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Faded Glory: The Butler residence, Greensburg Street
Related earlier story: JIM: Ms. Lunn critiques the courtroom (and the inhabitants therein), 1906
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A native Columbian recently noted, after viewing a photo on ColumbiaMagazine, that "several old buildings had been torn away...exposing the back of the old brick home which faces on Greensburg St..."
The "old brick home" to which my friend referred is the residence erected one hundred twenty years ago by J.W. Butler. He passed in 1905 and in one of the several ensuing lawsuits and appeals regarding his estate, testimony revealed construction of the house began in 1896 with completion the following year. It also came out that Judge Butler (he being accorded that honorific following his election as County Judge in November 1897) had intended to build on his farm outside Columbia, "but his wife and adopted daughter insisted that he build on the lot in town." Part of the testimony given quoted Mr. Butler as having (in essence) told his wife, "I am building this house for you." Said the News of the Butlers, "the couple were sweethearts from the time of their marriage" until parted by death.
Also according to the court records, Mrs. Butler, using monies gifted to her by her father, provided the sum of $1,500 toward the construction "of a two-story brick house and improvements on [the] lot..."
(Bettie Butler was the daughter of longtime Columbia businessman William H. Walker. She was also a sister of well known Columbia merchant W.L. Walker and the sister of Lorena Paull. Mrs. Butler's contribution toward the house was the equivalent of $40,000 today.)
Mr. and Mrs. Butler and their adopted daughter Grace (Mrs. Butler's niece) moved into the house shortly after its completion in 1897. Some five years later, the August 20, 1902 News reported that "Judge Butler has leveled to the face of the earth the old brick business house just opposite the Marcum Hotel...Mr. Butler will not rebuild on the corner, but leave the space open for the benefit of his commodious residence."
(Several years later, the Marcum Hotel became known as the Miller Hotel and later still, the New Adair. The corner lot of the Square and Greensburg Street where the "old brick business house" had stood is now likely best remembered as the site of Young's drugstore.)
Grace lived there with her adoptive parents until her marriage to William E. Bradshaw in November 1898. After that, the young couple took abode there for a few years. Judge Butler resided in the home until his passing, a few months before his and Mrs. Butler's fortieth wedding anniversary. Mrs. Butler remained there full-time until the late nineteen-teens, when she began dividing her time between Columbia and Louisville, Grace and her family having removed to the latter city a few years earlier. Mrs. Butler died in the fall of 1924, two days after her 81st birthday.
In speaking of the Butler house, my friend remarked, "Its 'twin' on High Street" - the house of similar construction long occupied by Mrs. Butler's sister and brother-in-law, Lorena and R.F. Paull -- "has been so beautifully restored."
Perhaps the once-grand and still stately home on Greensburg St., filled with the love, laughter, and light of family those many years ago, will also be brought back to its full splendor, rather than ignobly falling to time.
This story was posted on 2016-09-06 09:46:15
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