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Lewis-Powell House to open for Derby Day visitors

The Lewis-Powell House at 302 Church St. will be featured as the Designer Showcase home during Derby Days on May 4. (CONTRIBUTED)
The Lewis-Powell House at 302 Church St. will be featured as the Designer Showcase home during Derby Days on May 4. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Visitors to Derby Days can tour the Designer Showcase home, the Lewis-Powell House at 302 Church St. The house is listed on the Alabama Register of Historic Places.

Derby Days will pay tribute to the Kentucky Derby and will be held in Madison’s downtown historic district on May 4 from 3 to 9 p.m.

In 1873, Arthur H. Lewis built the house for his bride, Mattie Cartwright, granddaughter of John Cartwright, one of the first settlers in the Madison area. Arthur Lewis’ father was affluent cotton plantation owner, Meriwether Lewis, second cousin of Meriwether Lewis in the Lewis and Clark expedition.

“Arthur’s father owned not only the plantation itself but several riverboats that traveled to Decatur and New Orleans,” Derby Days coordinator Dawn Johnson said. The plantation was located near Triana.

A. H. Lewis operated a general merchandise store at 104 Main St. in Madison. The store burned in 1942 and now is a parking lot. He served as a city councilman from 1898-1901 and steward at Madison Methodist Church for more than 30 years.

Subsequent owners of the home were Fred and Ora Wann. She was postmistress in Madison for 25 years. Ora, not her husband, actually owned the home, a significant achievement for a woman in the early 1900s. “She held a federal position and was a landowner before she had the right to vote,” Johnson said. Descendants of the Wann family still live in Madison.

In fall 2012, Teddy and Rikki Powell purchased the home, which was reaching the point of being condemned. During renovation, the Powells found a hidden well under the side porch that was hand-dug during the Reconstruction Era. Exterior clapboards were cypress planks, re-purposed from decommissioned riverboats belonging to Lewis’ father.

“One plank bears the signature of A.H. Lewis and was found hidden in the walls, along with other artifacts from the turn of the century,” Johnson said.

Designer Showcase Home tickets are $5 and available at Main Street Cafe, Noble Passage, Whistle Stop Sweet Shop and Sady’s Bistro. Advance tickets qualify individuals for the grand prize, Johnson said.

For more information, visit madisonderbydays.com.

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