BON SECOUR – The community of Baldwin County is rich in history, including old families who have been in the area for over 100 years, and even older buildings. One local family, the Swifts, lived …
BON SECOUR – The community of Baldwin County is rich in history, including old families who have been in the area for over 100 years, and even older buildings. One local family, the Swifts, lived in one of the county’s historical homes, the Swift-Coles Home, a remote house on the Bon Secour River that offers visitors a trip back in time. Once you step off the main road you find yourself surrounded by giant trees, a rare calm silence, and a huge 16-room Tidewater home, known to the family as “The Big House.”
On Wednesday, April 18, members and past members of the Baldwin Historical Development Commission, members of the Swift family, volunteers from the home, and members of the community met to dedicate a brand new historical marker in honor of the home.
“This is a really exciting day for us, we all love the Swift-Coles beautiful home,” said Baldwin County Historic Development Commission Chairman Claudia Campbell. “The Historical Development Commission members are citizens that have been appointed by the county commission, and so apparently we all love old homes and old places and old things! So we’re kind of in historian’s heaven, if you want to put it that way.”
The Historical Commission has been hoping and working for over a year to get a dedication marker placed by the Swift-Coles Home, and finally saw that dream come to fruition. The marker was placed at the corner of County Road 49 and Swift Coles Lane, so that any passing vehicle could stop and view the marker, even at times when the home is closed.
The marker is two-sided, with one side talking about the history of the Swift family, and the other side dedicated to the history of the house and the changes that it has seen throughout the years.
The home was originally built as no more than a cabin, but when it was purchased by Charles Swift, he would eventually go on to build extra space to accommodate himself, his wife Susan Swift, and their eleven children. In the 1970s, the home was purchased by Nicholas Coles, an antique dealer who brought in many of the antique items seen in the home still today. Coles bequeathed the estate to the Baldwin County Historic Development Commission in 2007, and shortly after the home was opened to tours for the public. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Following the dedication of the historical marker, another presentation took place on the porch of the home for dedications of shields and banners to members of the community.
“We’re so excited that we’re able to take care of a few fun things for Baldwin County today,” said Campbell. “One of our programs is the Shield and Banner Program, where we place a shield and banner on old homes and buildings to distinguish them from other homes around the county. These buildings are checked out by historian John Sledge, and he gives the okay if everything looks period correct and is well-maintained.”
Two shields and banners were given out, one to a local couple from Daphne who moved into a historic home there, and one to the Centennial Bank in Elberta. The Daphne home was built in 1907, and the building which now houses the Centennial Bank was built in 1926.
The Swift-Coles Home has already received a shield and banner, which is displayed on the porch leading to the front door.
“We hope we’re going to have more shields and banners going up, we’re trying to get people involved with the project,” said local historian Margaret Childress Long.
For more information on the historical marker program and the shield and banner program, check out the Baldwin County Historical Development Commission: www.bchdc.org.
For information on the Swift-Coles Home, including tour information and information for weddings or other events at the home, visit their website at www.swiftcoleshistorichome.com.