House Crush: Amazing Victorian Architecture in Florence, AL
by Leona Jaeger
Near the Tennessee River and not too far from the Tennessee and Mississippi borders lies a group of communities known together as “The Shoals”. It includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, Tuscumbia, and Florence.
The area boasts an amazing history: from the rich—although heartbreaking—history of Native Americans including the Trail of Tears, which was the 1838 forced movement of the Cherokee people out of the area westward; an abundance of Civil War stories as both the Union and Confederates had at times taken over Florence; and the musical roots of the “Muscle Shoals Sound” —a blend of influences from hillbilly, spirituals, and blues (among others) and includes recordings from such greats at Clarence Carter, Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, and a slew of others. With a long list of historical markers and sites, there is no shortage of character to admire in the buildings of this area, including our featured House Crush. You can check out the full listing on CIRCA.
This gorgeous Victorian was built in 1884 and I’m giddy over the details! I just want to hug the goo out of homeowners who, when updating/renovating an old home, stay as true to the architectural style as possible and preserve what they can. The house’s exterior is crisp with a lovely balance of shingles and clapboard siding, shingled gables, arched porch with sawn decorative details, and turned spindles and columns. I always love a high-pitched roof and tall, narrow windows that add to the vertical visual and create more height and elegance.
If that wraparound porch doesn’t tempt you to come through its lovely arches (have you been feeling well lately??), then I’m sure the allure of the stunning woodwork in the entryway will! The base of the staircase is wide with bullnose steps awaiting for you to alight and sweep you upwards to a gorgeous warm-toned solid wood balustrade accented “just so” with turned spindles and rosettes. Not too fussy, not too plain. There are several fireplaces; a couple have original mantels that are blessed with the beautiful carved garland detailing and one is surrounded by Italian marble. High ceilings, hardwood floors, tall baseboards—touches that always add that extra “wow” and reflect the true craftsmanship of the time.
Bathrooms have been updated but stay true to the feel of the original, including a claw-foot tub. I don’t know what it is about a claw-foot tub that appeals to me; it holds water like every other tub, but there is something about the comfort in the curves and whisking away to another time and place—a happy place, if you will. However, if you prefer the more modern whirlpool type, there’s one of those, too.
Speaking of comfort, we all know that the kitchen is the heart of the home: where friends and family gather and share; Mom makes everyone’s favorite tasty comfort dinner or decadent dessert; the place plenty of holiday turkeys or hams have been prepared and carved; and where we all search for the place our not-so-favorite sibling (at the moment anyway) has hidden the last of Mom’s gooey chocolate chips cookies. I bet the kitchen in this home has many of those stories to tell! Who *wouldn’t* want to be in this kitchen! Fabulous cabinetry with tall cupboards, granite countertops, tons of space and storage (keep an eye out for a stashed cookie jar) and a lovely and welcoming warm terra-cotta color. Truly a warm heart in this home, indeed! I would never want to leave this kitchen even if it *doesn’t* have cookies hidden in it!
Take a look—see what you find there and fall in love!
AUTHOR LEONA JAEGER
From the sturdy practicality of a colonial saltbox, to the lavish details of a High Victorian, Leona believes that each old home holds a beauty, solid craftsmanship, and history that is a mystery and wonder to be explored and appreciated. Leona’s dream is to find a huge farmhouse with high ceilings, wide-planked floors (complete with hidden artifacts under a loose plank), a wraparound porch, and enough acreage to house a horse or two, some dogs, cats, goats, and a ring-tailed lemur. In her spare time she can be found with her face pressed and distorted against the car window, ogling the fantastic old homes in the surrounding areas of Pasadena, California where she lives with her loving husband (who patiently peels her face off the windows and tells her to breathe) and her vivacious 9-year-old daughter.