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The Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion: One of Tuscaloosa’s Finest Historic Homes

If you’re eager to step back in time, to experience life in Tuscaloosa in the 1860’s, schedule a visit to one of Tuscaloosa’s historic treasures, the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion. Built by Alabama State Senator Robert Jemison between 1859 and 1863, this stately home still stands on Greensboro Avenue. Most homes of that era were built in the Greek Revival style, but the Jemison home is an exception: it was built in the Italianate style. Philadelphia architect Samuel Sloan, who was in Tuscaloosa working on the Bryce Hospital complex at the time, designed the home.

Jemison-Van de Graff mansion

The house served as the Jemison family home until 1936. In 1901, Robert Jemison Van de Graaff, the great-grandson of Robert Jemison, was born in the home and lived there until he graduated form the University of Alabama.

For a brief time it was an apartment building until it was purchased by J.P. and Nell Burchfield in 1945. The Burchfields renovated the home, saving it from decline. From 1958 to 1979, the mansion was used as the public library for Tuscaloosa County.

It was purchased by the city of Tuscaloosa in 1991 and deeded to the Jemison Mansion Foundation.

Jemison-Van de Graff home in Tuscaloosa

One of Tuscaloosa’s historic treasures is the Jemison-Van de Graff home.

Jemison Foundation’s renovations

Renovations by the Jemison Foundation

The Jemison Foundation oversaw many renovations to the mansion–a new roof, new porches, and a reconstructed belvedere.

In 1992, the Jemison-Van de Graaff Foundation was formed in order to restore the home to its former splendor. With the advice of professionals in historic preservation, and the help of grants, fundraising, and generous donations, the foundation oversaw major renovations to the mansion. In addition to restoring the interior of the home, the group supervised the building of new porches, the installation of a new roof, and the renovation of the belvedere atop the home.

Historic museum and tours

Today, this home operates as a historical museum. Tours are free to the public, although donations are appreciated, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Visit the website ( to get up-to-date information on scheduling a tour.

Conservatory and greenhouse in Tuscaloosa

The two-story conservatory and greenhouse are part of the exhibit on the tour.

Tours to this historic home provide visitors with an immersive experience of early Southern life in Tuscaloosa. On exhibit are original carpet patterns, art, and a collection of 19th century cooking tools such as potato mashers, apple corers, and coffee grinders. All through the home are original hardwoods, including fourteen varieties of local trees. The home and grounds are beautifully kept.

A beautiful wedding venue

This beautiful historic home is available for rent and is a popular venue for weddings, parties, meetings, luncheons, and more. It provides a lovely backdrop for photographing family and friends, and can be rented by the hour for such occasions.

Jemison banquet hall

A beautiful wedding banquet hall.

Wedding events at the Jemison home

The mansion is a popular spot for wedding receptions.

Treat yourself to a tour of this beautiful home, or call ahead and schedule a group tour. Time spent exploring this historic home, one of the county’s first Italianate-style houses, would be time well spent.

Carrie Fitts Real Estate can help you find a dream property in lovely Tuscaloosa, Alabama! With years of experience in the real estate market, our agents will work tirelessly to find you the perfect property. Contact them today at 205.248.7353 to get started!

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Call us at 205.248.7353 or send us a message. We’ll help you take your first step toward finding “A House That Fitts.”

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