Shadowlawn, also known as Mosswood or the Mayer-Seale House, was built in 1840 by Norfleet Ruffin Sledge. Sledge, originally from North Carolina, settled in La Grange, Tennessee in the early 1830s. In 1838, Sledge immigrated to Holly Springs, where he supposedly built the first Marshall County Courthouse. In 1840, Sledge constructed this frame, raised basement Greek Revival house. Sledge eventually moved to Panola County, where he established the village of “Sledgeville” and became the second largest planter in the county.
In 1841, Sledge sold this home to Adrian Mayer (1804-1869), an attorney who was originally from South Carolina. As a young man, Mayer settled in Georgia, where he married his wife, Martha Lumpkin Mayer, a member of the very influential Lumpkin family. In the 1830s, the Lumpkins and Mayers moved to Holly Springs and built several plantations on the outskirts of town, including Athenia Plantation (1837), Hazelwood Plantation (1860) and Morro Plantation (1857). In 1841, Adrian and Martha moved into town and constructed this house. Mayer supposedly had one of the largest private libraries in town, and was also a writer, though none of his written works are known to survive.
The Mayer family lived here for nearly forty years, before selling the house to W. W. Wallace in 1879. Between 1879 and 1903, the home was owned by W. W. Wallace, Henry S. Dancy and and Edna McDonald. In 1903 the house was purchased by Dr. Robert A. Seale, a Holly Springs physician. After Robert’s death in 1917, his widow Etta Seale continued to live here with her family for nearly 50 years. During this time, the house was known as “Shadowlawn”, and made frequent appearances on the early Holly Springs Pilgrimage tours.
In 1967 the house was purchased by Fredonia Johnson Moss (1898-1991), the daughter of Oscar and Irene Johnson and granddaughter of Harvey Walter. Though she was nearly 70 years old, Fredonia began a major restoration and remodeling project at the Mayer-Seale House, renaming the house “Mosswood”. One of the greatest changes to the home at this time was the removal of the original Greek Revival front porch, which was replaced with the current three-bay portico with Ionic columns. After Fredonia’s death in 1991, her daughter Phoebe sold the house to Ben and Robin Seale. Ben Seale was the grandson of Dr. Robert Seale, and with the purchase of Mosswood (which was renamed back to Shadowlawn), the Seale family again owned the home, after a 25 year sojourn.
In 2018, Ben Seale passed away, and his wife Robin continues to live in the home. Shadowlawn will be a featured home on the 2019 Holly Springs Pilgrimage tour.
Shadowlawn is a Greek Revival one-and-a-half-story raised basement frame house with a gable-front portico and an entrance framed by transom and sidelights.
Thank you to the Dr. Hubert McAlexander and Jim Moore, with the Marshall County Historical Museum, for much of this information and many of the historical photographs.