It was built in 1883 for Henry Martyn Stringfellow, a Confederate Army veteran and onetime slave owner. Despite his past allegiance to the South, he paid freed men a dollar a day, more than twice the going rate, to tend his 30 acres of pear trees. This planter was more than fair to his employees. Stringfellow's neighbors pressured him to keep wages down, but he didn't, giving his workers resources to buy land and build houses and schools. As African-Americans, we felt this home would be good ground for us.
We all pitched in to demolish moisture- and termite-damaged areas and to strip wallpaper off original cypress boards inside. My father, a master electrician, helped me with rewiring and recommended an HVAC guy to put in central air and heat.