Reverie Historic Home is a house museum and historical landmark in Marion, Perry County. Dating from 1858, it is located in the West Marion Historic District, which covers 200 acres and includes more than 100 contributing properties. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on April 22, 1993. The house is a privately owned residence and was known for many years as the Whitsett-Hurt-Hanna House for its builder and subsequent owners.
Reverie Joseph Thompson Whitsitt (sometimes Whitsit), a plantation owner and railroad investor, constructed the Greek Revival home in 1858. It features more than 5,000 square feet of interior space, five bedrooms, three and one-half baths, and two parlors. Its style is similar to many buildings in the area, including other residences, churches, and schools. Four Doric columns made of brick and covered with stucco adorn the front of the house. There are dentil moldings across the entire outside of the home and plaster moldings on the inside; the original eight-inch heart pine floors are still present on the second floor. A frieze board wraps around the entire home as well. A balcony extends over the entrance and a central hall and large staircase welcome visitors, and the top of the home features a widow’s walk supported by a balustrade. The grounds include a smoke house, greenhouse, and an exterior kitchen. A large wisteria arbor in the garden predates the home to around 1838. Muscadine grapevines also grow on the property. A parterre garden with boxwoods and a maze is believed to have been developed in the nineteenth century and was recently restored.
Reverie is a contributing property of the West Marion Historic District. Other mansions included are the Huntingdon-Lovelace-Lewis House, the King-Blackburn-Arbuthnot House, and the Gordon-Moore House. The Historic American Building Survey (HABS) documented Reverie in 1935, when it was known as the Hanna Home, for its owner at that time.
In February 1842, Hugh Davis purchased the lot that would be the future home of Reverie for $718.52. The still-empty lot was purchased by Whitsitt in 1858 for $4,000, and he built Reverie that same year. Financial struggles during the Civil War led Whitsitt to sell the home to Edward Kenworthy Carlisle, a cotton broker, for $10,000 on November 28, 1862. Carlisle, and his wife Lucinda Wilson Walthall, also built Kenworthy Hall (1860), a distinctive brick Italianate plantation house located just west of Marion that was documented by HABS as well, in 1934 and 1997.
Carlisle sold the home to David Scott, a merchant and cotton, grist, and sawmill operator and manufacturer, for $12,000 on April 28, 1863. Scott’s cotton mill was known as Scottsville and functioned as its own town, with a hotel, general store, church, and homes, and made Scott very wealthy. During the Civil War, Union troops occupied Marion and used Reverie as a headquarters; markings from soldiers can still be seen in the attic of the home. The Civil War left Scott destitute after his cotton mill was destroyed, and he died in poverty in August 1868. His wife Eliza and the nine children from Scott’s two marriages were left to tend to the properties, so she auctioned off the home in 1871 and moved to Illinois. Harrison Hurt, the son of a merchant and plantation owner, purchased the home in 1871 for $4,650, a significant decrease that reflected the poor condition of the home after the war.
Hurt’s daughter, Nellie, married Robert C. Hanna, a doctor who bought the house in 1912 so his wife could live in her childhood home; it was called the Hurt-Hanna Mansion during this time. Nellie died in 1917 and Hanna remarried and had other children. After his death, his daughter Dorothy Jane Edmonds Hanna sold the house to another doctor, William Weissinger, in 1947. Weissinger, who served as Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s Army physician, was from Perry County and had retired in Marion from his medical practice and 30 years of service in the Army Medical Corps. His wife, Sudie, called the house Reverie, its name at present.
After Weissinger’s death in 1971, Reverie continued to be a residence and passed through multiple owners. In 2005, Jack and Jackie Woods of Heflin, Cleburne County, purchased the home. Woods had served as mayor for two terms in Heflin and with his wife also owned the Cleburne News. They sold the house to Hunter Lewis in 2011, and he opened it as a house museum.
Reverie is located at 110 W Lafayette St. Church groups and Sunday school classes, garden clubs, and other groups are typical visitors, and visitors may even stay on the property. Organized tours are free, but all visits need to be arranged one day in advance with at least one hour reserved. Located nearby are Judson College, Marion Military Institute, the Moore-Webb Holmes Plantation, and the Norfolk Southern Railway Company Depot.
Hale, Jennifer. Historic Plantations of Alabama’s Black Belt. Charleston, SC.: The History Press, 2009.