John Looney House and Pioneer Museum

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The John Looney House

The John Looney House and Pioneer Museum is a two-story dog-trot house constructed about 1820 by John Looney and his family after they relocated from Maury County, Tennessee in 1817. They settled in Beaver Valley, west of the Coosa River in the vicinity of what is now Ashville in St Clair County. The house is located at 4187 Greensport Road (St Clair County Highway 24).

Looney had three sons old enough to help with the construction, and also owned several slaves. The 19-foot x 48-foot log house was constructed on a foundation of locally-quarried stone spanned by cedar sill beams. The walls are stacks of 12-18" squared pine logs dovetailed at the corners and pegged with dowels. The floors are planed heart pine. Large fireplaces heated each lower room and the chimneys at each end were constructed of hand-pressed brick in a Flemish bond. The open dog-trot allowed air to circulate throughout the house and provided a two-level covered breezeway for shelter during hot or rainy days. The roof, framed with hand-hewn timbers, is finished with handsplit wood shakes. Soon after it was completed the entire cabin was moved to higher ground after a flood.

After John Looney's death his oldest son Henry kept the house with his wife Jane. The property was purchased by John Lonnergan in 1882. His descendants added a wing and lean-to porch onto the back and clad the house with sawn boards. They sold it to Colonel Joseph Creitz in 1949. He deeded it to the newly-formed St Clair Historical Society effective September 16, 1972.

The society immediately began to restore the deteriorating house, hiring J. T. Bullock of Gadsden to supervise. The society installed period furnishings and historical displays and continues to maintain the house and museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The society opens the house for tours one weekend each month and hosts an annual St Clair County Fall Festival there each October.

The John Looney House on fire in August 2022

The John Looney House suffered "significant" damage from a fire on the morning of August 6, 2022. The Ashville Fire Department was assisted by firefighters from Steele and Shoal Creek. Some of the materials inside the building were saved. The Alabama Fire Marshal's Office is assisting in the investigation of the fire's cause. The St Clair Historical Society plans to restore the structure.


  • Crow, Mattie Lou Teague (n. d.) History of the Looney House in St. Clair County, Alabama. St Clair Historical Society
  • Hopper, Jack (October 31, 1972) "Beaver Valley restores log cabin." The Birmingham News
  • Coman, Victoria L. (October 7, 2009) "St. Clair group hosts festival at historic John Looney House." The Birmingham News
  • Thomas, Peter R. Jr (October 8, 2019) "John Looney Pioneer House Museum" Encyclopedia of Alabama - accessed August 7, 2022
  • Gattis, Paul (August 6, 2022) "Historic Looney House in Alabama ‘heavily damaged’ in fire." The Birmingham News
  • Gattis, Paul (August 15, 2022) "How you can help restore a historic, fire-damaged Alabama house." The Birmingham News

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