The Harper-Fowlkes House is located in Orleans Square and carries a rich history behind it. Originally this house was commissioned by Stephen Gardner to be designed by Charles Cluskey. Cluskey was an Irish architect who worked on the Hermitage Plantation for the McAlpin’s. Unfortunately in 1843, Gardner had run into some financial problems and had to sell the home to his brother John, who went on to sell it to Aaron Champion.
Aaron Champion’s daughter Maria Sophia soon married James W. McAlpin, the owner of Hermitage Plantation. The couple used the house mostly for entertaining guests or throwing big events. When Champion passed in 1881, he left the house to his son-in-law to hold for Maria and their children. Once Maria died in 1890, the house was split in interest amongst their five children, her son Henry McAlpin would end up keeping the home and living here until he died in 1931.
Through the McAlpin’s life, they would renovate in 1895, adding a top floor addition, moving the staircase to create a larger dining room, and adding a Mansard roof. The house was left to Henry’s third wife Mary Auza McAlpin and his daughter Claudia McAlpin Whitney in equal shares. The home would be put up at auction to settle the McAlpin’s estate.
Aldia Harper Fowlkes purchased the home for $9,000 ($176,764.53 Today) from the Citizens and Southern National Bank in 1939 after she had been in love with the home since she was a little girl. She would ride the trolley car just to admire it and had always dreamed of buying the house once she was older.
As a child Aldia suffered from typhoid fever and had to spend many of her younger years in bed. She developed her skills of drawing and painting to keep her imagination alive though being bedridden. She ended up finishing school and returning to become quite the socialite among Savannah families. She opened her own studio “Variety Shop” and continued to succeed in her life.
In 1939, Aldia’s wish came true. She and her mother moved into the now named Harper-Fowlkes house on New Year’s Eve. Along with her love of this house, she had fallen for the Savannah homes that needed a little extra help. She was able to restore ten homes throughout Savannah to keep up the Preservation Movement that has now taken over the city in attempts to save the historic district.
The Home is open for tours but no photos are allowed in the interior of the home. The architecture is the best part of viewing this house and I highly recommend the tour!
HARPER-FOWLKES HOUSE HOURS
Monday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Wednesday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am – 3:00 pm