Built in the 1840s, this Greek Revival has stood through -- and stood out in -- Alabama's history. From the Civil War, through the Depression era, and into the present day, Barton Hall has seen it all from its perch practically overlooking Muscle Shoals.
Excuse our well-worn clich, but we wish these historic walls could talk.
They can't (we're still disappointed by that), but the homeowner can -- and after years of caring lovingly for this historic gem, he had stories to tell.
"The house has a tablature on all four sides. Typically, they wouldn't spend the money on sides that wouldn't face the main road, but they did here," says homeowner Robert J. Osborn Jr.
Inside, the home has a feature we've never seen: a double-reverse spiral staircase. Starting from the widow's loft on the roof, spiraling down, crossing over flying bridges, spiraling again (and again), this isn't your typical staircase. It's a staircase worthy of serious recognition.
"The home was designated a national landmark because of the staircase," says Osborn.
Off the staircase, the first floor has grand rooms with high ceilings, hardwood floors, and original plaster work.
The double parlors feel timeless with working fireplaces, chandeliers, and walnut pocket doors. The pocket doors also hide a piece of history.
"One of the doors has a little square plug in it about the size of a nickel and it lines up with the windows," Osborn says. "I assume it might have picked up a mini ball during the Civil War, and somebody might have plugged it up."
Wandering the halls, you'll find a few modern upgrades, including a glassed-in sunroom and a kitchen (with two dishwashers!). But for the most part, the home is perfectly restored. It's in such great shape, Barton Hall looks like it's always been picture-perfect.
However, that isn't the case. Osborn told us the bedrooms used to hold much more than period-appropriate furnishings. There are five large bedrooms with closets (and bathrooms!) now, but they served a different purpose during lean years.
"During the Depression, a different family lived in each room of the house," Osborn says. "One room was even used for hay storage."
These days the bedrooms are meticulous and feature working fireplaces, hardwood floors, and period details such as floral wallpaper and chandeliers.
That is largely due to the Osborns, but another key figure in the home's history played a large role in the home's restoration.
"I have to really give credit to Dr. Smith. He bought the house in the '40s. It was going to be a surprise for his new bride, and he did an amazing amount of work. He took the chimneys down to the ground and rebuilt them. He hand-stripped the siding. He put up cypress."
In the end, the house looked as good -- or better -- than it ever had, but the surprise didn't last long.
"Dr. Smith's wife spent one night there and hated the place. They never came back," Osborn says.
The home changed hands a few times over the years. Wings were added and then taken down. Finally, the Osborns bought it, and spent years caring for the house, raising kids, and making memories.
"The library is my favorite room in the house. It's a great place to get in a comfortable chair by the fire and read your favorite book," Osborn said.
And now it's ready for a new owner -- hopefully, a buyer who appreciates tranquility (the home is on 81 acres) and history.