Allen Grove Plantation, Old Spring Hill Alabama
Allen Grove was constructed in 1857 for John Gray Allen, a native of North Carolina who migrated to Alabama in 1841. Allen moved to Spring Hill in 1847 and acquired a plantation (approximately 300 acres) and the site for his dwelling from Edwin Glover. According to the 1850 Marengo County census, Allen held real estate valued at $4,500.00. and was the father of seven children. The Allen family resided in a one and a half story log dogtrot dwelling on the plantation while the present house was being constructed. The builder of the house was David Rudisill, a carpenter from Demopolis who is listed in the 1850 census as being from North Carolina; according to receipts in the possession of the present owner, the interior graining work was executed by a Mr. Dixon of Demopolis. The house has remained in the Allen family and today is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Edward Allen, III.
Built in 1857, Allen Grove is a two and a half story frame dwelling located near Old Spring Hill resting just west of Marengo County Road 1. The property includes not only the main house but a number of supporting structures and outbuildings. Also located on the property, fronting the county road, is a picket fence which is original to the property. Allen Grove is a significant example of a Canebrake plantation house and was constructed for Charles Edward Allen by David Rudisill, a builder from Demopolis.
The two and a half story dwelling is of frame construction, rests on low brick piers, and features a hipped roof of asphalt shingles with centrally placed, gable roofed dormer windows located on the north, west and south elevations. The dwelling is basically a square with a one story side ell located on the southwest corner; this ell was constructed in the 1890s and was originally attached to the dwelling with a lattice work breezeway. The breezeway was later enclosed and the wing today contains a modern kitchen, pantry, and utility room. The exterior is covered in simple weatherboarding while the wall surface protected by the porch is flush boarding. The five bay facade is dominated by a full height pedimented portico supported by two square columns with banisters. Matching pilasters are located on the corners of the dwelling and flank the columns on the porch. The windows are all 6/6 double hung sash and are protected by the original shutters. The single leaf entrance is set in a door surround which contains a full transom and sidelights. The second floor entrance has a full transom and the doorway opens onto a small balcony. The rear elevation features a three bay over three bay facade and a two tiered full width porch which was added to the structure in the 1890s; an exterior staircase allows access to the upper tier of the rear porch. A one story porch is located along the rear of the ell.
The interior of Allen Grove is based on a double pile plan with a central hall; the focal point of the hall is the reverse stair with an unusual curved newel post. Throughout the house, all windows and doors feature Greek Revival key or shoulder surrounds and moldings and all of the woodwork retains its original graining. The walls of the house are plastered and are painted white. The mantle in the northeast room contains a flattened arch motif and is of marble. The remainder of the mantles are wood and are of a more simple design. All rooms with the exception of the northeast room or parlor contain closets. The floorplan is repeated on the second floor and where in the hall, an enclosed staircase rises to the attic floor. Also located at the rear of the second floor hallway is a modern bath addition. The third floor is one large room, plastered and lit by the three dormer windows. A small doorway allows access into the gable roof of the portico.
Located on the grounds are the remnants of four structures, a smokehouse, chicken house, a carriage house and a barn. The barn is a simple structure constructed of logs with a front facing gable roof and side shed wings. Similarly, the carriage house is a simple frame gabled roof structure. The remainder of the support structures, the chicken house and smokehouse, have been abandoned and are ruinous. Also located on the property is a garage.