Four Sisters Houses 5

Four Sisters Houses

The houses are on Perry Street, diagonally opposite First Baptist. The original owner, Dr W.O.  Baldwin 1818-1886, highly successful banker and respected physician, spent his entire life in Montgomery. Even so, Baldwin opposed the war, not because he didn’t believe in the cause, but because he thought the South would lose. But, despite his reservations, he sent his son, 19-year old Bill Jr, off as a company captain, entrusted to the care of a “body servant” by the name of James Hale. Hale was a former slave, freed by Doctor Baldwin before the war started. Hale returned months later with the body of Bill Jr, who had fallen in the bloody battle of Franklin TN. After the war, Dr Baldwin set up his former slave, James Hale, as a designer and builder, and in 1872 he engaged Hale to build four houses, side by side, on prestigious Perry Street, one for each of his four daughters. The houses, which have now stood together for almost 140 years, exhibit excellent craftsmanship; the two down the hill are somewhat Victorian, and the two upper are said to be Italianate. My friend Bill Wolf lives in House #4.

Dr Baldwin HomeAt left is the home of Dr Baldwin, taken circa 1885, which stood a block on down Perry Street at the corner of Perry and Adams. When I moved to Montgomery, this structure had become the YWCA, and a decade later, around 1960, it was torn down to make way for the chapel addition to the First Presbyterian Church. Waiting in front on the then dirt Perry Street is the horse and buggy that Dr Baldwin used to make house calls –and to make his daily visit to the First National Bank (now Regions) which he had founded.

-Charles Humphries

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