Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion
The Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion was constructed by state senator Robert Jemison, Jr. between 1859-1863. This mansion was the senator's city residence and was intended to be a place for hosting important colleagues and upscale parties. The Jemisons spared no expense to create this state-of-the-art city home. The Italianate-style house was designed by Philadelphia architect John Stewart who was in Tuscaloosa supervising the construction of Bryce Hospital. The Jemison home incorporated the latest innovations in design and technology including an elaborate plumbing system that included running water, flush toilets, and a copper bathtub; a large conservatory to be warmed by a central heating plant (which was never installed due to the Yankee blockade) and indoor lighting fueled by coal gas manufactured in a machine located in the basement. Other modern features incorporated in the design were a boiler for producing hot water, a gas stove, an early form of “refrigerator” and a dumb waiter from the basement kitchen to the pantry located above.
Senator Jemison was not the only important historical figure in this family. Colonel Hargrove, the senator's son-in-law was originally a colonel in the Civil War, but went on to be Speaker of the Alabama House and dean of the UA Law School. Hargrove's grandson's also went on to make names for themselves. William Van de Graaff was Alabama's first All-American football player and his brother, Robert Van de Graaff was a brilliant physicist most well known for his invention of the Van de Graaff Generator. Robert Van de Graaff's accomplishments led to his legacy in the science community as the Father of Modern Physics. Learn more about the amazing people who called this mansion home at one of our free-to-the-public tours!
VISIT THE MANSION
The Mansion is available for touring every Tuesday-Saturday at 3:30pm. Group and school tours are also available by calling the Preservation Society at 205-758-2238 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love the look and feel of the Jemison Mansion? You can also rent our space for private parties, meetings and events! Find out more at the link below.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
A History Buff's Dream. Grounds and house are beautifully done and well worth the visit. The historical background is excellent.
Welcomed at the door as if we were family. The docent explained all the rooms and was very amenable to questions. Take the time to look at everything. The second floor has the first copper tub in the state. I can't imagine polishing it! The whole place is wonderful and I can picture a houseful of children and teenagers inhabiting it with their parents. A MUST when you are in Tuscaloosa!
Step back in Time:
Beautifully maintained, historically accurate, wonderfully friendly staff. A Tuscaloosa must-see treasure.
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Want to see more of the Mansion before you visit?
Check out the video below for some beautiful footage and fun facts
about the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion.