The house was built in 1895 by Joseph W. Russ, Jr. a prominent landowner and merchant, for him and his mother, who lived there with him only two years before her untimely death. However, the home was owned and occupied by members of his family for exactly 100 years.
Around 1910, Mr. Russ's wife, Bettie, made extensive changes to the front facade with the addition of the rounded two-story porches, the Corinthian columns, and changes in the roof structure. Also, a kitchen and porches were added to the rear of the house. In 1929, in expectation of a new baby, an area of the upstairs porch was enclosed with casement windows for the nursery. This sun-porch area was removed during the Chamber renovation.
It is noteworthy that on the east side of the house, at one time, there was a one-story porte-cochere with Corinthian columns which allowed vehicles to approach in a manner similar to that of the park carriage trail. The roof of the porte-cochere was surrounded by baustrades which tied into the upper porch to form a deck. The reconstroction of the porte-cochere was not included in the restoration.
The Russ family's extensive land holdings had to be sold to meet debt and tax obligations following the financial collapse of 1929. In order to finance the maintenance of the house, Frances Russ Dickerson, the only child of J.W. Russ, Jr. and his wife, Bettie, offered her home as a setting for community social events, acting as hostess of these affairs and using her china and silver to serve the guests. During World War II, the upstairs bedrooms were rented to military personnel and later used as efficiency apartments.
In 1995, the Chamber of Commerce received the first of two grants fromt he Florida Bureau of Historical Preservation through the Secretary of State's Office which made it possible to purchase the house from the family and begin it's extensive restoration. Completed in 2000, it is now the permanent home of the Chamber of Commerce. The offices of the Chamber have been furnished by generous donations of concerned citizens of Jackson County.
The property is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The beautiful garden, The Russ House Commons, was also completed in 2000 by the Florida Department of Transportation and is now the property of the City of Marianna.
The house is always open to the public during the Chamber's business hours and the public is encouraged to enjoy the beautiful park and gardens year round.
Cited from Self-Guided Tour of the Marianna Area. Presented by Main Street Marianna and Chipola Historical Trust Jackson County Florida
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