Preserving A National Treasure

Local Museum honoring Congressman Carl Elliott awarded grant through the Walker Area Community Foundation

The Carl Elliott House Museum is a historic house museum detailing the life of Congressman Carl A. Elliott, Sr. and the times in which he lived. The modest home in downtown Jasper demonstrates that a man from an ordinary or even poor background can accomplish extraordinary things. 

Carl Elliott was born in Franklin County and graduated high school there at sixteen. He received both his undergraduate and law degree from the University of Alabama. While a law student, Elliott ran for president of the Student Government. Elliott became the first person ever to defeat “the Machine,” a select coalition of fraternities and sororities that to this day dominates campus politics at the university. 

Elliott set up practice in Jasper, AL and was elected as a local judge before running for Congress. He was elected to eight consecutive terms, having served from 1949 to 1965 in Alabama’s 7th congressional district. In 1956, Elliott authored the Library Services Act, which brought mobile libraries (bookmobiles) and continuing library service to millions of rural Americans. In 1958, he co-authored the National Defense Education Act, improving science, foreign language, and technology education nationwide and provided low-interest loans for college and graduate school for needy students. Both laws have been extended; more than 30 million college students nationwide have obtained loans under Elliott’s NDEA legislation. 

The Congressman introduced legislation which would change the face of education in America. He served as a trusted advisor to President Kennedy. And he fought for racial tolerance and a better quality of life in in Alabama at a time most Alabamians didn’t want to listen. Despite political exile and financial ruin, Elliott continued to stand for the values he believed in, earning him international acclaim in his later life. 

In 2000, Bevill State Community College purchased the home where Carl Elliott resided during the final years of his life. This was done in conjunction with a Memorandum of Agreement between Bevill State, the city of Jasper, AL, and Elliott’s daughters, Lenora Elliott Cannon and Martha Elliott Russell. The hope was that his legacy would be maintained for future generations by establishing the Carl Elliott House Museum. 

In  December of 2019, Bevill State was awarded a Don Drummond Family Fund “Bricks and Mortar” Grant through the Walker Area Community Foundation for the Carl Elliott House Museum Preservation Project. This grant is allowing for the replacement of carpet, in addition to new energy efficient windows and a roof. This project is currently ongoing.

“Bevill State Community College is extremely grateful to the Drummond family and the Walker Area Community Foundation for supporting the College’s efforts to maintain and preserve this national treasure,” stated Dr. Kim Ennis, President of Bevill State Community College. 78

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