-year-old Rachel Reese awoke from her first night's sleep in her new home to see her mother standing beside her bed with a glass of orange juice, as she would every morning until Rachel went away to college.

Central heating and cooling kept the house very pleasant, so she just put on a robe and house shoes and padded downstairs. Out on the front porch she surveyed her new front yard. Standing beside one of the huge Doric columns, she noticed a wider space between two of the trees in the long row lining the highway. One of those trees planted a long time ago did not live to become a great oak, she concluded. She heard the bell ring and ran into the kitchen for a breakfast of sausage and waffles.

So, we come to the end of our series on Antebellum Greenwood. I will now give you some trivia you may (or may not) enjoy.

We have four great books that begin June 3, 1961, a Sunday afternoon, the day before we began the restoration. Not every one of our visitors has signed these guest books, but an astonishing 5427 people have registered their name. They've come from all states except Delaware, Montana, Nebraska and Nevada. We've had visitors from 18 foreign countries - Argentina, Germany, Japan, Hungary, France, England, Rhodesia, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Thailand, Kuwait, Albania, Costa Rica, China and Singapore. We have opened the house to the public several times. Many meetings have been held here.

And oh, we've had lots of parties! I think the Christmas parties have been the most fun. I remember one when we had fires in all five fireplaces and ceiling-high decorated Christmas trees on both floors. There have been a number of slumber parties. One, when Rachel was in about the third grade, lasted all night. Becky finally went up about dawn and got them to settle down. But some never did go to sleep!

The most memorable one was Claudia's 45th birthday. At that time she was residing in Panama City, and lived quite the social life. She invited 37 ladies here for lunch. They all dressed up in hats and gloves for the occasion.

There have been sad times too. We lost Claudia to cancer in 2002, but she is ever with us through her art work that graces the walls throughout the house.

In 1993 we realized none of our girls would return home to live, so we decided we needed to make arrangements for preservation of the house. We contacted several institutions and received the most favorable offer from Harding University, located in Searcy, Arkansas. We gave the house to them, and we retain a life estate. On our deaths they will take possession. They agreed to preserve the house and enforce that condition on all successive survivors.

In the beginning I promised I would tell you a story at the end. At that time I told you Mr. Smith, from whom we bought the house, required us to restore it, paint it white and paint the shutters green. Actually, I'm going to tell you two stories.

In January 1967 we received a letter from Mrs. Mordecai N. Gist of McIntosh, Fl. It was addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Claude Reese, Marianna, Fl. We had then been living in Greenwood, Fl. seven months, but the letter still found us. She had lots of antiques. She had seen our house many times down through the years and read an article by Judge Carswell on our restoration. She had a clock, still in working order, that had belonged to General Mordecai Gist who fought with General Washington. She wanted it to go to someone who would take care of it. She thought we were acceptable. It was worth around $1500, she believed, but she would take less from us. We were broke, but told her we could pay $500. To our surprise she sold it to us and we set a time to go get it. A few days before the appointed time she called and said she had actually offered it to Colonial Williamsburg several months before, but they never responded. They had now called, decided the clock was as she described it, and offered her $5000. She told me she would still like us to have it for the $500. We released her from the deal, and the clock is in Williamsburg to this day.

We had our second open house Sunday afternoon, May 22, 1966, the day before we moved in. 508 people came between 1:00 – 5:00pm. We had people at the front door, and guides in all rooms. We asked people to stay in groups of about 15. I was in the library, alone at the time, and happened to look out in the upstairs sitting room and saw this lady alone. She was really dressed up. She had on a pink suit, corsage, pink hat, pink shoes and stockings. Quite striking in appearance. "Ma'am, have you lost your group?" I asked.

"I do not have a group," she replied.

She came into the library. "Mr. Reese, you don't recognize me, do you?" I shook my head. "No Ma'am, I don't." She said "I'm Mrs. Smith." I caught my breath in surprise. "What do you think of it?" I asked. She started crying. I joined her. We wept together, standing in the library. That's the last time I saw her, but I did attend her burial service at the Baptist Cemetery.

I close with a picture of Greenwood's seventh antebellum structure, the Great Oaks Smoke House.

The Mae Pender Harrell Home

Located side by side with The Hayes-Long Mansion on the west side of Bryan Street (Hwy 71) as you exit Greenwood going north.

It is believed Cicero Long built the Mae Pender Harrell Home. He was one of the founders of Pender's Store which was known as N.B. Long and Brothers in 1869. His initials are painted on an inside wall of the store.

Robert Russell Pender and his wife Mary Anderson lived there from 1888 to 1898. Mr. Pender was born 21 May 1846 and died 14 March 1898. Mrs. Pender was born 24 October 1871 and died 10 July 1953. Their daughter, Mae Pender Harrell was born 6 August 1892 and lived 102 years to 16 May 1994.

By 1984 the house had gotten into a depleted condition. It was bought that year by Dr. Paul Surgnier. He did a very good job of repairing it. He also made several renovations. He added the dormers, installed aluminum windows and a porch all across the front. Several things were retained to help us date it to the 1840-1850s.

A close look at the pictures show several things that give away its date. They are the double, two panel doors, the side lights and transom. We have the shiplap siding on each side of the entrance. We have the head frames showing where the original porch was located.

It was bought by Mr. and Mrs. Tom Evans of Albany, Georgia in 1988 and they still own it.

The Hayes-Long Mansion

Located side by side with the Mae Pender Harrell Home on the west side of Bryan Street (Hwy 71) as you exit Greenwood going north.

James Hayes was the builder of the Hayes-Long home. This is the same Hayes mentioned in writings regarding Longwood. The early history of both houses would be the same as the Green House and Longwood.

The Hayes-Long Mansion in Greenwood was built int he 1840's by James Hayes.  In 1885 the home was sold to Ada and William Garrett.  In 1907 the Garretts sold the home to R. W. Coulliette.

S.V. Wall, Jr. and Hay Long Wall bought the home in 1912.  In 1913 the home was sold to W. H. Long at this time W. H. Long faced athe wooden home with old brick.

The Longs were pioneers of Jackson County.  It is said Nicholas Long outfitted, by his own resources, a company of soldiers for the American Revolution.  He served as a Colonel, later Deputy Quarter Master General.  His son served as a Captain in the American Revolution.  In 1841 Dr. George Franklin Baltzell married Rebecca Hill Long.  Thomas Baltzell and Richard Harrison Long were both signers of the Florida Constitution.

The Hayes-Long Mansion was in the Long family for 63 years before it was sold by Billy Hay Williams, great-granddaughter of the Longs, to David Walters.  The mansion is now owned by the Don DeMichele family.  Cited from:  

Don and Rosalind DeMichele bought the house in 1994. They have done an excellent job of restoring it and maintaining it. They added the garage, the outdoor dining area and the wrought iron entry gate. This gate came from the carpenters union hall in Lakeland and was installed about two years ago.

The Green House

The Green House is located on Allen Street in West Greenwood. The land is of the same track described above (see Longwood).

It was located on Green Street in Marianna in 1976 where the Regions Bank is presently located. It was painted Green. At that time the Bicentennial Committee was trying to get a library started. It sat on the mover's dolly in a vacant lot. The porches had been removed and it became an eyesore. Everybody began to refer to it as the Green House and the name stuck. I think it would be more appropriate to refer to it as Dr. Wilson's home.

green-house-delongAbout 1984 Brook Bowman's three aunts, Margaret Dwight, Virginia Johnson and Dorothy Walker, who then resided in Los Angeles, bought it from the Millers. These Ladies lived here for the remainder of their lives.

The Green House was built in 1855 by Dr. W. S. Wilson of Quincy and his wife, Laura E. V. Robinson Wilson.  Laura Robinson was the daughter of Jesse RObinson, an 1812 United States Army Captain.  In 1861 Dr Wilson married Ann Robinson Roulhac, daughter of Jacob Robinson, Jackson County's first judge.  The house was sold in 1900 to R. S. Pierce.

The house of Gothic Victorian architecture faced Market Street and was turned around to face Green Street.  In 1974 the house was sold to First Federal Savings and Loan Association to be torn down to make way for a new bank building.  Jackson County was in dire need of a new public library and the Jackson County Heritage association saved the historical home in the hope of restoring it to a public library and museum.  After a year of controversy, the project was abandoned.  Work was then started to build a new building to house the library.  We owe our thanks to this historical house for bringing the dream of a new public library in Jackson County.

The house was sold to Bert Miller for $10.00 to be moved to its present location in Greenwood.  The house is now owed by Hope Walker.  Cited from:  

 

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