Richard and I did the Sunday portion without mom, and near the end we came across something unexpected and previously unknown to us--the Kildare mansion, also known as the Kildare-McCormick House. Let's investigate.
This elaborate Queen Anne-style house was built on 72 acres in 1886-7 by Michael O'Shaugnessey, a businessman who had come to Huntsville from Nashville in 1881. He named the mansion "Kildare" after the county in Ireland where he was born.
In 1900 O'Shaugnessey sold the house to Virginia McCormick, the daughter of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the mechanical reaper. McCormick and her companion/caretaker wintered in the house and became well-known for their local philanthropic efforts. McCormick moved out of the house in 1931, and the following year the family sold it and subdivided the acreage. In the decades following various owners have used the house as a hotel, boarding house, health spa, antique shop and brothel. James Reece bought Kildare in 1975 and began extensive renovations. The current owners bought the property in 2007.
A website devoted to the house notes that "Kildare has become the target of thrill seekers, gawkers, & vandals that have hindered the restoration effort. To curb the problems so that restoration could continue, the current owners began construction of a privacy fence in October of 2013. Before the final fence design was even revealed, the fence, which is proportional to the structure (the house is over 65' tall) came under fire from the city for being ugly, too tall, too weak, AND too strong.
"A maypole dance at ""Kildare,"" the estate built by cottonseed oil tycoon, Michael O'Shaughnessy, off Meridian Street. In 1881, Michael and his brother, James F. O'Shaughnessy, used their great wealth to create the North Alabama Improvement Company and transform Huntsville's economy by funding many business projects such as the Dallas Mill and the Monte Sano Hotel."
Undated at the source; perhaps 1890's?
Source: Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Digital Archives