Originally built in 1864 in Columbia, Alabama; recognized as one of the oldest surviving towns in Southeast Alabama. This structure has seen some major history. Columbia Manor was originally built as a college known as Columbia Institute. Later becoming a sanitarium to quarantine victims of Pellagra. In the 1800's very little was known about this disease. However, Pellagra was still very common among poor Americans whose diets consisted mostly of corn, molasses, and salt pork -- all poor sources of niacin. Today we know Pellagra is a disease caused by a lack of the vitamin niacin or B3. To paint a more gruesome picture of the time, the classic symptoms of pellagra are diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and death ("the four Ds"). A more comprehensive list of symptoms includes:
High sensitivity to sunlight, Aggression, Dermatitis, alopecia (hair loss), edema (swelling), Smooth, beefy red glossitis (tongue inflammation), Red skin lesions, Insomnia, Weakness, Mental confusion, Ataxia (lack of coordination), paralysis of extremities, peripheral neuritis (nerve damage), Diarrhea, Dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged, weakened heart), Eventually dementia.
Combine a lack of knowledge and the horrible symptoms of this disease in the mid 1800s and you have the beginning stages of an epidemic. Anyone showing signs of Pellagra were immediately taken to the Hospital and admitted where they would spend the remainder of the their life once diagnosed. Quarantined from the general public they spent their time sick and in pain. A life full of isolation and desperation. Many of the patients were only children. However, disease isn't the only cause of death tainting these walls. It is said that Doctor John Yarborough and his nurse were having an affair; once the doctors wife found out and the affair became public the nurse was found hanging from the chandelier in the main foyer and the doctor is said to have shot himself in the head with a pistol in what we now refer to as the front room. The spirit of the doctor is said to still be residing at the Manor to this day. He has been seen wondering the hallways and around the property. From time to time the chandelier in the main foyer will swing side to side without a reasonable explanation. We at the Manor believe this to be the spirit of the nurse. Early in the 1900s the house partially burned. Several fatalities were reported, mostly children. Surprisingly the building remained a medical facility until the late 1940s. By 1950 the property was purchased and our beloved Manor became know as The Armstrong House. Owned by the towns Mayor, it was now a private residence. By 1960 the house fell victim once again to a fire. At this time the second story was completely burned. However, the house remained a private residence over the next few years, home to many families between the late 60's to early 2000s. In 2009 Todd Chandler purchased the property with a dream. The dream was not only to open this haunted historical site to the public, but to also give back to the community. With the help of many individuals over the past ten years this dream has became a reality. Giving back to the community has always been a top priority at Columbia Manor, because we believe you can only keep what you have by giving it away.