TUSCUMBIA – The Alabama Historical Commission recently added a Tuscumbia property to the official Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage. Shady Dell, the home of Dr. A.W. Davis, the first African American physician and surgeon in Tuscumbia, was among eleven sites which were included in the prestigious list.
The announcement is being made locally by the Tuscumbia Historic Preservation Commission which worked with homeowner Carolyn Stewart to submit the application. Once the nomination was submitted by Stewart, a review by an AHC staff committee determined its eligibility based on criteria to recognize buildings of state-wide historical and architectural significance.
“The Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage is an important resource for recognizing and preserving the stories of important places in Alabama,” said Lisa D. Jones, Executive Director of the AHC and State Historic Preservation Officer. “This is central to our mission to protect, preserve and interpret Alabama’s historic places.”
The home is part of the Tuscumbia National Register Historic District. It is located at 606 East Eighth Street. It was built in 1920 for Dr. and Mrs. A.W. Davis. The doctor came to Tuscumbia in 1903 to serve the African American populations of Tuscumbia and Sheffield, playing an important role in the Tuscumbia community until his death in 1941. In addition to his medical practice, Dr. Davis owned a drug store with business partner Mr. G. W. Minor and was active in many civic and business organizations, including the Auxiliary School Board in Tuscumbia and the Negro Business League.
The architecture of Shady Dell is described as Dutch Colonial Revival with Craftsman influences. The two-story home has the characteristic gambrel roof with hipped dormers. The original clapboard siding was covered with asbestos siding sometime in the mid-20th century. The three-bay front façade has a hipped stucco porch and classical columns grouped in threes. The double-hung windows and front door with five side lights are original. Doors on either side of the house lead to a porch and to a fish pond, part of the original landscape. The interior of the home contains typical examples of Craftsman-style woodwork. A stone monument across the street from Shady Dell marks the site of Dr. Davis’ office, which is no longer standing.
After Dr. Davis and his wife died, their daughter, Sadie Mae Davis, inherited the home. Although Sadie and her husband lived in Savannah, GA, they visited the home often during summers and holidays. After their deaths, the home passed to their daughter, Edythe Jason, who eventually sold it to Glen Stewart and his wife Barbara, a former teacher at Trenholm High School. Mr. and Mrs. Stewart’s three children, Carolyn, Wayne and Danita, now own the property and are presently renovating the home.