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“To the Manor Born”–Shirley Baird’s Historic Home

Watercolor artist Shirley Baird’s home is private and not offered for public tours, but Cookie Knott arranged a private viewing for The Kelly’s Selma daytrippers. The house is in historic Selma just a few blocks from downtown and the famous bridge, an imposing structure set behind an iron gate.

Shirley’s ancestor (great-great-great? grandfather), a bank president at the time built this mansion in 1856. Composed of three parlors, dining room kitchen, closed-in porch, sunroom, and at least five bedrooms, it is not only huge, but totally fill with the family’s vintage and antique furniture, crystal, silver, and painting, both vintage and Shirley’s. She and her dog and cat roam have plenty of room to roam freely. We started the tour, marveling over the two formal parlors.

Every item clearly has a history of the life of her family. It is a living museum. We then proceeded to the dining room, and an added modern kitchen (since the original was built apart from the house) and sunny enclosed porch. Farther back was a huge garden room, but it was claimed by the dog, so we didn’t want to disturb him.

Proceeding upstairs, we found bedroom after bedroom, all with exquisite antique linens and accoutrements, along with Shirley’s art studio and her private elevator. Frankly, some of us were tempted to pick a bedroom and move in, at least for the night!

During the Civil War, when the Union Army occupied Selma, they chose this house for their headquarters. What’s amazing is not that they chose this big beautiful mansion, but that they simply moved the family upstairs. There’s even more to this story. The bank president had warning the Yankees were coming, so he’d hidden the gold from the bank in between the walls. They looked and looked for it and never found it, never guessing that they were walking by it every day! Thanks, Shirley, for this very special tour!

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