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Making of a Home


After losing three children to a yellow fever epidemic, Nathan Bryan Whitfield purchased the Gaines’ property and brought his family here in February, 1843. The members of the family included their five surviving children, six orphans of their cousins. Whitfield’s wife, Betsey, was expecting their 12th child.

To ease the overcrowding, Whitfield sent the six oldest children to boarding schools and then began building additions to the home. He added the parlor, center hall, and two-thirds of the dining room, and created two upstairs bedrooms over the cabin. Whitfield was his own architect and designer and, at times, builder. It took eighteen years to complete the mansion.

Dates of Additions to the Home

  • Section 1         1821-1843
  • Sections 2     1843-1847
  • Sections 3-4   1847-1855
  • Section 5     1856
  • Section 6     1860
  • Section 7    1861

In 1860, John Sartain, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was commissioned to do a steel engraving of Gaineswood from a photograph taken by Chauncey Barnes of Mobile.

Continue to Whitfield Family

*Photos Courtesy: Alabama Historical Commission Archives

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