Forks of Cypress

In ruins
Also known as: Jackson, James, House
Jackson Rd., roughly 1.5 mi. NW of jct of Cox Creek Pkwy and Jackson Rd., Florence, Alabama

Was a plantation and Greek Revival plantation house near Florence in Lauderdale County, Alabama.

Photos 

Forks of Cypress

1. Historic American Buildings Survey W. N. Manning, Photographer, March 17, 1934. FRONT VIEW - SOUTH ELEVATION

Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey

View photos at Library of Congress

Map 

Description 

Forks of Cypress was a plantation and Greek Revival plantation house near Florence in Lauderdale County, Alabama. It was designed by architect William Nichols for James Jackson and his wife, Sally Moore Jackson. Construction was completed in 1830. It was the only Greek Revival house in Alabama to feature a two-story colonnade around the entire house, composed of twenty-four Ionic columns. The name was derived from the fact that Big Cypress Creek and Little Cypress Creek border the plantation and converge near the site of the main house.

James Jackson was born October 25, 1782 in Ballybay, County Monaghan, Ireland. Jackson moved to Alabama from Nashville, Tennessee in 1818. From 1822 onward he was active in state politics and served in both houses of the Alabama Legislature. In 1830, Jackson was named president of the Alabama Senate.

In the 1820s and 30s, James Jackson, an avid horseman, imported a dozen or more English thoroughbreds for breeding his own horses and in an effort to improve the overall bloodstock of the American thoroughbred. He was eminently successful in the effort particularly with three of his imports, Leviathan in 1830, and Gallapade in 1835 and Glencoe in 1836. American turf historian John Hervey rates James Jackson as "the most successful importer in the history of the American thoroughbred". James Jackson died on August 17, 1840 and was buried in the family cemetery, near the plantation house. His widow was the executor of his will and, on October 9, 1840, made bond in the amount of $400,000. The will of James Jackson, recorded September 15, 1840 at the Lauderdale County Court House, directed his nephew Thomas Kirkman to manage a trust which would control and gradually sell off the racehorses, a duty Kirkman completed in 1848, with the sale of Glencoe.

During the American Civil War invading Union forces used the lands of the Forks as a base camp. At this time the farm was owned by James' widow, Sarah Jackson. Additionally, some of writer Alex Haley's ancestor's were slaves on this plantation, which provides a setting for much of his book, Queen: The Story of an American Family. The house burned down after being struck by lightning on June 6, 1966. The columns from the main house and the Jackson family cemetery remain, however. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 10, 1997.

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 10, 1997
Reference number
97001166
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Early Classical Revival
Area of significance
Social History
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event
Property type
Site
Historic function
Single dwelling
Period of significance
1825-1849
Significant years
ca. 1825; 1830

Update Log 

  • May 25, 2011: Updated by WillyT: Added Description
  • March 19, 2011: New photos from Ben Tate

Sources