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John W. Inzer Museum

Joshua Shiver, Auburn University
The John W. Inzer Museum in Ashville, St. Clair County, is a house museum that commemorates the life and career of Col. John W. Inzer. He served as a Confederate officer, Alabama state senator, and Alabama district judge. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
John W. Inzer Museum
The house was designed in the popular Greek-Revival style of the period and constructed in 1852 for Moses Dean, one of Ashville's first merchants and a county commissioner who helped oversee the construction of the present courthouse in 1844. Campbell Jefferson, a local mason and bricklayer, built the home as well as the courthouse. Dean died before the home was completed, and his widow, Eliza Dean, sold the house and property and moved to Jacksonville, present-day Calhoun County. The home is an L-shaped structure built of red hand-pressed brick fired on the property's grounds and used to construct its 16-inch thick walls. The roof is hipped with six exterior chimneys, and the home's front door consist of a portico with four columns of two Doric and two square pillars and double front doors. Many of the home's original furnishings are still intact and currently on display. All of the original outbuildings, including a kitchen and smoke house, are also still standing. The kitchen is a one-story brick structure with a hipped roof and two chimneys and is divided into two halves, with one half consisting of living quarters for a servant on the east and the other half for food preparation on the west side.
In 1856, Georgia native John Washington Inzer moved to Ashville to practice law and in 1859 was admitted to the state bar and licensed to practice before the Alabama Supreme Court. That same year, he was appointed the Probate Judge of St. Clair County. He had worked in the Talladega, Talladega County, law office of leading secessionist and future senator John Tyler Morgan and was associated with Abram Joseph Walker, a future state Supreme Court justice. As the country became embroiled in the sectional crisis over slavery, Inzer was elected to represent St. Clair County at Alabama's Secession Convention, serving as the youngest member, at the age of 26. After the outbreak of the Civil War, he later enlisted as a private in the Fifty-eighth Alabama Infantry Regiment before earning promotions to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After fighting in numerous battles, Inzer was wounded at the September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga and captured at the subsequent Battle of Missionary Ridge in November. He spent the remainder of the war in a Union prisoner-of-war camp in Ohio.
Inzer then returned to Alabama and settled once again in Ashville. In 1866, he purchased the former Dean home with his wife Sally Elizabeth Pope, and the home thereafter became synonymous with his last name. Inzer was elected to the Alabama State Senate in 1874 and helped write the state's new constitution the following year that overturned portions of the 1868 "Reconstruction" constitution, such as abolishing the state Board of Education, segregating schools, and reducing education funding, while returning political power to Democrats and the planter class. He was appointed as a trustee of Howard College (present-day Samford University). In 1890, he was again elected to the Alabama State Senate and in 1907 was appointed as judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, being re-elected the following year in 1908. Inzer died at the age of 93 on January 2, 1928, being the last surviving member of the Alabama Secession Convention.
The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 (it was known as the Inzer-Dean Home at the time) and stayed in the Inzer family until 1987. Then, it was deeded, along with its extensive law library, to the St. Clair Camp 308 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. The home was incorporated as a nonprofit museum in December 1988 and has served as a house museum since, focusing on Inzer's legacy as a supporter of secession, soldier in the American Civil War, state senator, and judge, as well as the history of the town of Ashville. The John W. Inzer Museum is staffed by volunteers from the local community and is led by a volunteer board of directors.
The home is located at 229 5th Street. It is part of the Alabama Bicentennial Trail and offers educational tours, exhibits, and other special events for school groups, civic organizations, and the general public. The museum is open to the public by appointment only. Nearby in Ashville are the St. Clair County Courthouse, the oldest continuously operating courthouse in the state, and the Ashville Museum and Archives. The John Looney House (ca. 1820), considered a rare example of a "double dog trot" cabin, is a bit to the east of the town.
Published:  September 17, 2019   |   Last updated:  September 17, 2019