Mount Ida

I’ve lost shoes now to two pictures.

Once, I was admiring this gorgeous magnolia when I realized (too late) that I was standing right next to a fire ant hill.  I ran like the wind (in such a rush that my flip-flops are likely still under that tree) and wound up getting only two or three good bites — the loss of my flip-flops was totally worth it, though:

Magnolia 3

(if there’s anything worth loving at the Atlanta airport, it’s that line of sculptured fire ants on the ceiling in international baggage claim)

The second was when I ran through this farm field last month, which was just sloppy wet from rains.  I got red mud up to mid-calf.  Again, it was worth it, because at the top of this hill outside Talladega:

Mount Ida, Talladega AL

…are the ruins of Mount Ida:

Mount Ida, Talladega AL

It took us forever to spot these columns in the woods.  Not exactly the Ruins of Windsor outside Port Gibson (I really need to find my pics of it, but this will give you an idea), but Mount Ida was begun around 1840.  This is how it used to look:

LOC Mt Ida Pics

(Photos courtesy Historic American Buildings Survey, Alex Bush, Library of Congress Call #HABS ALA,61-SYLA.V,3-)

Fabulous, fabulous.  My Antebellum Mansions of Alabama book discusses “the magnificent veranda, edged by six superbly fluted columns topped by inverted bell-shaped capitals, a motif extremely rare among ante-bellum homes in the state.  Another rare feature of the columns is the foot-rest, a semi-circular iron bar attached to each shaft of the colonnade.  These foot-rests permitted greatly added comfort, allowing those who sat looking out over the vast expanse of farmland to rear back and  prop up their feet in luxurious comfort.  These are the only such foot-props known to exist in the entire realm of Alabama’s ante-bellum mansions.”

Mount Ida, Talladega AL

The book goes on to mention that the columns are of brick and plaster, and how marble was used from one of the quarries in Talladega.  Windows on the balcony could be turned into doors.  There was amethyst glass in the sidelights and transoms.  There were fourteen rooms, with two-inch thick heart pine flooring.

An artist was brought in from New York to do false grain wainscoting, and the furnishings were purchased in NYC also.  The front parlor was called ‘The Blue Room’ and was a replica of ‘The Blue Room’ at the White House.  Built in three sections, the home was completed in 1859.

Mount Ida, Talladega AL

Then, the War came.  Rousseau’s Raiders depleted the smokehouse and pantries, took the slaves (at one time there were over 180 reported on the plantation), and 32 mules and horses.  On another occasion, the wheat crop and two hundred bales of cotton were burned.

Mount Ida, Talladega AL

In the early 1950s the house was known as undergoing a great renovation, as it was purchased in 1949 by a member of the Kent family who was a ‘leading Jersey cattleman’.  Mrs. Kent ‘has tried meticulously to restore the house to its original grandeur.’

Mount Ida, Talladega AL

The house burned in the 1950s.  This, and something of a retaining boundary wall, are all that’s left.

Not far away is the Reynolds family cemetery:

Reynolds Family Cemetery Outside Talladega AL

Reynolds Family Cemetery Outside Talladega AL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *