Spence-Moon House

The Spence-Moon House is a historic residence and landmark in Livingston, Sumter County. It was built in 1834 and is one of the few remaining Federal-style homes in the area. Also known known as the Inge-Moon House, it was listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1988, with historical significance stemming from its age as well as the ownership by three Confederate veterans of the Civil War. The house is now used as an event space.

Spence-Moon House The Spence-Moon house is a two-story white Federal-style house. In the late nineteenth century, a kitchen was added on to the home to replace the original separate structure. Also, a lower portico was removed in favor of the semi-octagonal three-bay porch currently at the front of the house. The house is overseen by the Sumter County, Alabama Historical Society and hosts historical society meetings.

In 1834, planter James H. Spence received a grant of 80 acres of land from the federal government. He and other merchants and planters in newly created Sumter County contracted with a team of craftsmen from New Hampshire and Connecticut to construct 11 homes, including the Spence-Moon house. U.S. congressman Samuel Williams Inge was an early owner of the home. Inge was born in Warren County, North Carolina, in 1817 and read law in Erie, the county seat of Greene County before it was moved to Eutaw in 1838. Inge settled in Eutaw in 1839, after the town became the county seat, and then Livingston in 1840. A Democrat, Inge was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1844 and 1845 and then to the 30th and 31st U.S. Congresses, serving from 1847-1851. After he left Congress, Inge sold the Spence-Moon House to Socrates Parker in 1852. Parker also owned Lakewood, one of the 11 homes built by the New England craftsmen. Parker sold the home in 1856 to Anthony Winston Dillard, a relative of Alabama governor John A. Winston (1853-57). Dillard was probate judge of Sumter County from 1856 to 1862 and was also a noted writer. He contributed essays to the Southern Field and Fireside, the Southern Literary Messenger, the Alabama Historical Reporter, The Southern Law Journal, and many Alabama newspapers and other periodicals and composed a history of Sumter County. He frequently published using just his initials and last name, A. W. Dillard.

In 1871, Dillard sold the home to Martha Brockway, widow of Augustus Brockway, a prominent doctor in Gaston, Sumter County. Subsequently, circuit judge Samuel H. Sprott, who had been a captain in the Fortieth Alabama Regiment during the Civil War, and his wife Leonora, daughter of Brockway, purchased the home. Subsequent owners included Capt. Azariah Abney of Choctaw County and Capt. William A. C. Jones, an engineer known for building the covered bridge at the Livingston Female Academy (present-day University of West Alabama). It is one of the oldest extant covered bridges in the South. Jones was born in Casey County, Kentucky, and briefly acted as a minister. He later worked as a civil engineer, including on the New Orleans, Jackson & Great Northern Railroad, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, and the Alabama Great Southern Railroad. He also served in the Fortieth Alabama Infantry, as a captain, before becoming a captain of engineers for the remainder of the war. Jones was on the board of directors for both the Livingston Female Academy and the Livingston Normal School. Between 1887 and 1904, he was clerk of the circuit court in Sumter County. He was married to previously widowed Mary Houston McRea, whose influential family included her father Matthew Houston, an original trustee of the Livingston Female Academy. He and Mary had four children. His daughter Aline married Walter A. Sims, who purchased the house, and it became known as the Walter Sims place.

In 1924, Calvin Richmond Moon and his wife bought the home from the Sims family. The home remained in the Moon family for 63 years, until the Sumter County Historical Society (present-day Sumter County, Alabama Historical Society) purchased it for $50,000 in 1987. The home was then quickly restored, and furniture and decorations were either purchased from or donated by community members, including antiques such as a spool bed and a Victorian sofa. The house has been used as a community center, and a resident manager lived on site for a time to help with the numerous functions held there, including historical society meetings, sorority events for the University of West Alabama, book clubs, Daughters of the American Revolution events, receptions, afternoon teas, and other club meetings.

On the property, separate from the Spence-Moon House, is the Calloway School, a one-room schoolhouse that housed a museum run by the historical society. The museum, however, is no longer open and the schoolhouse is not in use, but it is reportedly the last one-room schoolhouse in the county. The schoolhouse replaced the McCainville School in the early 20th century; it had one large classroom with one door. The school was closed in 1927, and then became a private residence with the schoolroom divided into multiple rooms. The schoolhouse was originally in Sumterville before it was moved to the Spence-Moon property.

The Spence-Moon House is located on 207 N. Washington Street, adjacent to the University of West Alabama. Nearby are the Sumter County Court House (ca. 1902), which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, the Old Southern Railroad Depot (ca. 1875) that serves as the town's city hall, and the Branch-Stuart Home (ca. 1903), St. James Episcopal Church (ca. 1840), and the Voss-Pate House (ca. 1850), all of which are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.

Further Reading

  • Sumter County Historical Society: Homes Collection. "Moon House." SF9.D5 Folder 2, University of West Alabama, Julia Tutwiler Library, Livingston, Alabama.

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