Snapshots of History
The photos are even more delightful in person, and many of them have writing on the back, indicating who the people are and where and when the photo was taken. Some even say when the house was built.
Here, according to the back of the picture, is Frances Freeborn Pauley (who would later become a public school teacher and Civil Rights activist), William Elbridge Freeborn, Josephine Andrews Freeborn and William Wallace Freeborn. It's dated 1907.
Isn't that a darling house? And is that an outhouse I see?
Next is my favorite house of the lot, built in 1893, photo taken 1910:
I was all fired up to go to Decatur, Ga., or Montgomery, Ala., and track this place down. To knock on the door and gain entrance, waving this photo like a badge.
But then I saw another photo of a different house - a large Craftsman - but with the same address listed on the back. And the words: Built 1915 to replace house that burned in 1914.
I studied the two photos and realized they both have the same church to the left. This Victorian mansion burned down 91 years ago. My heart just sank as I saw it. All that beauty up in smoke, literally.
It makes me nervous about my own house's mortality. And it makes me long for photos like these of my house. Surely some exist somewhere. Two or three of the original owners' grandchildren are still living, and I have a plan to meet with them. Of course, they don't know it yet.
These photos also make me wonder if some of the other houses are still standing. And if they have owners out there hoping for a glimpse of the way their house once was. Random Internet Person, if one of these houses is yours, I will sell you the photo for what I paid for it, just to get it back home.
326 Catoma St., Montgomery, Ala.
211 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Ala.
614 S Court, Montgomery, Ala.
I looked at the Google satellite images of these addresses and saw nothing that looked like houses. More like office buildings. More like parking lots. Montgomery has a lovely historic district, but I've only been there once so I can't say. I hope the addresses are wrong or I'm reading the satellite images wrong. I hope these houses haven't all gone the way of the dinosaur.