Turner honored during Lyon Hall opening

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 16, 2004

DEMOPOLIS-The Marengo County Historical Society along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation held a gala event on Sunday honoring Alabama’s Grande Dame of Historic Preservation, Gwyn Turner and the official opening of the historic Lyon Hall.

This occasion marked the gala opening of Lyon Hall, which is a Greek revival style mansion built for George Gaines Lyon and Anne Glover Lyon by their slaves between the years of 1850 and 1853. The Marengo County Historical Society is preserving the house, with its grand scale interior spaces and period contents, much of it untouched since the 1890’s.

George Gaines Lyon was a young attorney who came to Demopolis to practice law with his uncle, Francis Strother Lyon of Bluff Hall. Upon completion of the home, Mr. And Mrs. Lyon traveled to New York to purchase furniture for their residence. Many pieces of this original empire furniture can still be seen throughout the home today.

During the 145 years following its construction, Lyon family descendants occupied Lyon Hall. George G. Lamar, great-grandson of Anne Glover Lyon, was the most recent family descendant to occupy the home. Several years prior to George Lamar’s death, Albert Tibbs and Gene Tibbs Braun deeded their 1/3 interest in Lyon Hall to the Marengo County Historical Society.

At the time of his death, Lamar bequeathed the remaining 2/3 interests in the home to his first cousin, Helen Herbert Nation and named her executor of his estate. According to Lamar’s wishes, his estate was to be used for the restoration of Lyon Hall, under the guidance of Helen Nation.

In May of 1997 Helen Nation donated her 2/3 interest in Lyon Hall to the Marengo County Historical Society, giving them full ownership of the property. Communicating closely with Helen Nation, Brian Brooker, MCGS operations manager, and several volunteers worked behind the scenes to sort through every article found in the home.

Numerous photographs and negatives found in the house, as well as the incredible memory of Helen Nation, were instrumental in documenting many original aspects of the property such as the picket fence, the well house, the original east porch, the original furnishings, photographs, etc. Unfortunately, Mrs. Nation passed away in 1999, but restoration work continued with the support of Elizabeth Herbert and Julie Herbert, niece and nephew of Mrs. Nation.

Fortunately the MCHS has been able to utilize the assistance of individuals from the State Cattle Ranch in Greensboro. Without these individuals, the grounds of Lyon Hall would not have reached the state of restoration seen today. The restoration of Lyon Hall has been, and must continue to be, a community effort. MCHS plans to open Lyon Hall to the public as a house museum and reception hall.