September 10, 2012

Researching Serendipity

Will the real Serendipity stand up? I'm desperately looking for the history of this house, known formally as the P.T. Glass House, the date when it was built in particular.  You know that I just love digging into things so this is right down my line.  What brought this on, you ask? I'm glad that you did.

When I bought the house, five years ago, I was told that it was over a hundred years old. That it originally belonged to the Honorable Presley T. Glass.  I was good with that...until I started hearing too many different versions.  Now, no one disputes his ownership. It is the date when it was built which is in question. And, I'm raising questions of my own. One thing is for certain and two things are for sure, the house is definitely over a hundred years old.

A citation in Lauderdale County From Earliest Times, published in 1957, reads:  
Col. P.T. Glass, Mr. and Mrs. Ed Palmer, and Mr. and Mrs. Abernathy and others lived at times in the home now owned by Mr. and Mrs. W.T. Savage.  This home is over 100 years old.
Somewhere in the Enterprise newspaper archives is a photo of the house in 1918.  Can't wait to see that. Another resident stated firmly, "It was definitely there in 1937 because I lived next door." That explains why there is a concrete pad protruding into the flower bed along the fence line between me and the Enterprise.  So when did the property line change?  That may not be a question that I want to ask.  Billie Morris, a resident of Ripley, has written several books on the county and the homes.  Her latest book includes information on the house but says that it was built around 1900.

Here's the rub:  If P.T. Glass lived here, in this house, it would have been built before 1873. Why?  According to a deed that I found, he sold the lot and a structure to I. J. Adair, in 1873. This answers my question as to why his place of residence, at the time of his death, was a hotel. Secondly, according to the 1957 book, it was over a 100 years old then, so it couldn't have been built in 1900.  And, to add more intrigue, another lady swears that the house was moved to its present location from somewhere else.

So just when the hell was the house built?  Is this the original structure referred to in the 1873 deed or a "newer" one?  There are several architectural features--dutch door; wavy glass; rimlocks--which suggest that it was built prior to 1900.  The surest way to tell when a house was built is to check the toilet; a date was inscribed on the inside of the water tank or its lid. That works if the original toilet is still in the house. I'm sure that the original toilets were removed years ago; I definitely removed the ones that were here when I moved in. So that's out. So is checking the Sanborne fire maps which gave very good descriptions of the property, date it was built, etc. It doesn't appear that TN was included.

Somewhere in this town, county, and state, there is a resource which contains the answer. More trips to the courthouse are in order. Maybe one of the members of the historical society will have information.  At any rate, I'm having fun.  Stay tuned.

Be safe. Be Blessed.

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