Take a Tour Back in Time Through Historic Tuscaloosa

The historic homes in Tuscaloosa are beautiful all year round, but there’s something very special about touring them when they’re draped with holiday splendor this time of year.

Five properties in the Druid City are maintained by the local preservation society Historic Tuscaloosa: The Old Tavern, Battle – Friedman House, Jemison- Van de Graaff Mansion, McGuire- Strickland House and Murphy African American Museum.

Built in 1827 by local inn keeper William Dunton, The Old Tavern has been home to a tavern, a stagecoach inn, and a residence. After being moved from its original location in 1966, today it’s located at 500 Nicks Kids Avenue in Tuscaloosa.

The Battle-Friedman House was built in 1835 by plantation owner and railroad investor Alfred Battle. During that time, Tuscaloosa was the state capitol. The house’s grounds include the only remaining documented antebellum greenhouse in the state of Alabama. The house is located at 1010 Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa.

The Jemison- Van de Graaff Mansion is located at 1305 Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa.

The first-of-its-kind in the area mansion was designed and built by Alabama senator Robert Jemison, Jr. between 1859-1862. This home was built with luxuries that were unimaginable to most during this time. It had the first built-in bathtub in the state and was also the first house equipped with an indoor toilet.

Tuscaloosa became an incorporated town in 1819, the same year Alabama became a state. The McGuire-Strickland House was constructed the following year for the county’s first probate judge, Moses McGuire. It still stands as the oldest wooden framed home in Tuscaloosa. It was originally located at the corner of Greensboro Avenue and 15th Street.

Around 1970, the home was moved from that location to Capitol Park where it is used today as part of the Capitol School.

The Murphy-Collins House is the home of the Murphy African American Museum.

​Will J. Murphy was Tuscaloosa’s first licensed black mortician. The two-story bungalow located on Paul W. Bryant Drive was built in the early 1920s as Murphy’s private residence. The home was built with parts and pieces of Tuscaloosa history. The old state capitol building had burned in 1923 just a few blocks away. Bricks and even windowsills were salvaged from the former capitol and used in the house’s construction.

Today, the landmark is a museum that highlights the lifestyles of affluent blacks during the early 1900s.

If you’d like to learn more about these historic homes in Tuscaloosa, there are free tours offered at three of the five locations every Tuesday-Saturday.​

​Visitors will first tour The Old Tavern at 1:30 p.m. on each of those days. That tour is followed by the Battle-Friedman House at 2:30 p.m. and then the Jemison-Van De Graaff Mansion at 3:30 p.m.

The Murphy-Collins House is open for tours by appointment only. Those interested in touring the museum may call (205) 758-2861.

Since the McGuire-Strickland House operates as The Capitol School, it is only open for tours during special occasions.