Foster-Murfee-Caples House, 815 17th Avenue

Foster.JPG

Title

Foster-Murfee-Caples House, 815 17th Avenue

Subject

Houses and homes

Description

Located at 815 17th Ave., in the heart of Tuscaloosa’s Druid City Historic District, the house was built by Marmaduke Williams, a representative in the Alabama State of House of Representatives from 1821 to 1839. The house was a wedding gift from Marmaduke Williams to his daughter Agnes Payne Williams and her husband Hopson Owen.

This Greek Revival three-story house was built in 1838 by slave labor. The structure is rectangular with two end-interior chimneys on each side. The side and backs are weatherboard; the front is plastered.

There are four gables on the roof - one at the front, one on each side, and one in the back. The gables at the front and back have grille work and doors with six-paned square transoms and sidelights open onto the third floor.

Six Doric columns support the roof and a matching pilaster at each end of the porch rests against the corner wall.

The porch, as well as the brick foundation, has been cemented. The two banistered back porches, stretching across the first and second floors, have been removed. Otherwise, the exterior has not been greatly changed. Except on the third level, the wide-planked floors have been replaced with hardwood.

In 1861, Agnes and Hopson’s daughter, Laura, married James T. Murfee in the home’s front parlor. Murfee taught mathematics at The University of Alabama and led the student cadet corps into action when federal forces invaded Tuscaloosa in April 1865.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the University was militarized and the all-male student body became the Alabama Corps of Cadets, led by Murfee. When Croxton’s Raiders reached the University April 4, 1865, Murfee rallied his cadets on the front lawn of his home, now 815 17th Ave.

The plantation was sold in 1911 and open fields surrounding the home gave way to city streets and bungalows. Soon after, the house itself was subdivided into six apartments to provide housing for UA students.

In the 1960s, the house was owned by Jennie Caples. The house’s second floor balcony was a backdrop for a Playboy shoot in fall 1982. Playboy magazine came to Tuscaloosa looking for a genuine Southern belle to represent the University in the first “Girls of the SEC” issue.

("Past Horizons," Tuscaloosa Preservation Society, 1978; Crimson White 8/20/2013)



Creator

Betty Slowe

Source

Betty Slowe

Date

Sept. 24, 2013

Contributor

Betty Slowe (Description)

Type

Photograph

Identifier

1082

Coverage

Tuscaloosa (AL)

Original Format

Photograph

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