West Gadsden Historical Society

Dedicated to saving the History of Gadsden County Florida

P.O. Drawer D
Greensboro, Florida 32330
Telephone Number: 850-442-6434
E-mail: GadsdenHistory.org@gmail.com

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History of the Dezell House


WGHS is excited to announce that the Dezell House will be open to the public Saturday and Sunday, 1 - 4 p.m., the first and last weekends of each month beginning in October to coincide with the existing twice monthly opening of the Greensboro Depot Railroad Museum. With both facilities open we can showcase the historical displays on exhibit at each facility while generating a new and renewed interest in the Society’s historical presence in the community. If you would like to volunteer as a docent at either location, please contact us. Do not pass up this opportunity to get involved!

The Dezell House was constructed by James A. Dezell, a craftsman of extraordinary vision and abilities, between the years of 1912-1919.  This house was to become a home for Dezell, his wife and their five children.  The Dezell House design is a blend of the Arts and Crafts style and the Prairie style of architecture.  The Prairie style is easily recognized in the low, spreading roofline, the exterior horizontal bandings and the ground hugging appearance of the structure.  Many modern conveniences were incorporated into this house that were not enjoyed by the majority of Dezell's neighbors.  Mr. Dezell built his house with indoor plumbing featuring a kerosene hot water heater which provided warm showers since a bathtub was not included in the bathroom.  Closet were installed in each of the four bedrooms and the home was equipped with electricity provided by an AC Delco power unit that was set just outside the kitchen door.  Each room had one light and one plug.  Porches on the house were screened since Mr. Dezell's company sold screening, a novelty item of the time. 


Today the Dezell House continues to display beautiful woodwork that was constructed by Mr. Dezell. This is seen in the five fireplace mantles, the built-in cabinets and bookcase in the living hall and wainscoting in the living hall, back hall and dining room.  A wagon wheel shaped skylight is located in the living hall where light filters into the room from each of the window located in the four dormers which sits atop of the house.


WGHS submitted an application to place the Dezell House on the National Register of Historic Places.  Awarded this distinction May 10, 2006, a marker was unveiled on November 24, 2006.


The Dezell House is open for public viewing annual on July 4th.  While many historically based renovations to the house have been completed, future plans include updating the house to provide ADA accessibility, and replacing the exterior cypress shingles that covers the lower 1/3 of the home and refinishing the interior flooring.

The Dezell family is a very unique family in this area in that they did not migrate to our county in a similar manner as many other families.  Many of our ancestors who settled in this area in the mid-1800s came from the Carolinas and Georgia.  Samuel Dezell, his wife, Mary Ford, and their children moved to Mt. Pleasant, about 8-10 miles north of here, from the southwest corner of Missouri n 1886.

What brought them to this region?  We can only speculate.  During the Civil War, Samuel was a private in the Union Army and his Company engaged in battles around Chattanooga, TN; Kennesaw, Atlanta, and Jonesborough, GA.  So he had seen an area several hundred miles to the north of Florida.  Samuel was a carpenter; therefore, it is believed he had heard of the bountiful virgin pine and hardwood forests in this area of Florida. 

The earliest census records located for the Samuel Dezell family are the 1870 Census records for the State of Illinois, Cook County, City of Chicago, which lists the household of Samuel Dezell, age 40, carpenter, and his wife Mary, as well as their children James, age 3; and Lizzie, age 9 months.

By the time of the 1880 Census, the family had moved to southwest Missouri and the household includes Samuel Dezell, age 50; his wife, Mary, age 43; and children: James, age 13 born in Illinois; Sicee, age 10 b. in Illinois; Mamie, age 8, born in Illinois; and Alice M., age 6, born in Missouri.

Most all census records for 1890 were destroyed many years ago in a fire in Washington, D.C.; therefore the first census records in Florida showing the Dezell family is in 1900.  Soon after their arrival in Florida, Samuel built a house for his family in Mt. Pleasant which still stands today and is one of the oldest houses in that community.   Miss Rachel Hubbard’s history of Mt. Pleasant refers to several houses which Samuel Dezell built in Mt. Pleasant.  

Samuel & his wife, Mary, are buried in the Old Mt. Pleasant Cemetery about 5 miles east of Chattahoochee, adjacent to the Old Mt. Pleasant United  Methodist Church.

The 1910 Census for Gadsden County, Sycamore/Greensboro District, lists James A. Dezell, age 42, born in Illinois, married 16 years, as being the manager of a lumber novelty works.  His wife, Maggie, age 41, was born in Florida as well as both of her parents.  Prior to her marriage, she was Maggie Shepard from this area. Their children are listed as : Wilbur S., age 15, who ran a band saw and planer; Leila, age 13; Frank, age 11; Elton, age 9; and Annie, age 7.  

In the 1920 census records for Greensboro, James Dezell’s daughter Leila was not shown; she was married by that time.  Wilbur was 25 and was foreman of the lumber mill; Frank, 21, was a laborer in the lumber mill; Elton, 19, was a salesman of hardware; and Annie was age 17.
The 1930 census records are the latest available at this time and in the Greensboro records it was shown that James Dezell was then 62 and wife Maggie was 61.

Their son, Wilbur, age 61, died March 5, 1956 in Quincy and was buried in Hillcrest  Cemetery.  He had been engaged in the furniture manufacturing business, along with his wife and faithful companion.  Several years previous, they disposed of their business which was at the time of his death the Hidgon-Bell Furniture Company.

Mrs. James Dezell continued to live in this house here in Greensboro for many years following the death of her husband.  Mrs. Dezell is remembered for all the beautiful flowers she had growing in the yard around the house.  She died at the age of 89 on March 11, 1958 in Delray Beach where she had been living with her daughter, Mrs. K. M. Davis.  She was also survived by sons, Frank of Miami and Elton of Jacksonville.  Both Mr. & Mrs. Dezell are buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Quincy.

James Dezell and his wife, Maggie, were very well respected people in the Town of Greensboro and the surrounding area.  James was the first mayor of Greensboro.

Dezell House

328 E. 8th Street

Greensboro, Florida 32330