DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — Decatur city council on Tuesday made the long-awaited decision to move the house that belonged to Judge James Horton to the site for a proposed museum in Decatur.
Local advocates have sought for years to move the home from Limestone County to Morgan County where Judge Horton ruled against racial injustice in 1933 in one of the Scottsboro Boys trials.
In 1931, nine black youths were arrested and falsely accused of raping two white women. They were indicted less than a week after their arrests and convicted but some were sentenced to death until judge Horton stepped in. Against heavy pressure from a racist court system, judge Horton set aside the verdict of one of the boys from his courtroom in Decatur.
The bold move saved the boys’ lives and Horton retired and moved into a home that after the efforts of local advocates, the Celebrating Early Old Town with Art organization, will now be a part of a museum.
“Our purpose is to promote, preserve, share and educate the history of the Old Town community and leave a legacy for the Scottsboro Boys and Judge James E. Horton,” said Francis Tate, the founder of CEOTA.
In 2021, Tate asked the city council to move the home from Limestone County to Decatur to preserve it in honor of judge Horton’s bravery and how he stood against racial injustice. The city council finally agreed, and the home will now be a part of a planned museum that preserves the legacy of the boys.
“Our phase one is the house where Ruby Bates was housed during the trial,” Tate explained. “Phase two will be a multi-million-dollar civil rights museum connected to that house. Then phase three is the relocation of judge Horton’s house. That is so important.”
The home will be situated in Decatur’s Old Town community. Two of Horton’s granddaughters, Susan Faulkner and Jenny Horton, donated the house to the museum. Horton lived in the house at the greenbrier location from 1940 until he died in 1973.
Decatur city council voted to secure nearly $900,000 to move the home from Limestone County to Old Town Decatur.
The move is expected to begin this summer.