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Dale Lodge No. 25Dale Lodge, founded in Dale Town, later Prairie Bluff, in 1827, was originally named Lafayette Lodge to commemorate the General's famed United States tour in 1825-26.  According to tradition, the Frenchman's boat was running behind schedule and a stop in Wilcox County had to be omitted.  As months passed, some of the Masons recalled the incident and proposed the idea of renaming the fraternal order for the famous Indian fighter, Sam Dale. The Masons eventually moved their organization to Camden and built the impressive Greek Revival temple-style structure in 1848.  George Lynch and William T. Mathews, local builders, are credited with the design and construction. The ground floor of Dale Lodge has been the scene of many historic and cultural events, including concerts, plays and the long remembered Secession Ball in 1861. Black Belt Treasures Cultural Arts CenterThis non-profit retail gallery serves as the centerpiece of an arts economy revitalization involving artist development and arts education - encouraging residents and visitors to experience arts, culture and place. The shop was developed in 2005 to showcase and promote the arts of and provide arts education opportunities to the Black Belt region. Since its opening, Black Belt Treasures has grown from representing 75 artists to well over 400. Black Belt Treasures features the works of a cross section of talented painters, sculptors, potters, basket-weavers, quilters, and woodworkers from the area. Additionally, they offer a variety of art classes to all ages. Guests from all fifty states of the United States and over 23 foreign countries have visited the gallery since its opening. Old Shoe Shop MuseumThe Old Shoe Shop Museum, owned and directed by Betty Anderson, pays homage to Anderson's parents, Joe Anderson and Marie Coleman Anderson, as well as her grandparents, who were residents of both Camden and Gee's Bend.  The museum is an eclectic display of various items. The collection is made up of her father's shoe repair equipment, dating back to the late 1800s, as well as furniture, artwork,  documents, period clothing and even 1920s quilts handmade in Gees Bend by her grandmother, Minder Coleman.  Visitors are amazed by Ms. Anderson's stories, and soon realize: "A stop at the Shoe Shop is a step back in time." Jones-Mclntosh-Hicks HouseOn April 2, 1869,  Richard Channing Jones, a twenty nine year old Virginia native, purchased two-and-a-half acres on the Canton Road (Broad Street) as a site to build his Greek Revival cottage. The son of John Cargill Jones, a distinguished minister of the Camden Baptist Church, Jones was a graduate of the University of Alabama, a lawyer and a newspaper editor.  Richard Channing Jones is best remembered, however, for his service as Brigadier General in the State Militia (1876-1890) and as President of the University of Alabama (1890-1897).  During General Jones' presidency, football began, the crimson and white colors were adopted and female students enrolled at the University. The house was also the home of Dr. and Mrs. E.L. McIntosh and their son , E.L. McIntosh, Jr.  Lucy Hicks, a Birmingham attorney and current owner, purchased the house in 2008. The Wilcox Female InstituteThe Wilcox Female Institute, constructed in 1849, and incorporated the following year, remains a symbol of culture and learning. The classical brick building, with its twin Doric columns and square pilastered belfry, was described in the 1851 catalogue as "serving Camden and the surrounding area as a female academy of the first rank." Offering elementary and advanced studies in languages, mathematics, history, art and music, this school was led by able administrators and faculty including Rev. John Miller, father of Governor B.M. Miller, and Professor John Charles Andrews, an English composer, who frequently led students in concerts throughout the region. The school persevered after the Civil War, and was eventually deeded to the State in 1908. It remained an integral part of public education for over sixty years. Eventually a threat of demolition led to the formation of the Wilcox Historical Society to whom the building was deeded in 1974. The Institute now serves as Societyyyyyy headquarters and is an important cultural and events center. Bethea-Strother-Stewart House (Pleasant Ridge)One of the most distinctive antebellum structures in Wilcox County is the residence built in Canton Bend c. 1844 for Tristram Benjamin Bethea. For construction, Bethea, a native South Carolinian and a prominent Alabama lawyer and politician, chose to build a modified Federal house of handmade brick. Unique to the area, the home, dubbed "Pleasant Ridge" by Bethea, was also the longtime family seat of the Strothers, who were relatives of Mrs. Bethea. The "brick house," as it is commonly called, remains a well known landmark for locals and tourists alike.  Noteworthy to the structure are wide arched fanlights, a cantilevered balcony and the central hall plan with single room depth.  The Bethea-Strother House was meticulously restored in the late 1980s by two experienced preservationists from New Orleans.  Jimmy and Ginger Stewart, the current owners, have maintained much of their sensitivity. The Capell House at Pebble HillThe house built about 1850 for the wealthy young planter, Harvey Simpson Capell and his Mobile bride, Malvenia Eslava, a descendant of the colorful Spanish official, Don Miguel Eslava, is unique not only to Wilcox County, but to Alabama. The residence is exceptional for its unusual "umbrella"-type hipped roof and deep front and side galleries, reminiscent of 19th century houses found in the Caribbean. Great attribution for this design is given to William T. Mathews, a local planter who lived in Haiti before removing to Wilcox County. Of particular note are the full length casement windows, another element frequently incorporated in Island architecture. Jackie and Sven Sharp, the current owners, are continuing the restoration begun by the Huff family in the 1970s. The Capell House, a home which encountered Yankee invaders, as well as service as Pebble Hill's post office, is currently slated for use as a bed and breakfast and events venue. Old St. Mary's Church - Hamilton HouseThe Episcopal Church came to Wilcox County with the arrival of Tidewater Virginians and the Piedmont and Lowcountry settlers from the Carolinas. In 1855, Camden residents, including the Becks, Boykins, Dortchs, Savages and others held their first services and executed plans for a parish under the name St. Mary's.  The Carpenter Gothic building, constructed the following year by Alexander Bragg, a local builder, was dedicated March 5, 1857.  Sadly, St. Mary's,  like the prominent parishioner, Mrs. Catherine Parrish Ellis, niece of Vice President William Rufus King, was burdened by the lasting hardships of the Civil War and Reconstruction.  With an ever dwindling roll and the death of church's most devoted and viable member, Mrs. Charlotte Vass Tait Beck in 1938, the diocese planned deconsecration. The board and batten church building was soon sold to Mrs. Frank Moore, who converted the structure to a residence. In 2016 Amy and Palmer Hamilton of Mobile purchased the home from a subsequent owner. The Hamiltons have made a substantial and interpretive restoration Sterrett-McWilliams HouseInspired by various pattern books, this outstanding example of antebellum eclecticism was built in 1851 for David W. Sterrett, lawyer, judge, planter and trustee of the Wilcox Female Institute, and his wife, Susan McConnico of Allenton. The veranda features four tall trellis-like supports, scroll cut balustrades and an unusual parapet. Inside, a central foyer contains twin spiral cantilevered stairways, red glass sidelights and transom, and double parlors with heavy decorative plasterwork.  In 1870, Sterrett's daughter, Sallie Brooks Sterrett Tate, sold the house to Richard Ervin McWilliams and his wife, Amelia Lindsey Coate. Mr. McWilliams, a Confederate soldier in the Wilcox True Blues, was responsible for the return of the company's flag to Alabama after its capture in the early days of the Civil War. The house had been in the possession McWilliams descendants for seven generations and is currently owned by McWilliams' great granddaughters, Lindsay Cook and Garland Smith, and Garlands's husband, Lathrop Smith.                                                                                            Photo by Mickey Matthews Bell-Moore House  (River Bend)River traffic was flourishing when Joseph Bell, a Georgia born planter, and his wife, Martha Jones, sister of Richard Channing Jones, built their home in the late 1840s. The house, occupied by the Bells until his death in 1879, was an impressive manor for his large cotton plantation. Subsequently, the place was bought by the Moore family, prominent owners of Bridgeport Landing, Camden's most influential river port. Two historic events are associated with the house. Following the tragic burning of the steamboat Orline St. John on March 5, 1850, many survivors were given shelter by the Bells. Fifteen years later as Yankee soldiers approached Camden, county officials removed records from the Courthouse and placed them in coffins, which were then buried behind the house for safekeeping. "River Bend," now owned by Christopher Bailey and Ryan Dunagan, is a palatial interpretation of a country residence, complete with a Carolina-style porch, heavy Greek Revival woodwork and ornamental plaster. An extensive restoration is ongoing. Beck-Miller Law OfficeAt the corner of Water and Planters Streets stands a small Greek Revival structure which housed the offices of some of Camden's most distinguished lawyers. The temple-style building was constructed in the late 1840s for Franklin King Beck, a Yale graduate, attorney,  politician and planter, who eventually became a Confederate officer and was killed in battle in 1864. In the late nineteenth century, Beck's son, James Tait Beck, used the office, but upon his untimely death in 1906, the office was sold to Joseph Neely Miller and his younger brother, Benjamin Meek Miller, Governor of Alabama (1931-1935). Of special interest is the smooth stucco facade on the front and side porches, as well as the built-in bookcase and the room doors which were originally faux painted or grained to give the appearance of mahogany.