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Carl Elliott House Museum

Joshua Shiver, Auburn University
The Carl Elliott House Museum in Jasper, Walker County, is a historic house museum detailing the life and accomplishments of U.S. congressman Carl A. Elliott Sr. (1913-1999), who represented Alabama's Seventh Congressional District from 1949 to 1965. The six-room bungalow served as Elliott's home from the late 1940s until his death.
An eight-term congressman, Elliott came from a humble background. In Congress, he was known for supporting key social welfare programs and efforts, most notably the Fair Deal under Pres. Harry S. Truman, the New Frontier under Pres. John F. Kennedy, and the Great Society under Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson. His most enduring legacies are his support for the Library Services Act of 1956 and the National Defense Education Act of 1958. He lost a race for his ninth term in Congress and a bid for governor in 1966 against Lurleen Wallace, for supporting desegregation, leaving him in debt. He practiced law until 1986 and received the first Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for his work on equal rights and new opportunities for low-income students in 1990, but by then he was living in relative obscurity and poverty.
The home was originally built in 1913 as a four-room wooden clapboard bungalow by local developer T. R. Simmons. Elliott purchased the home in 1945 and extensively renovated it in 1951 to accommodate his growing family of two sons and two daughters. He relocated existing rooms, enclosed the front porch, and moved the entrance to the north side of the building. In 1963, Elliott added a den, additional bathrooms, and a master bedroom and bathroom. In 1974, the home was severely damaged in the April 3rd "Super Outbreak," which was the second-largest tornado outbreak on record and the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded. Elliott lived in the house and continued to practice law in the home until his death in 1999. His daughters then helped Bevill State Community College (BSCC) acquire the property for a house museum.
Under the leadership of Betsy Lavanna at BSCC, the school successfully applied for grants, including one from the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2000, to help stabilize the home and develop exhibits detailing Elliott's life. Notable artifacts include the "Rules Chair," which was given to Elliott by his constituents in 1961, various pieces of furniture owned by Elliottt and his family, and photographs of important figures in American history. Much of the home, including the living room, kitchen, dining room, bedroom, and office, were left in largely the same state as in the 1960s. In 2008, the home was developed into the Carl Elliott House Museum and placed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
The home is located at 1700 Birmingham Avenue and lies close to Jasper's Historic District that was established in 2004, encompasses 400 acres, and mostly consists of commercial and residential buildings from the 1920s through the 1940s. The museum is available for tours by appointment only.
Published:  August 20, 2018   |   Last updated:  August 20, 2018