Tour of Homes features Wilcox County treasures
The Tour of Homes, an event held in the spring hosted by the Wilcox County Historical Society, features various homes throughout the area. In recent years, the tour has attracted thousands of guests to Wilcox County to enjoy the historic homes and Southern cuisine.
In 2021, The House on The Hill, the Liddell-Philippi home, was one of the stops on the tour. The current residence of Mary Glen Grant and her husband, Edgar, The House on the Hill was built in 1834. During the tour, Grant said, 1,200 visitors came through the historic home on Clifton Street in Camden.
The first owners of the home were Major Robert Larkin Goode and his wife, Viola Matthews Goode, who resided there during the Civil War. The home was originally a two-on-two style home, with a detached kitchen, a common feature before electricity. Though renovations over the years expanded the home, the original charm of the home remains.
The House on the Hill was sold to the Albion Morgan family, newcomers to Camden from New York state who arrived soon after the Civil War. The Morgans raised their two daughters in the home. Their youngest daughter, Edith Morgan, also known as Polly, remained in the home until her death.
She spent time at the Art Institute of Chicago, developing a particular interest in photography. Upon her return to Camden, Polly organized and instructed classes for young women in the community, teaching different mediums such as watercolor and photography out of the home.
“Young girls would come here for a month or six weeks, and she would teach them to paint,” Grant said. Additionally, she dedicated herself to educating African American children in the area, teaching them to read from the Bible. “She taught art. She taught Bible. She was just a wonderful lady way ahead of her time,” Grant added.
Polly had no children of her own. In her old age, she hired a couple, Glen and Marguerite Liddell, to live in the home with her and take care of her. Upon her death, Polly bequeathed the home to the young couple.
The Liddells established the first power company in Camden, and The House on the Hill was the first home to have electricity. “This was the first house to have electricity, only because my grandfather owned the power company,” Grant explained. Today, the holes drilled in the hardwood floors to route wires around the home can still be seen.
The Liddells then passed the home on to their daughter and her husband, Billy and Janet Philippi. Today, their daughter Mary Glen and Edgar Grant reside in the home, which is jointly owned by Grant and her two sisters.
The home is filled with furniture that the family acquired over the years, along with family artifacts, and even a furniture piece that once belonged to actress Marion Davies. “It’s full of treasures. We found my grandfather’s World War I uniform. Then we found my father’s World War II flight jacket,” Grant said.
Visitors during the tour enjoyed seeing a wall featuring photos of family descendants. “It was a fabulous, fun weekend,” she said.
Today, the House on the Hill is still used as a gathering place for the family. “We have people coming often. I feel humbled that I am the one that is here in this house. It’s a huge responsibility, but it is such a joy. I love opening the house to all my cousins. It’s an honor,” Grant said.
The tour of homes is sponsored annually by the Wilcox Historical Society. The next tour is scheduled for March 25, 2023, and will focus on homes in Pine Apple in eastern Wilcox County. Tickets will be available Dec. 1, 2022. Ten homes and two churches will be on featured.
For more information about the Tour of Homes and the House on the Hill, dial 334.450.0130 and press 520 or visit https://wilcoxhistoricalsociety.org/category/homes-tours/.