16 Main Street - Clay House
Backstory and Context
Clay House was the home of Sarah A. Clay, widow of Andrew J. Clay a private in the Molly Walton Guard and casualty of the Civil War. Sarah was also the daughter in law of the first Mayor of Madison Thomas J. Clay. Sarah Clay was listed as a seamstress with one child in the 1870 census living in downtown Madison. Her son Wiley Webb was killed in the “battle of the Wilderness”. This House was originally a 2 story, 2 room federal style house, without a porch of any kind. The Bungalow style porch was added in the 1920’s when Dr. J. Ollie Wikle bought the house.
Sarah Russell Clay, Civil War widow of Andrew Clay, was the first owner of Lot 7. However, she initially lived on the south half of Lot 7, later dwelling on Lot 9. The north “part” of Lot 7 was deeded by Sarah to Thomas and John Hopkins, grandsons of Alabama's second governor Thomas Bibb, acting as agents for a Protestant Episcopal Church. The deed stipulated that the property was to be used as a "Poor House" for widows and orphans of soldiers and other destitute persons. The occupations of subsequent owners indicate that the structure was used through the years not only for family residences, but also probably as Madison's first hotel, mortuary, hospital, museum of fine china, and art gallery.