H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama

Date added: March 04, 2024 Categories: Alabama House Mansion
Looking northwest (1999)

J. Bruce Hain was the son of Valentine Hain, a German immigrant whose family had emigrated from Bavaria when he was just 14 years old. The Hain family settled in Pike County, Alabama. A member of the next generation, J. Bruce Hain was born in 1873 in Forest Home, Butler County, Alabama. Five years later, Valentine Hain moved his family to the Sardis community in Dallas County. There, in 1882, Valentine Hain purchased 160 acres of land and built a home. Following graduation from Marion Military Institute, Bruce Hain purchased his first land, 600 acres in Sardis in 1899. Over the next four decades, he added 15,000 acres to his holdings.

J. Bruce Hain was a well-known and respected planter and cattleman. He had the house built for his second wife, Ellen Mae Moore. The residence was the center of his large and successful cotton plantation. From the outset, cattle were part of the Hain enterprise; and the railroad met important transportation needs. Hain could load cattle on the L&N Railroad at Sardis and ship them to the New Orleans Stockyard. Growing cotton was a major segment of the Hain operation. In 1903, Bruce and his brother John built a cotton gin and plantation store, which expanded their holdings in the cotton business (the original gin later burned; the store and rebuilt cotton gin are located to the south of the residence). In addition, they owned a mercantile business. Eventually, Bruce Hain bought out his brother's interest in the company that was known as the J.B. Hain Company.

Bruce Hain was instrumental in organizing the Selma Compress, a move intended to bring more cotton buyers to the local cotton market and obtain better prices than were possible as long as one larger buyer forced out the competition. Bruce became president of the organization soon after its founding, and he served in that capacity until his death in 1942.

Selma builders, James C. Rutledge and Thomas Franklin Pearson, constructed the Hain House in 1913 for Mr. and Mrs. J. Bruce Hain. Agnes Chance, a granddaughter of Thomas Franklin Pearson, states that the house was "built on a handshake" and that her grandfather rode his bicycle daily from Selma to Sardis (a distance of 10 miles) to work on the house. She also related that the over sized Corinthian columns were brought on the river and then by wagons to the construction site. No personal or work related history was found documenting the lives of the master builders, James Rutledge and Thomas Franklin Pearson. One city directory from Selma referenced a Thomas Pearson and noted his occupation as a "builder".

Edward Moore Hain and Bruce Valentine Hain (later a prominent attorney and state legislator) were born in the house and lived there along with Mr. Hain's older children by his first marriage to Sally Hardy Hain, Jesse Hardy Hain and Ethel Hain. After his second wife died, Bruce Hain married his third wife, Mary Bennett of Selma in 1929. After his death in 1942, she lived in the house until her death in 1963. After a vacancy of over 20 years, family again lives in the Hain House. Cecil McMath Gayle, Mary Hain's nephew, along with Kenneth Parker purchased the home from the Hain heirs and have restored the Hain House and make it their home.

Building Description

Built in 1913, the Hain House is situated in Sardis in the northwest corner of the intersection of Alabama State Highway 41 and Dallas County Road 30. The residence forms the core of a 13-acre parcel of property. The residence faces due east and the "yard" includes approximately 5 acres. The house and yard are located within a partially enclosed area. A twisted wire fence with cross-shaped finials surrounds the ornamental yard. The historic landscape is characterized by various types of trees that were planted by the first inhabitants of the Hain House. The present owner, Cecil Gayle, related that J.B. Hain's sons planted the two largest camellia trees. Hain's mother-in-law planted the pecan trees. Magnolias, Japanese Maples, and large oak trees adorn the yard as well. Cedar trees are abundant in the yard and according to Mr. Gayle, the J.B. Hain House was originally slated to be named "The Cedars" due to the presence of so many cedar trees. A concrete walkway extends from the main entrance steps to the front gate that faces Highway 41. Boxwood adorns the walkway on both sides.

Present outbuildings located on the property include a circa 1913 below-ground brick greenhouse, a circa 1940s 3-car garage with loft (now with two bays and a workshop), a modern garage, a circa 1900 plantation office, and a circa 1960s well house. The well house is a 1960s replacement for the original well house. The plantation office, which was originally located across County Road 30 near the cotton gin, has been relocated to the Hain House property. According to Mr. Gayle, during the 1940s, the plantation office was originally used as the night watchman's house. It sat in the gin yard facing County Road 30 on the bank above the road. en the road was paved in the 1950s, the plantation office was moved to the opposite side of the gin. Original outbuildings that are no longer present on the property included a "Delco" house, which housed the Delco electric lighting system for the residence, a smokehouse, and a Carriage house/garage.

Built in 1913 by Selma builders James C. Rutledge and Thomas Franklin Pearson, the J. Bruce Hain House is a two-story wood-frame Neo-Classical Revival residence. The house features a hipped roof of standing seam metal. The roof rests above a wide bracketed cornice with dentils under the eaves. Brick foundation walls are faced with thin concrete blocks molded to resemble stone. The east elevation of the residence consists of three bays and features a central double-leaf wood and glass door. Original beveled glass sidelights surround the door while a beveled glass transom crowns it. Flanking the door on both sides are three 1/1 double-hung sash windows. Thirty-eight pairs of cypress shutters with historic hardware adorn the windows. Projecting from the east facade is a two-story pe width portico. The portico features four over sized fluted columns with four-foot-tall Corinthian capitals. The balcony features large turned balusters.

A floor of red clay tile extends as a terrace around the left corner of the east facade and continues through a one-story side entrance porch on the south elevation. The south elevation consists of 5 bays and features a central double-leaf wood and beveled glass door with beveled glass door with beveled glass sidelights and transom. The one-story entrance porch features a low-pitched hip roof and fluted colonnettes with Corinthian capitals. Flanking the door on both sites are two 1/4 double-hung sash windows with brick chimneys in between the windows. The chimneys extend approximately twelve feet above the roofline and have decorative panels above the roofline and iron support rods extending back into the roof structure.

The west elevation of the Hain House is characterized by a two-story service wing and sleeping porch. In 1939, an originally open porch in the service wing was enclosed with large casement windows. The upstairs sleeping porch features 4/4 double-hung sash windows installed in the 1930s. The exterior brick chimney extends approximately six to ten feet above the roofline and features an open tunnel-shaped chimney cap. A nearly flat-roofed porte-cochere connects the service wing to a one-story brick garage with a hip roof and cupola.

The north elevation (excluding the service wing) features a symmetrical, 6-bay facade. All of the windows are 1/1 double hung sash windows except for one rectangular shaped window that is made of leaded glass in the "Tree of Lite" pattern. One exterior brick chimney adorns the north facade and extends twelve feet from the roofline with decorative panels and an iron support rod extends back into the roof structure. There is one interior brick chimney that extends approximately six to ten feet from the roofline and resembles the exterior chimneys on the south facade in design and decoration.

The interior plan of the Hain House features a central hall bisected by a side hall. The center hall measures 12 feet wide by 54 feet long. En antis columnettes in the central hall divide the formal space from the more intimate space. All main rooms measure 18 feet wide and 21 feet deep and feature 9-inch baseboards. Walls throughout the house are of sand plaster. Floors are heart pine as is most of the wood used in construction of the house. Except for large pocket doors leading into the parlor from the hall and between the parlor and dining room, all other doors are single-leaf and feature original brass hardware and transoms.

A central hall bisected by a side hall leading to the south entrance characterizes the first floor. The main stair is located on the south side of the center hail and is an open stair with newel posts and turned balusters. The parlor is situated on the northeast portion of the house and is entered through wide pocket doors. The Neo-Classically styled mantel in the parlor measures 5 feet high and is supported by Ionic columns and features a dentilated cornice and a heavy mantle shelf. Above the mantel are 2 large framed glass mirrors that reaches to the ceiling. The ceiling in the parlor is box-beamed. To the west of the parlor is the dining room, entered into by wide pocket doors from the parlor. The dining room is similar in construction to the parlor featuring a like mantel and large mirror reaching to the ceiling. A plate rail adorns the room and below the plate rail, vertical wood panels cover the wall. An original leaded glass window adorns the north wall of the dining room. The door from the dining room leading into the hall is a 5 panel wood door with a transom. A swinging door on the northwest portion of the dining room leads into the intimate breakfast/supper room. The room features a built in china cabinet and a Victorian marble mantel with an enclosed firebox. A wood door with a transom leads into the central hall. A swinging door leads into the butler's pantry, which is used for wine storage and a bar area. The butler's pantry leads into the kitchen. The service wing is to the southwest of the kitchen. The kitchen, butler's pantry and main pantry occupy an 18 x 21-foot block.

The kitchen features a plate rail and vertical wood board paneling below the rail. The floor is of heart pine. In the kitchen, one single-leaf wood door leads into the main pantry, which serves as storage for china and silverware. The kitchen exits into the service wing. The walls in the service wing area of vertical beaded board siding. A 5-panel wood door exits out to the porte-cochere. A service stair leads up to the second-floor sun porch and to the sleeping porch.

Also on the first floor, the library is located on the southeast portion of the house and is entered through a wood panel door with a transom. The library features an unadorned wooden mantel with smooth Ionic columns. The surround features colored tiles. The firebox is enclosed. A large mirror extends from the mantle shelf to just below the ceiling. The stair hall and side hall are located to the west of the library. Beyond the side hall is a bedroom.

The second floor is a replicated plan of the first floor except for the fact that individual bedrooms and bathrooms characterize the second floor. Second-floor rooms have wood doors with 4 vertical panels and transoms while first-floor rooms have wood doors with 5 horizontal panels and transoms. All rooms retain original doors and hardware. The sleeping porch and sun porch are on the western portion of the second floor. The sleeping porch is an unadorned family room featuring large bands of windows.

According to Mr. Cecil Gayle (1999), the house was vacant for several years before he purchased it. Though the house sat vacant for over 20 years, several original elements were somehow preserved. Due to Mr. Gayle's hard work, the J. Bruce Hain House has been restored to its original beauty.

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Hain House, looking west (1999)
Hain House, looking west (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Hain House and ornamental yard, looking west (1999)
Hain House and ornamental yard, looking west (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Concrete walkway and foliage, looking east (1999)
Concrete walkway and foliage, looking east (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Corinthian columns, looking southeast (1999)
Corinthian columns, looking southeast (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Ornamental yard, looking southeast (1999)
Ornamental yard, looking southeast (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Foliage in yard, looking east (1999)
Foliage in yard, looking east (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Yard, looking south (1999)
Yard, looking south (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Foliage, looking west (1999)
Foliage, looking west (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Fence line, looking north (1999)
Fence line, looking north (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Front gate looking toward house, looking west (1999)
Front gate looking toward house, looking west (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama North elevation, looking north (1999)
North elevation, looking north (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama North/west elevation, service wing, porte cochere, garage, looking southeast (1999)
North/west elevation, service wing, porte cochere, garage, looking southeast (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama 1960s well house, looking south (1999)
1960s well house, looking south (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama West/south elevations, looking northeast (1999)
West/south elevations, looking northeast (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Garage, porte cochere, looking north (1999)
Garage, porte cochere, looking north (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Garage loft, looking south (1999)
Garage loft, looking south (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Below ground greenhouse, looking south (1999)
Below ground greenhouse, looking south (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama South elevation; looking north (1999)
South elevation; looking north (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Looking north (1999)
Looking north (1999)

H. Bruce Hain House, Sardis Alabama Looking northwest (1999)
Looking northwest (1999)