Gaineswood National Historic Landmark
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Between 1843 and 1861, Nathan Bryan Whitfield, cotton planter and Renaissance man, transformed a dogtrot cabin into what we know as Gaineswood in Demoplis, Alabama. Whitfield was his own designer, taking ideas from architectural books of the day and from his travels. By 1856, Whitfield named the house for George Strother Gaines, who owned the original dogtrot cabin around which Whitfield built his house. His son, Bryan Watkins Whitfield, helped develop Gaineswood, ordering mantels from Philadelphia and designing and fabricating the property's circular observatory, known as "The Ring." Skilled enslaved and free African American workers did most of the work on the house, along with itinerant artists. John Gibson, who had designed stained glass for the U.S. Capitol, designed art glass transoms depicting classical scenes for Gaineswood.