Historic Structures

Summers Plantation, Opelika Alabama

Date added: March 13, 2021 Categories: Alabama House Plantations & Farms

The land on which the house is located was deeded to a Creek Indian named Sphiyike by the United States Government around 1832. Sphiyike sold it to Nat Macon Thornton on April 3, 1834, who in turn sold it to William Long on April 16, 1837. Shortly after purchasing the property, Long constructed the core section of the house. Before the Civil War he lost his wife and some children, who are buried near the house. On September 28, 1869, he sold the property to John Summers (1844-1896) and his wife, Rebecca Lenora McClendon of West Point, Georgia. Summers added three bedrooms, a large central hall, and a kitchen connected to the breezeway.

John and Rebecca Summers and their eight children had a prosperous plantation which included cotton, wheat, corn, cattle, a blacksmith shop, and a store. After Rebecca Summers died on January 11, 1926, the house was occupied by her daughter, Berta Summers. In the spring of 1954, she sold the house to Arthur W. Cooper and his wife Dorothy Summers Cooper, granddaughter of John and Rebecca Summers. The house was used for storage until 1988 when the Coopers started restoring the building.

Situated on a knoll facing west and resting on stone, brick, and concrete piers, the Summers Plantation house is a one-story, frame (hand-hewn or pit-sawed) dwelling with an irregular plan and roofline (sheet metal over wood shingles). Three brick and fieldstone chimneys project from the roof. Most of the wood-lapped siding is original.

The front (east) facade displays a Greek Revival entranceway with double doors, sidelights (three lights on each side) and a transom (five lights). Wainscotting follows the front facade. The front gable has return cornices. Beneath the gable is a bay with a pyramidal roof and one rectangular window (6/6 sash). A shed roof porch wraps around the east and south facades and is joined at the southeast corner by a gazebo. The porch columns and the balustrade are not original.

Fenestration on the south (side) facade includes seven rectangular windows (the three original windows have 6/6 sash; the four newer ones in the wing have 1/1 sash). A brick and fieldstone chimney is located between two of the windows (which have retained their original shutters). Fenestration on the north (side) facade includes four rectangular windows (6/6 sash) and one small window located toward the rear. A small brick chimney projects from the roof on the north side.

The west (rear) facade displays a three-part composition (one section with a hip roof; another crowned by a gable roof with return cornice; and a central section with pedimented gable roof). The recessed Greek Revival entranceway has double doors (which are later than the front doors) and is flanked by sidelights (three lights on each side) and crowned by a transom (five lights). Another entrance (single door) is crowned by a 6/6 sash window. The rear porch is covered with a sheet metal shed roof. Fenestration on the rear facade also includes seven other rectangular windows (two not original). A brick and fieldstone chimney is located between two of the windows (which have 1/1 sash).

The basic interior layout includes a central hall with a remodeled kitchen wing located to the south. Wainscotting and wood paneling is displayed in the central hall and front parlor. The four wood mantels in the house are intact. The elegant Federal-style fireplaces in the parlor and study have fluted pilasters. Most of the floors are tongue and groove pine that is 1-1/4 inches thick and 6 inches wide. The central hall and dining room have 1 inch thick X 4 inch wide dressed tongue and groove pine added to the basic flooring of the house. The original plaster in the central hall and the three south bedrooms is intact. The bathroom has a footed bathtub.

Other surviving structures on the property include a large frame barn (early 20th century) with a fieldstone foundation, an old frame buggy house (late 19th century) two frame, L-shaped labor cottages (both late 19th century) and a small family cemetery.