Forgotten Landmark-Peterson House, Montevallo (AL)

This Eastlake style home was built by Mrs. Lucy Cary. It was bought in about 1908 by the second president of the school that has become the University of Montevallo, Dr. Peterson.  Mrs. Charlotte Peterson, the long-time principal of the elementary school, lived in the house until 1970 when it was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Tony Hall. Many years later, they sold it to the University. [i]

If the old house could talk, it would probably tell the tale that is related in Eloise Meroney’s book, “Montevallo, The First One Hundred Years.” In this southern town in 1916, the citizens were extremely interested in the presidential election and overwhelmingly supported the democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson. Their only news came from the daily Birmingham Age- Herald. Frank Peterson, a young teacher in the local high school and son of Dr. Francis Peterson, had developed interest and skill in wireless telegraphy. In an abandoned chicken house in the yard of the Peterson home, he set up the first wireless station in the area. Frank, and his Boy Scout troop, using their self-fashioned equipment, experimented with receiving and transmitting messages by radio. Thus it was that they enjoyed the distinction of being the first to issue the news that Wilson had won the election.

Many older Montevallo people remember when Charlotte Peterson, daughter-in-law of the original owner, and long-time principal of the elementary school, lived there with her mother-in-law “Granny” Peterson; sister-in-law Mary Peterson, and her two sons, Francis and Winston. The house was filled with activity and the noise of family life; music, conversation, and laughter. Neighborhood children often gathered around as Charlotte told them exciting tales of “Uncle Remus” and “Tom Sawyer.”

The Peterson House is presently owned by UM, and plans are to renovate it when funds are available. Perhaps the old house will someday again be filled with those delightful sounds of music and laughter.

The Peterson House, now owned by the University of Montevallo, stands alone. (Contributed/Catherine Legg)

[i] Montevallo Historical Tour; City of Montevallo;

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