Dearing-Swaim House, 2111 14th Street



Dearing-Swaim House, 2111 14th Street


Houses and homes


This home, originally known as the Alexander B. Dearing Mansion, was built between 1831 and 1842 by Alexander Dearing, who made his fortune in slaves and cotton in Mississippi before moving to Tuscaloosa. Although Dearing owned a plantation in Columbus, Miss., he chose to live in Tuscaloosa for its educational opportunities.

With several daughters in the Dearing family, the house became a center of social activities. The Dearings furnished their home with appropriate and beautiful French furniture. Some of that furniture has been loaned for use at the Battle-Friedman House by descendants of the Dearing family.

Built with slave labor and an "educated slave" foreman, the structure is said to be the best example of Greek Temple-type (with columns around three sides) architecture remaining in Alabama. It has never had to be restored. The original sheet metal roof lasted about 125 years and was duplicated exactly when replaced. The house has marble mantles, silver door knobs, and plastered frescoes.

In 1864, the home was not burned by Federal troops because the lady of the house scrambled her last "setting" of turkey eggs and fed the tired, hungry youths in the group sent to burn her home. For her kindness, they thanked her and left her and her children untouched.

The house was at one time the home of Dr. W.S. Wyman, once president of the University of Alabama, and is the boyhood home of the late Congressman Walter Flowers. Dr. Wyman was the son-in-law of the builder and Congressman Flowers was the grandson of the last owner.

The building represents a period in the development of the South that is important to America's history. It was built while Tuscaloosa was the state capital and Tuscaloosa was the head of navigation of the Black Warrior River at the time.

The 2nd owner of the house was Major James A. Spence. Spence, a Scottish immigrant, and his wife bought the home from the Dearing family in 1888. The Spences' most notable contribution to the home was the extreme Victorinization.

In 1919, after the death of Major Spence, Samuel G. Swaim bought the house.

The home is now commonly known as the Dearing-Swaim House. Many of the Victorian features have been removed.

(The Graphic, May 15, 1969; "Past Horizons," The Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society, 1978)


Tuscaloosa News Archive


circa 1907


Jason Townsend (Description)






Tuscaloosa (AL)

Social Bookmarking