An early settler in Montgomery, lawyer Abram Martin, built his home at the crest of the South Court Street hill about 1834. A few years after Martin’s death in 1875, the family sold the house, which, according to an appraiser, was “old and of an old style.” A new owner moved it around the corner onto Wilson Street and modernized it. It looked this way when schoolmaster Elly Barnes acquired the house in the early 20th century. Barnes conducted the highly respected Barnes School for Boys for many years on Clayton Street in an 1830s house now known as the Figh-Picket-House which is now also relocated to South Court Street and is the home for the Montgomery County Historical Society.
One of the oldest remaining houses in Montgomery, the Martin-Barnes House demonstrates the architectural transitions from simple log and rough-hewn frame houses to more comfortable, stylish dwellings. This house, based on the dogtrot plan with rooms opening off a central hall, reflects the influence of the Federal style in the reeding on door and window surrounds. During the renovation of the late 19th century, gables with windows were added on the front, the porch was extended and adorned with Eastlake trim. In 1981, Landmarks removed the additions to the house, brought the house to Old Alabama Town, and restored it to the earlier period with a replicated Federal front portico designed by restoration architect Nicholas Holmes.