By Emily Etheredge
The small details from several past generations fill Julia Wood’s historic home in Thorsby with elegance, beauty and many memories.
Wood’s home is located at 9140 Jones Street in Thorsby and was built in 1895 by T.T. Thorson, the founder of Thorsby.
Wood said the Thorson family came to Thorsby from Iowa as they were hopeful they would grow fruit and nuts in the area.
Thorson built the home and was successful with his fruit crops until pests arrived and destroyed many of them, resulting in the family relocating to North Alabama.
Wood said another family moved into the home shortly after the Thorson family relocated and in 1918, Wood’s grandparents, John Harrison and Martha Elizabeth Collins purchased the home.
Since 1918, the home has stayed within Wood’s family with her grandparents owning the home and both Wood’s aunt Genie Collins Robinson and mother, Hilma (Polly) Collins Smith owning the home before Wood’s moved in with her late husband, Richard Wood in 2000.
“This home has a lot of memories for me,” Wood said. “I grew up visiting this home when my aunt owned it and would often walk from school in the afternoons to visit her.”
Now, the 12-room home with more than 5,500 square feet is ornately decorated with Victorian furniture, some of which Wood inherited from her family and small details throughout each room that weave different generations into Wood’s personal decorating style.
Most notable is one of Wood’s favorite rooms in the home, which she affectionately has deemed her “white room.”
The room is filled with two white twin beds that were Woods’ mother’s, white curtains, a painted white dresser that was White’s great-grandfather’s and white frames outlining outfits worn by Wood when she was a child.
Wood has also added white-framed Christmas cards to hang on the walls of Wood and her sister as children wearing the outfits in front of some of the same furniture Wood still has in the home.
“I wanted a white room because I had seen the idea in a magazine and thought it would be pretty to have everything white,” Wood said. “I enjoy coming in this room and looking back at the photos of when we were kids because it brings back a lot of memories from when I was a child. I can look at those photos and remember a lot about this home.”
When Julia and Richard (the former pharmacist and owner of Wood Drugs in Thorsby) moved into the home, they decided to move the house back and over 30 feet and added on to the original part of the house.
Unfortunately, Richard passed away shortly after the remodeling process began and was unable to enjoy the renovations on the home.
Julia enlisted the majority of the remodeling process to Glenn Littleton who she credits with a lot of the ideas for the addition to the house.
“Without Littleton, a lot of the newer part to this house would not be here,” Wood said. “He helped me so much because he truly cherishes the rich history rooted in this home and was able to come up with some wonderful ideas for the addition.”
One of Wood’s favorite pieces in the newly added addition of the home is a wooden fireplace built by Littleton with the front mantle inscribed in Swedish the phrase Kom och varm dig vid elden which means, “come and warm thee by the fire.”
Another period piece that Wood displays inside her kitchen is a copper template hanging above her kitchen sink resembling a stencil with the words, “Vineyard No.”
Wood explained she found the template in a shed located in the backyard when she first moved into the home and found out it was a template used when Thorsby was first constructed for posts as the town was being laid out.
“When Thorsby was being constructed they didn’t have streets, they had vineyards,” Wood said. “This was a template to make the signs for the posts indicating the particular vineyards for the town.”
Included in the addition is a master bedroom and bath, living room and upstairs media room as well as a wooden staircase with wood made to replicate the original wood in the older part of the house.
An intricate detail near the dining room is a separate fireplace on the first level of the two-story house that has apothecary tiles built into the mantle. Wood said her husband received the tiles during his time as a pharmacist and she thought it would be neat to display them.
“I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with them and then I thought about placing the tiles inside the mantle,” Wood said. “I wanted them to be used instead of keeping them in a box somewhere and I think it turned out really nice.”
Wood explained that her mother kept many sentimental items including old pairs of baby shoes, clothing and photos that Wood now displays throughout the home.
The dining room is complete with six doors and two windows with one of the doors leading to Wood’s favorite part of the house, her “kitchen porch.”
The porch has white lace curtains in front of the open partitions with wicker furniture that Wood often uses when guests come to visit.
“I have always enjoyed this area,” Wood said. “When my friends come over they always like to come sit out here. I will sit out here a lot of times and read.”
Wood now gives tours of her home for groups including Chilton Leadership and Senior Connection in Clanton.
“I think because of the history surrounding the house people enjoy seeing what is inside,” Wood said. “I can’t refuse when someone calls to see it because I’m sure there are a lot of people who drive by and wonder what this house looks like on the inside.”
Although Wood admits there are challenges to keeping up an older home including keeping the painted white walls of the exterior of the home clean with mops and “scrubbing” Wood said she enjoys the home for the memories she has connected to it.
“I grew up in Thorsby and my entire life this home was a place I visited and lived at one time,” Wood said. “I have a lot of memories here and there are many things that remind me of when I grew up. If I had built a brand new house I wouldn’t have been able to have a lot of the memories I keep with me now.”
Wood also notes that the home has always been thoroughly kept up and every person that has lived in the home has taken care of it.
“I do have fears that something will one day go wrong with the house that I will not be able to fix but so far, this home has always been well taken care of,” Wood said.
The heritage of the home is something Wood will forever cherish and hopes to continue that heritage for many years to come.
As each guest prepares to leave, a small, white guestbook located at a table in the foyer invites those that have been inside the home to document their visit.
“My mother always asked guests to sign their name in this guestbook when they visited this home so I like to keep up with the tradition,” Wood said.