Rally Hill is located one-quarter mile southwest of the Public Square of Columbia in the heart of the Athenaeum Historic District. Sitting on approximately two acres, the house is situated toward the rear of a wooded and landscaped lot and is surrounded to the north, south, and west by many blocks of Victorian era and early-twentieth homes. The downtown commercial district begins one-half block to the east. The home holds great historic significance and is a valued asset to Maury County and the City of Columbia. Built in 1848 for James Walker, President James K. Polk’s brother-in-law, Rally Hill is a good illustration of the change from the Federal to the Greek Revival style in south central Tennessee. The home is listed on the National Registry and received nomination for its architectural and historical significance to Columbia and Maury County.
Historic Image of Rally HillThe original house presented a symmetrical configuration, with a five-bay façade on the front, which faces due north, and two one-storied, one-room wings to the east and west. Prior to 1890, a two-storied addition was built on the west end of the house and incorporated the original west wing. Currently, Rally Hill presents a six-bay façade with the original one-storied east wing still visible. Adorned with four porches, one on each side of the house. The largest and most decorative porch, being on the front, is supported by four wooden pillars and extends to the bottom of the second story. There are four outbuildings on the property. The original detached two-story kitchen sits behind the home and a frame house [one-storied, two-bedroom] was built on the northeast corner of the property in 1903 for use as a physician’s office. Framed garages on each side of the main house built in the 1920s are currently used for storage and work space.
Mr. James Walker, for whom Rally Hill was constructed, was very important to Maury County and Columbia too. Below you will find a few of his many endeavors:
- Founded Maury County’s first newspaper, “The Western Chronicle” in 1811 and became its printer, editor, and publisher.
- Co-founded the first bank in Maury County.
- Owner of a Tennessee River steamboat.
- In 1829 Mr. Walker founded St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where he served many years as Senior Warden of the Vestry.
- He became the War Department contractor responsible for furnishing provisions to the impoverished Chickasaw Indians.
- Mr. Walker was a moving force in the Tennessee Democratic Party and instrumental in the rise to the Presidency of his brother-in-law, James K. Polk.
- He served on the first board of trustees of the Columbia Female Institute, owned a successful store on Public Square and served as Mayor of Columbia in 1830 and 1831.
Rally Hill is a grand structure located on one of, if not, the largest residential lots in Columbia proper, and provides an anchor to the Athenaeum Historic District in which it is situated. This building is an excellent local example of an architectural design combining the Federal and Greek Revival styles.
Contemporary Image of Rally HIll
For more information about Columbia's Historic Zoning program, contact Planner II, Robert Archibald, or City Planner Kevin C. McCarthy, AICP.