Days Gone By - stories from the past

Bluff Hall, Marengo County – this beautiful and historic mansion has been preserved

[This beautiful mansion in Marengo County has a long history that includes visitors and residents who were vital to the beginning days of Alabama. I’m glad Marengo County historical society restored it.]

Bluff Hall also known as Lyon-Smith House

Bluff Hall was built atop a limestone cliff overlooking the Tombigbee River in 1832 by Allen Glover for his daughter, Sarah Serena Glover, and her husband, Frances Strother Lyon in Demopolis, Alabama. It is also known as the Lyon-Smith house. The area is known as White Bluff.

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White Bluff, Marengo County, Alabama by Altairisfar

White_Bluff_Demopolis by photographer Altairisfar

Frances Strother Lyon (1800-1882) was a prominent Alabama attorney and politician. He was a nephew of General Edmund Pendleton Gaines and Col. George Strother Gaines and the son of James and Behetheland (Gaines) Lyon. His father was a native of Virginia. In 1817, Frances came with his brother James G. Lyon to live with his uncle George Strother Gaines in Alabama. George S. Gaines was the Native American agent of the United States government in St. Stephens.

Frances Strother Lyon

Frances Strother Lyons

Frances Strother Lyon was admitted to the bar in 1821. He married Sarah Serena, the daughter of Allen and Sarah (Norwood) Glover who lived in Demopolis. Their children were:

  1. Mary Amanda Lyon – married William H. Ross of Mobile who served as major in the Confederate Army
  2. Sarah Norwood Lyon – married Oliver H. Prince, a law partner of Mr. Lyon who was killed while commanding a company in the 43rd Alabama Infantry at Chickamauga, Sept. 20, 1863
  3. Helen G. Lyon – married General Zachary C. Deas, a general in the Confederate army who died in New York, March 6, 1882.
  4. Amelia Lyon
  5. Eugenia Lyon
  6. Frank Glover Lyon – who died March 13, 1893 – a lieutenant in the Army on the staff of his brother-in-law, General Deas. – married Sarah Henley, daughter of John W. Henley
  7. Ida Lyon – married Dr. William M. Polk

The couple used Bluff Hall as a townhouse since they also owned other plantations, and had a country estate at nearby Bermuda Hill. Lyon served two terms in the Confederate States Congress and was an antebellum member of the United States Congress.

The house was altered in the 1840s when a two-story front portico and a large rear wing were added. The rear wing contained the dining room and kitchen at ground level and two bedrooms on the second floor.

“The house remained in the Lyon family until October 30, 1907 when A. R. Smith purchased it. The Smith family used it as a residence until the 1940s. At that time, the upper floors were converted to apartments. The house was sold in 1948 and became an apartment house.

On March 22, 1967, the Marengo County Historical Society purchased the house to restore. It is now a historic museum, located at 405 N. Commissioners Avenue in Demopolis, Marengo County, Alabama where visitors can see period clothing and clothing.

Bluff Hall 2010 by Photographer Carol Highsmith

Bluff Hall2 2010


  1. Joel D. Jones -The Democrat-Reporter December 9, 1943
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Library of Congress

Bestselling novel RIBBON OF LOVE: 2nd edition – A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love Book 1) is the story of a first family in colonial America who fled to America to escape religious persecution, and eventually migrated to Alabama before it became a state – 

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Where can I find out more info on this man and the mansion?
    I am trying to find proof that Abraham Bird of Marengo county that his wife Sarah Gaines was connected to the Gaines family and find out who her parents were. Thanks

    1. Try the Marengo County Historical Society. They probably have the most accurate information since they restored the home. Click on their link at the bottom of the article. You might also try this Marengo county historical page here.

  2. Frances with an e and not an i?

    1. In most historical accounts on him,his name was spelled with an e not an i which surprised me too.

  3. My father Joseph Woodward Simpson of Birmingham fell in love with an anti-bellum mansion called Rosemont, between utah and Demopolis during the sixties. It was an anniversary present for my mother. Virginia Youmans Simpson. The house had suffered from time and neglect, but was still inhabited by two of the Glover decedents. Both were spinster women. My father at great expense restored all of the structural components of the home, no small project. His desire was only to preserve the home. We spent many lovely years visiting and working there. I believe the home still exists. Few would have spent the money and time on a project like this. I compliment my Father and Mother for making the sacrifice!

  4. My Granddaddy Woods was born there!

  5. I meant In county not in that house .

  6. Allen glover was one of my great great ancestors and I am named after my grandmother who was named after him

  7. Would love to know if this the family of the late Henry Lyon of Montgomery.p

  8. My daughter was married in the back yard. Beautiful.

  9. […] Bluff Hall, Marengo County – this beautiful and historic mansion has been preserved – alabamapioneers.c… […]

  10. That photo is of Lyon hall, not bluff hall

    1. Daniel Killingsworth read it again. It says AKA

    2. Montia Jewell they are two separate houses. One is Lyon Hall, one is Bluff Hall… this one is Lyon Hall

  11. Bluff Hall may have been referred to as or as the article states also known as the Lyon-Smith House, but the photo atop this article is another home that sits on Main Ave and Franklin St just south of the railroad tracks that is known as Lyon Hall. This is not Bluff Hall! That photo should be replaced with an actual photo of Bluff Hall. The photo further down in the article is Bluff Hall.

  12. I posted a link to this article on a facebook group and was immediately notified that there is an error here. This article seems to be confusing two separate mansions, Lyon Hall and Bluff Hall, though there are photos of both included in the article. Bluff Hall, as you can see in the photo, does not have a second floor balcony. Lyon Hall has the second floor balcony and is not located on the bluffs, it occupies an entire block just SW of downtown Demopolis.

  13. Interesting history. Beautiful house

  14. My favorite!!! Beautiful but feels like a home not a museum.

  15. If this is the front facade of Bluff Hall and it sits on a bluff overlooking the river (the front faces the street, the rear faces the river), then why is there a house in the backyard where the river should be?

    I believe this is a photo of Lyon Hall in Demopolis which is very similar in appearance to Bluff Hall. The real giveaway is the second floor landing which Bluff Hall does not have.

  16. Is that Bluff Hall or Lyon Hall? Two different sites.

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