We are renovating the little brown house on 2nd Street between Roots and Dr. Aizenman’s office; the house was formerly located on Main Street, across the street from the Post Office, but was moved several years ago to its current location as Old Town Helena was being revived. (The current address of the house is 771 2nd Street). The house was the family home of Luther and Grace Nunnally for many decades, and was referenced in news stories about the 1933 tornado as “the Nunnally House”, described following the tornado as standing but roofless. The Nunnally family, which was fortunate to include talented carpenters, built the house back themselves following the tornado; so despite any further history, the house as it stands today is the Nunnally House. Thankfully, the Nunnally family has been willing to share their desire to preserve their family history, and they have been so accommodating to us; together we are hoping to go back as far as possible to determine the deep history of the house. Being on the National Registry of Historic Places, it seems important to learn more.
The old fireplace and mantel and the old lumber from the house tell the story: the original homeplace has to be much older than the 1930’s, almost certainly 19th century. No one I’ve talked to so far seems to know who first owned the homeplace or when it was built; did the Nunnally family first build the original home back in the 1880-90’s? If not, who did?
One great resource we have is the Joseph Squires map of Old Town Helena, because even today the legal descriptions of Old Town Helena properties come from that original map from the 1870’s. The Nunnally House was originally across the street from the old post office, on Lots 6-9 of Block 15. It looks like J.A. Bandy had that property then (1878), with a neighbor named Harp to the south and another named Ransom up on the other side.
I have spent many hours in the Records Room at the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana, and also at the Tax Assessor’s office, looking for that magical deed or transaction record that would show J.A. Bandy selling the property to someone after 1873, or showing Luther Nunnally purchasing the property before 1933; so far, I have collected some interesting treasures, but nothing that will help with this mystery. Ken Penhale and Dawn Nunnally Cole have both taken the history back as far as they know; I am hoping someone out there with a love for Helena history might be able to help me with a hint!
If you have any suggestions for me, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (205)529-5863.