Monday, April 18, 2011

Whitaker House Nomination

As the process moves forward...

the first draft of the National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Newton Whitaker House is due at the end of May!! Whew! Wish me luck, people!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Newton Whitaker House, cont.

Bob Motlow surveys tornado damage
Before Newton's death in 1878, he sold his house to his son-in-law, R.A. Rees and a cousin of Fayetteville. However, in 1903 the house once again changed hands, this time bought by Mr. Robert Lee Motlow-also known as Bob. Mr. Motlow was a cousin to the famous Lem Motlow, owner of Jack Daniel's Distillery in neighboring Lynchburg. Mr. Motlow resided in the house until his death in the 1950s.
In 1909 a devastating tornado struck the Mulberry area, and according to the local newspaper Bob suffered the greatest property damage in the area. As is seen in these photos, nearly 2/3 of the top story of the Newton Whitaker house was ripped away, leaving the once beautiful home almost unrecognizable.
Another shot of tornado damage
Fortunately, though, Mr. Motlow was a rather wealthy man. As such, he was able to have the house rebuilt exactly as it was before. According to family history, Mr. Motlow hired a crew from Nashville and had them camp on the premises until the house was completely rebuilt. It may seem far-fetched that a house that had sustained such severe damage could be salvaged, but I assure it is true. To this day, the only obvious signs of change are noticed in the variances of brick color on the back portions of the house (as is seen below).
brick variation

Fortunately, for those of us interested in such things, there are some surviving photos from before and after the tornado to give us some great examples of what the earliest versions of the house looked like.
Newton Whitaker House in 1905. Note the taller chimneys before the tornado.

Whitaker House c. 1940s or 1950s.

Whitaker House 2010, post restoration

The Whitaker House has undergone extensive restoration and preservation since the 1980s. In the next post, I will share with readers some photos and descriptions of what such a project requires.