Lyon Hall Constructed in the early 1850s, Lyon Hall, also known as the Lyon-Lamar House, is a house museum located in Demopolis, Marengo County. The two-story wooden frame house was the home of members of the Lyon-Lamar family until the late twentieth century. In 1997, the family donated the residence to the Marengo County Historical Society (MCHS). The MCHS currently operates the home as a museum that chronicles both the history of the Lyon-Lamar family and the nearby area and as a rental event space. The Historic American Buildings Survey, a New Deal project during the Great Depression, photographed and documented Lyon Hall, placing it on its registry in 1934. The National Register of Historic Places listed the residence on its registry in 1974.
Lyon Hall was built with slave labor for its first resident, George Gaines Lyon. He had moved from Mobile, Mobile County, to Demopolis with his wife, Annie Glover Lyon, to practice law with his uncle Francis Strother Lyon. Francis served in the U.S. Congress in the 1830s, was notable in Alabama politics, and lived at nearby Bluff Hall. George Lyon also was a planter who would later serve the Confederate and Alabama governments. Lyon was a member of a prominent Alabama family that included businessman, military figure, and politician George Strother Gaines and noted U.S. general Edmund Pendleton Gaines.
Bluff Hall Construction on the Greek Revival structure began in 1850 and finished in 1853. Sided with clapboard, the two-story home features a north-facing portico with six square, two-story Doric columns made of brick covered with stucco as well as an upper balcony with cast-ironwork railings that spans the width of the house. A smaller one-story porch located on the east side features three square wooden columns. Officials with the Alabama Historical Commission who prepared documentation for the National Register note that the house resembles Sturdivant Hall in Selma, Dallas County.
The interior of the house features a wide central hall, double parlors, drawing and dining rooms, a bedroom, kitchen, and other rooms. A staircase leads to the second floor and four bedrooms as well as dressing rooms. The house has not been altered significantly, save for electricity and indoor plumbing. The interior was decorated with furnishings the family ordered from New York, and many of these original pieces can be seen on display today.
The house remained in the Lyon-Lamar family almost 150 years, with its deed split among various family members. George Gaines Lamar, the great-grandson of Annie Glover Lyon, was the final resident of the house. He bequeathed his majority share and estate to first cousin Helen Nation. She then deeded her ownership to the MCHS and provided funds per Lamar’s estate to begin the preservation of the house and grounds, which had fallen into disrepair. Nation also created and endowed the Lyon Hall Charitable Foundation in memory of her aunt Annie Gaines Lyon, to help with the house’s maintenance and preservation.
Laird Cottage Taking the advice of preservation architect Brian Brooker, the MCHS decided to preserve Lyon Hall rather than attempt to restore the house to its original state. To begin the preservation process, Brooker and MCHS volunteers catalogued every article in the house, consisting of documents, textiles, housewares, and furniture. Photographs and negatives found in the home helped Brooker recreate the property’s original aspects, including the picket fence, the well house, and the original east porch.
Today, the MCHS gives tours of Lyon Hall by appointment and allows the property to be rented out as an event space. It is located at 102 South Main Avenue, Demopolis. The MCHS, headquartered in the 1870s Laird Cottage, also manages nearby Bluff Hall.