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The origins of the Chapman House

David Adlerstein
The Apalachicola Times

Editor’s note: Apalachicola local historian Mark Curenton wrote to tell us that he enjoyed the article in last week’s Times (See Sept. 10 “Famed Chapman House changes hands”).

“I just have one issue with it,” he wrote. “In the article you state that Dr. Chapman built the house in 1847. I know that is what Helen Tudor says and what is listed on the historical marker, but the evidence does not support Dr. Chapman as the builder of the house.

The wills:Inheriting a house

“In his will Dr. Chapman states that he has owned the house at the corner of Avenue E and 6th Street since 1874. The deed was in the clerk of court’s office to be recorded when the office used as the courthouse burned that year.

Locally the oldest tax roll is the 1876 roll, but at the State Archives in Tallahassee they have older copies of the tax roll available on microfilm. The earliest rolls do not specify what property an individual owned, just that they were being taxed for a certain number of lots.

The 1869 tax roll listed A. W. Chapman as owning no lots in town. The 1872 tax roll lists Dr. Chapman, as the agent for the estate of Wm. T. Wood, as responsible for 20 city lots and several sections of land in Township 7 South, Range 5 West.

The 1873 tax roll was the first to list the individual lots each taxpayer owned. A. W. Chapman was listed as owning no town lots, but he was listed as the agent for W. T Wood’s estate, which included Lots 1 and 2, Block 22, which is where the Chapman House is located.

The Chapman House as it looked in 1896
The Chapman House, photographed in Feb. 1961.

William T. Wood was a merchant in Apalachicola and the husband of Dr. Chapman’s stepdaughter. Mr. Wood was the father of the two granddaughters that Dr. Chapman left his property to. I believe that Mr. Wood might have built the house, but I have no way of knowing for certain. Definitely he was the owner of the house prior to his death.”