Helen Buck <I>Taylor</I> Abbot

Helen Buck Taylor Abbot

Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, USA
Death 15 Mar 1975 (aged 83)
Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, USA
Burial Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, USA
Memorial ID 44797957 · View Source
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Daughter of Mobile mayor Richard Vipon Taylor and Helen Billingslea (Buck) Taylor. She graduated from the Knott School in Mobile (1908) and the Ogontz School for Young Ladies in Philadelphia. She married Nov. 27, 1912, Capt. James Lloyd Abbot, III. She was a member of Mobile's Study Club, the Reading Club, the Shakespeare Club, and the Camelia Club.

She sometimes accompanied her mother on cross-country trips in Col. Taylor's private rail car when Mrs. Taylor went to her public speaking engagements. In 1908 she and her mother went to San Francisco and from there sailed to Japan and China where they visited her two elder brothers, Dr. Adrian Stevenson Taylor and Dr. R.V. Taylor, Jr., who were medical missionaries.

As the Mardi Gras Queen of 1911, her embroidered gown was completely white, the train white velvet embroidered with fleur de lis in pearls and rhinstones, her colar white ostrich plumes. A fancily-decorated white carriage pulled by white horses arrived at her home driven by a coachman in top hat to carry her down Government Street to the Lyric Theater for her coronation. The queen's gown and train survived the conflagration of the Abbot home at Abbot Station in 1915 only to be cut down later to make a costume for her son, J.L. "Doc" Abbot, who was a page to Queen Marian Acker in the Mardi Gras court of 1925.

She married in 1912 Capt. James Lloyd Abbot, III, who, like her father, her uncle Hannis Taylor, and her father-in-law J.L. Abbot Jr., was a member of the Order of Myths.
In 1921, she was the Leading Lady of the Infant Mystics, the queen of the I.M. ball.

Mrs. Abbot said that she was six years old when she moved to 910 Government Street, built by Joel Abbot Roberts and his wife Mary Taylor Bolles Roberts, who was a cousin of Capt. Abbot's grandmother, and that her father installed electricity in the house that year (1897) and in 1905 added the east wing where her brother's wedding took place in 1906 and a memorable party for her debut in 1911. The 1905 wing was built on an adjoining lot that was deeded from Elizabeth Bolles to her daughter Mary Roberts in 1855 after the Robertses had moved into the new house adjoining it in October 1854. 1905 tax records confirm that R.V. Taylor was accessed for one house and lot, five west of Broad Street, and later in the year two houses, five and six west of Broad, whereas prior tax records had shown 910 as house and lot and adjoining vacant lot while all subsequent tax assessments to date show one house sitting on two lots. Architectural and photographic documentation further suggest that R.V. Taylor extensively remodeled the west wing after damage by fire in the north and west wings.

Helen accompanied her parents on a buying trip to New England, visiting their ancestral home in Bucksport, Maine, and returned with three boxcars full of antique furniture shipped from Boston. 1906 newspapers described her brother Adrian's wedding reception as possibly the largest gathering ever held in a private home in Mobile and the house was redecorated in blue and white at that time. Four of the 1905 fireplaces were decorated with Rookwood Pottery tiles, two in blue and two in white Faience tile from the Rookwood Pottery Company in Cincinnati.

Mrs. Abbot loved her childhood home. She evidently felt a constant connection to the first family, Joel Abbot Roberts and his wife, Mary Taylor Bolles, often unearthing their old bottles, dishes, fragments and sherds when she worked in her flowerbeds, some of which relics she saved such as the Roberts' monogrammed Royal Worcester mantle ewer which later estate appraisers dated circa 1770. After the stock market crash of 1929, necessity forced the Taylors to move to their summer home at Point Clear and to partition the Government Street house into eight furnished apartments. They kept the main house for their own use when in town, but rent collected from the apartments was "never enough to pay the electric bill." On Nov. 1, 1940, Mrs. Abbot purchased from her mother the house which held happy childhood memories for her and she operated five rental apartments, keeping the main floor for herself though she was never able to persuade her husband to restore the house and live there except part-time. They lived at Seven Hills after the burning of their home at Abbot Station, but each day she drove to town and contented herself tending the house and its contents, working in her flowers or sitting on the porch and visiting her tenants and neighbors. She also spent many hours cataloging and organizing the numerous artifacts stored there. The twenty rooms and seven bathrooms were a virtual time capsule where only minimal changes had been made since 1926, its tight partitions preserving samples of wallpaper, paint and decorative schematics from its earliest years through the 1920s and also ensuring that the larger furnishings remained in place until the partitions could be removed. These furnishings were primarily antebellum in age, though placed in the house only since 1897, with most other pieces onsite since 1905. Some of the older family heirlooms were originally from Mrs. Taylor's childhood home, Shell Cottage. Over the years, the family used the house for family and social gatherings, and at various times the three children, several grandchildren, nephews and assorted other relatives were provided furnished apartments as well.

A 1939 aerial photograph made before the kitchen house and northeast dependency were demolished show a tiny courtyard surrounded on three sides by the north wing, east wing and northeast dependency.

The last major alterations were made in 1940 when the northeast wing was demolished, containing garage and servants' quarters along with the old kitchen house, and a new garage was built. The north wing galleries were widened and enclosed with the addition of three new bathrooms, making seven, and nearly doubling the size of the north wing, bringing the total square footage at 7,000 feet not counting the attic.

According to her son, Rev. R. Taylor Abbot, his mother said "They moved the kitchen into the warming kitchen around 1890 and then set the house on fire, so that was why they had to mortgage it."

During World War II, Capt. Abbot recorded plans to enclose the front balconies and porches to house soldiers, but this was never carried through. He had hoped to demolish the house for a bank parking lot after Mrs. Abbot's death, but when those plans were thwarted, he surprised his children by moving into the old house as his wife had always wanted. He lived there until two weeks shy of his 100th birthday, when he died in the room where his wife's debut had been celebrated more than seventy years before.

Letter from Mrs. Stephens Croom on Historic Mobile Preservation Society stationery, address 350 Oakleigh Place, dated March 23, 1959, in an envelope with the return address: "Historic Mobile Preservation Society/ Mrs. Gilbert F. Dukes, 145 Silverwood, Mobile, Alabama" no zip code, addressed to: "Mrs. Lloyd Abbot, 910 Government Street, Mobile, Alabama," no zip code: "Dear Mrs. Abbot: We were so sorry you could not be present Saturday for the Historic Society Tea honoring Mobile's former Carnival Queens, and want you to know you were missed. The exquisite crown you have so generously given the Society for their permanent exhibit was greatly admired. We are grateful for this gracious gift which will add to the interest of our Carnival exhibit at Oakleigh. Sincerely, (signed) Velma Croom."

Receipt dated March 21, 1959, without accession number but with (receipt number) "No. 79" reads: "Received of Mrs. Lloyd Abbot the following: Mardi Gras Queen's Crown 1911, GIFT. (signed) Mrs. John F. Lyle, Historic Mobile Preservation Society."

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  • Created by: Ray Isbell
  • Added: 25 Nov 2009
  • Find A Grave Memorial 44797957
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Helen Buck Taylor Abbot (4 Sep 1891–15 Mar 1975), Find A Grave Memorial no. 44797957, citing Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Mobile County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Ray Isbell (contributor 47188697) .