STATUS: Open as a National Historic Landmark
Edward (possibly Edwin) Kenworthy Carlisle, a well-established cotton planter born near Augusta, Georgia in 1810, decided to build a large country estate in 1858. On May 4th of the same year, Carlisle wrote a letter requesting help designing a house of such a proportion, stating he was “at a loss for a plan”. Over the course of several months, plans for what would be Kenworthy Hall (also known as Carlisle Hall) began to evolve.
After a hard time finding skilled enough workers, Carlisle eventually founded master mason Phillip Bond in November. Bond estimated that the brickwork would be finished by June 1859, and building began. The Carlisle family moved into the house by 1860, which was two years after the original plan. Even despite the fact that the Civil War began the next year, Edward Carlisle continued to have success in business even during the trying times.
Amazingly, one of his cotton trading firms, Carlisle and Humphries, had an increased profit during the Union’s blockade. After the war, his fortune took a turn for the worse when his property’s value decreased to $20,000, and later $9,000 in 1867. Carlisle, his son, Edward Carlisle, Jr., and his son-in-law, Alexander Jones, went into business in Selma, a nearby town. Together, they founded the City National Bank in 1871. However, Carlisle died in 1873, leaving his property to his wife, Lucinda.
The Carlisles had owned two homes: Kenworthy Hall and a home in Selma. This left Lucinda with the option of which home she wanted to live in. She decided to use Kenworthy Hall as a summer getaway, and use the Selma house as her home. In 1899, she gave the home to her single surviving child, Augusta Carlile Jones.
Thirteen years later, in 1912, Lucinda passed away. In 1914, Augusta sold the property, and the Kenworthy Hall changed hands a large number of times afterwards. The hall went downhill from there; it had lost its original porches, and the mansion went completely vacant for much of the 1950s. It also suffered from vandalism; the plasterwork was deformed, the marble mantles were destroyed, and the stained glass was ruined beyond repair.
During the various times it was empty, locals began to believe that the house was haunted. The story goes that during the Civil War, Edward Carlisle’s daughter, Anne Carlisle, was in love with a Confederate soldier. When she caught wind of his death, she leaped from the tower window in order to end her life. Now, several passer-bys have seen her in her tower room on the fourth floor awaiting her lover.
Many people have bought the home with intents of restoring it. A family moved into the home in 1967, but they died shortly afterwards. Their heirs received it, but they sold the property to a new family in 2001. Now, Kenworthy Hall is considered a National Historic Landmark as of August 18th, 2004.
In Popular Culture
- Kenworthy Hall is featured in Kathryn Tucker Windham’s 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey in the short story “The Faithful Vigil at Carlisle Hall.”
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