459 North Court Street
This house was built for John Simpson and his wife Margaret in 1843. Simpson emigrated from northern Ireland at the request of James Jackson. Simpson operated one of the earliest stores in the city of Florence, and later expanded his wealth by building a cotton warehouse on the Tennessee River and a plantation west of the city. By 1850, he owned over 100 slaves.
The house was purchased for James Bennington Irvine in 1855 by his father-in-law G. W. Foster, whose home at Courtview still stands nearby. Irvine was a lawyer and planter who oversaw the construction of an addition on the north side for use as his law office. The house remained within the Irvine family well into the 20th century.
Built in the Federal Style, this house represents a transitional period in Florence’s architectural history. The Federal style, with its symmetry and simplicity, was to soon give way to the Greek Revival style, with its massive, outspoken columns. The Irvine House was built by slaves and features 18-inch thick brick walls. The windows on the second story are slightly smaller than those on the first, a technique used to make the house appear larger. The two-story, squared columns are not original to the design, and were added when the house was renovated in the 1940s.