Shirley Place

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The Historic Shirley Place Museum and Gardens (or James Shirley residence), located at 512 North Main Avenue in Northport is a historic house and now a city-owned museum. The house was built in 1837 and was most recently occupied by historian Marvin Harper.

The small Federal or Greek Revival styled house was constructed for James Shirley, Northport's town surveyor. The exterior is hand-pressed brick with painted wood trim. The front porch takes the form of a classical pediment supported by two Doric columns. The house passed to his sister's family, after which it became known as the Shirley-Christian Home. Harper, the great nephew of James Shirley, purchased it in the early 1980s from his mother, Mattie Shirley Harper.

The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 24, 1972. It is also one of the contributing structures to the Northport Historic District. It is featured in the city's annual "Dickens Downtown" festival.

Harper sold the house to the city in 1997 with the provision that he be allowed to stay in the house for the remainder of his life and that a trust be established for upkeep of the property. He often opened the home up for tours led by the Friends of Historic Northport and amassed a sizable archive of materials relating to the area's history.

After Harper's death in 2009 control of the property fell to the city's Shirley Place Advisory Board, which has made plans to demolish the 1930s-era rear carriage house and construct a Northport Heritage Learning Center in its place. Evans Fitts has drawn up schematic plans for the project. The Alabama Historical Commission, the Shirley Place Trust and the estate of Pat Faucett have each contributed $100,000 toward the project.


  • Cobb, Mark Hughes (May 4, 2009) "History lives on at Northport's Shirley Place." The Tuscaloosa News
  • Avant, Lydia Seabol (September 22, 2009) "Heritage center at Shirley Place gets $100,000." The Tuscaloosa News