Historic Structures

Spring Villa House, Opelika Alabama

Date added: February 16, 2018 Categories: Alabama House

William Penn Yonga built this home and was the original owner. He was his own architect.

After a trip to California, during the gold rush, Penn Yonge settled on a beautiful piece of wooded land, near a little village named for his family, Yongesborough. At first he must have lived in a log cabin. But later he "built a more pretentious home on his wooded plantation, near a very fine spring.

Here he developed a large artificial lake, said to have covered thirty acres. All the way around this lake were beautiful weeping willows, imported shrubs and trees. In the center of the lake was an island covered with lilies and roses.

Mr. Yonge had stables and a race track. He was a good sport and entertained effusively.

The Cotton - Centennial of 1874 was held here, it was at this time that the plantation estate came to be called Spring Villa.

The Chewalka Lime Company purchased this plantation home from the family of Penn Tonga.

The Renfro Estate next owned this home.

For some time, before the City of Opelika, purchased this estate, the place became famous as a park and picnic grounds for the people of the surrounding country. This is what caused the City of Opelika to buy this really beautiful estate.

For quite a number of years, Spring Villa, as the whole plantation is now called, was been the summer camping ground for the Boy Scouts of the Central Alabama Area.

In 1934 the Civil Works Administration renovated the grounds and home. Over a hundred acres of ground were cleared of underbrush to form the new park site.

The park now encompasses about 325 acres. Adding to the charm of the plantation is the legend claiming that the mid-19th century house is now haunted by the ghost of its builder, William Penn Yonge, a harsh master said to have angered his many slaves. The legend tells of the one slave who, seeking revenge for some undeserved punishment, hid one night in the niche located above the 13th step of the home's spiral staircase. It is said that the angry slave stabbed Yonge to death as he reached the 13th step, where a dark red stain believed to be the master's blood remained until its rotted wood was repaired many years later. Visitors touring the homestead are still warned to avoid stepping on this haunted spot. The City of Opelika now owns this house and plantation estate surrounding it.