‘Literary Capital of Alabama’: Monroeville as Harper Lee’s Maycomb, Part 2

After my wife and I toured the Monroe County Courthouse (see Part 1) recently, we walked south on Mt. Pleasant Avenue to Oak Street, then east on Oak to Alabama Avenue, then back north to the Old Courthouse.

M-Ville map (3)

An image of South Alabama Avenue from the early 1950s, as displayed at Monroe County Heritage Museums. Top of the photo is north.

An image of South Alabama Avenue from the early 1950s, as displayed at Monroe County Heritage Museums. Top of the photo is north.

An image of South Alabama Avenue from the early 1950s, as displayed at Monroe County Heritage Museums. Right side of the photo is north.

Another image of South Alabama Avenue from the early 1950s, as displayed at Monroe County Heritage Museums. Right side of the photo is north.

One of several run-down-looking buildings in downtown Monroeville, on east side of Mt. Pleasant Ave.

One of several run-down-looking buildings in downtown Monroeville, on east side of Mt. Pleasant Ave.

Another run-down-looking building in downtown Monroeville, on west side of Mt. Pleasant Ave, southwest of Old Courthouse.

Another run-down-looking building in downtown Monroeville, on west side of Mt. Pleasant Ave, southwest of Old Courthouse.

Coxwell House, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, southwest of Old Courthouse.

Coxwell House, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, southwest of Old Courthouse.

View of "Deers Pasture" from Mt. Pleasant Ave. This was an open area Scout and Jem passed through. According to Rabun Williams of the Monroe County Heritage Museums, this has always been a low spot on which there've been no buildings.

View of what the book calls “Deer’s Pasture” on the east side of Mt. Pleasant Ave. The east side of this open area backs up to what would have been the Faulk and Lee lots. According to Rabun Williams of the Monroe County Heritage Museums, this has always been a low spot on which there have been no buildings.

Maxwell/Sawyer/Barnett House, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, southwest of Old Courthouse.

Maxwell/Sawyer/Barnett House, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, a couple blocks southwest of Old Courthouse. Along with the Coxwell house above, this house is one of “two blocks of houses … built by the leading families in town,” according to the “Monroeville in the 1930s Walking Tour” pamphlet published by the Monroe County Museum.

Current Monroeville Elementary school, facing Mt. Pleasant Ave. Note air-conditioners in each classroom.

Current Monroeville Elementary school, facing Mt. Pleasant Ave. Note air-conditioners in each classroom.

Facing east on Oak Street from north of school.

Facing east on Oak Street from north of school. To walk this street from the school to the Lee lot would require passing the Boulware (which I heard pronounced “Bo-ware”) house, where lived Alfred “Son” Boulware, Jr., “who, similarly to the character Arthur Radley, lived life as a reclusive shut-in,” according to the “Walking Tour” pamphlet.

School playground along south side of Oak Street.

School playground along south side of Oak Street.

Fence between school playground and Cannon gas station -- former Boulware house.

Fence between school playground and Cannon gas station, the former location of the Boulware house.

Boo Radley's convenience store. This is where the Boulware house stood. Some sources say Alfred "Sonny" Boulware, Jr., was the inspiration for the character Boo Radley.

This is a view of Cannon gas station from the north. Alabama Avenue, which runs due south from the courthouse square, turns southeast at the left side of this picture. This is the lot where the Boulware house stood. Judging from the old photos at the top of this post, the Boulware house faced north and the lot extended to the south and to the west.

View of Mel's Dairy Dream from the south.

View of Mel’s Dairy Dream from the south. This building replaced the Lee house in the early 1950s.”Go Set a Watchman” tells of Jean Louise getting ice cream at a store located where family’s house had been.

Mel's Dairy Dream stands where the Lee house stood on Alabama Ave. I can vouch for the chocolate shakes.

Mel’s Dairy Dream stands where the Lee house stood on Alabama Ave. My wife orders at the window on the left. She said the peach swirl was good; I can vouch for the taste of the chocolate shakes.

This is the view from Mel's Dairy Dream (the former Lee house lot) southwest toward the elementary school.

This is the view from Mel’s Dairy Dream (the former Lee house lot) southwest toward the elementary school.

View south on Alabama Avenue from an image at the Old Courthouse. Caption says the view is dated 1915 and the car is in front of the Lee house.

View south on Alabama Avenue from an image at the Old Courthouse. I read that the view is from about 1915 and the car is to the left of the Lee house. According to the book Monroeville: The Search for Harper Lee’s Maycomb, the picket fences were gone by 1939 and sidewalks had been installed by then.

View of Alabama Avenue south from in front of Mel's Dairy Dream.

View of Alabama Avenue south from in front of Mel’s Dairy Dream, location of the former Lee house.

View east across Alabama Ave. from Mel's Dairy Dream (Lee house lot). Across the street during the Lee house era were the Dr. G.C. Watson houseAccording to the book Monroeville: The Search for Harper Lee's Maycomb and according to the Walking Tour pamphlet.

View of the Goody’s store east across Alabama Ave. from Mel’s Dairy Dream (Lee house lot). Across the street from the Lee house was the Dr. G.C. Watson house, and Watson’s daughter Gladys Burkett was Harper Lee’s English teacher, according to the museum’s Walking Tour pamphlet. Also across the street lived Maggie Dees, secretary to A.C. Lee, and Velma Dees, who tutored Nelle and Truman, according to the book Monroeville: The Search for Harper Lee’s Maycomb.

View north toward neighboring Faulk house from Lee house.

View from Mel’s Dairy Dream (former Lee house) north toward sign marking the neighboring Faulk house. The rock wall was near the old fish pool described in chapter six of To Kill a Mockingbird, according to the book “Monroeville: The Search for Harper Lee’s Maycomb” by Monroe County Heritage Museums. The post office is the brick building at what looks like the end of the street. Presumably, if one were to walk from the Lee home to the courthouse, the fastest way would be to walk north on this street, Alabama Avenue.

Marker on Alabama Ave. at location of former Faulk house.

Marker on Alabama Ave. at location of former Faulk house, the next house to the north of what was then the Lee house.

Capote marker at Faulk house and one of many audio-tour signs in Monroeville.

Capote marker at Faulk house and one of many audio-tour signs in Monroeville. This view is from the sidewalk, looking southwest.

A view looking west behind the Trustmark bank. To the left here is the north end of "Deer Pasture"

A couple lots north of the Faulk house is now the Trustmark bank, and this view is looking west on the south side of the bank.To the left here is the north end of “Deer’s Pasture,” and the street to the west is Mt. Pleasant Avenue.

View north along Alabama Ave. Note the Old Courthouse to left of bank sign and brick white house to the right. Temperature was as of 2:55 p.m. 25 June.

View north along Alabama Ave while standing east of the Trustmark Bank. Note the Old Courthouse dome to left of bank sign and brick post office to the right. Temperature was as of 2:55 p.m. 25 June.

View north along Alabama Avenue. Brick

This view is north along Alabama Avenue from the southwest corner of Claiborne Street. The Old Courthouse is just out of the photo to the left, and the new courthouse is visible just behind the van. The brick building on the right side is the post office. The mural of three children hiding and watching the street (see previous post) was directly to my left as I took this picture.

Nelle Harper Lees gr

Two or three blocks east of the courthouse square on Pineville Road is a cemetery where we found a Lee family plot. This plot and many others were outlined in stone. When we visited on 25 June 2016, we found many coins at the headstone of Nelle (not pronounced  “Nellie,” according to her New York Times obituary) Harper Lee. The church steeple in the background is that of the First Baptist Church, but Harper Lee reportedly belonged to the First United Methodist Church, which is just out of the photo on the left side.

A.C. Lee, father of Nelle Harper Lee

Also at this plot, the grave of lawyer A.C. Lee, father of Nelle Harper Lee.

Mother of Nelle Harper Lee

Mother of Nelle Harper Lee. She and her son Edwin both died in 1951.

Brother of Nelle Harper Lee. He and mother Frances Finch Lee both died in 1951. In 1952, A.C. Lee moved from his house on Alabama Avenue.

Brother of Nelle Harper Lee. He died just weeks after his mother Frances Finch Lee both died in 1951. In 1952, A.C. Lee moved from his house on Alabama Avenue.

Older sister of Nelle Harper Lee. She was an attorney who reportedly managed business affairs of Nelle

Older sister of Nelle Harper Lee. She was an attorney who reportedly managed Nelle’s business affairs. A fourth Lee sibling, Louise, was born between Alice and Nelle (I think).

Also at cemetery, family names Deas and Tate, which were used as character names in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Also at cemetery, family names Deas and Tate, which were used as character names in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Leaving Monroeville on Routes 21/47. I was surprised to see how densely wooded much of rural Alabama seems.

Leaving Monroeville on Routes 21/47. I was surprised to see how densely wooded much of rural Alabama was.

Rural house along Route 21/47 northwest of Monroeville

Rural house along Route 21/47 northwest of Monroeville

I believe this is kudzu outgrowing and covering other vegetation along the roadside.

I believe this is kudzu outgrowing and covering other vegetation along the roadside.

More kudzu.

More kudzu, under the trees here.

Along Alabama Route 21/47. Red dirt.

Along Alabama Route 21/47. Red dirt. We say several small roads leading off the highway that seemed to be made only of red dirt rather than of rocks or pavement.

Rural building along Routes 21 and/or 47

Rural building along Routes 21 and/or 47

Rural house along Routes 21 and/or 47

Rural house along Routes 21 and/or 47

Rural house along Routes 21 and/or 47

Rural house along Routes 21 and/or 47

Kudzu

Kudzu, climbing trees.

Pine Flat Methodist Church and cemetery along Route 10, west of Butler Springs Road.

Pine Flat Methodist Church and cemetery along Route 10, west of Butler Springs Road. It may be hard to see in this picture, but this building seemed to have a foundation of brick piers, and I could see under the building.

Cotton, across the highway from the church in previous photo.

Cotton plants, I think, across the highway from the church in previous photo.

Kudzu at the edge of the church yard.

Kudzu at the edge of the church yard. I’d heard it was amazingly thick vegetation, and so it amazed me.

 

2 responses to “‘Literary Capital of Alabama’: Monroeville as Harper Lee’s Maycomb, Part 2

  1. Just read your posting and had to write and let you know how interesting it was to me. Maggie and Velma Dees were my great-aunts, and we visited them in Monroeville often when I was a chlld. Up until a year ago, I had no idea Miss Maggie was the Lees’ secretary; we as kids just knew she worked in an office. And Miss Velma told us ghost stories.
    I have a number of items relating to Maggie, my most treasured item being a small new Testament with an inscription to me in 1966; also a recipe of my grandmother’s on the BACK of a letterhead from The Office of J.B. Lee. I will plan to go to Monroeville soon; my grandmother is also buried there.

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