The Home of
Trey and Samantha Bentley
Christmas past and present meet gracefully in the historic Huntsville home of Trey and Samantha Bentley. The Bentleys reside in the Bibb House, constructed by Thomas Bibb.
Bibb was the first president of the Alabama Senate and the second governor of Alabama. He completed the construction of the Greek Revival style house in 1836 as their “town” home. The Bibb family’s other residence was a plantation in Bell Mina, Ala. In a newspaper advertisement that year, Bibb referred to the Huntsville home as a “new splendid family residence on Williams Street.” It is said that the home was occupied by federal officers during the Civil War, including General Sherman.
The home now serves as a true family gathering place for the Bentleys, especially during the holidays. The couple has three children – Brett Maxey, married to Nate; Wind Bentley, married to Tori ; and Chase Bentley; and six grandchildren – Henley, Vance, Stanley, Braylee, Miller and Henry Maxey. Samantha Bentley related, “We celebrate Christmas a couple of nights early. The children and grandchildren come over. The last couple of years we began with a carriage ride followed by a traditional Christmas dinner. We open gifts after dinner, then finally we enjoy dessert.” She continued, “We attend church service on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning is quiet. We go to Brett’s Christmas afternoon to see what Santa Claus brought the children.”
Approaching the generous home, the entrance’s central portico with triangular pediment reflects the Greek Revival style, with soaring columns standing sentry before paneled doors festooned with magnolia, berries and cedar and crowned with a pinecone wreath. “Ron and Mark of In Bloom always decorate our front doors and our mantels,” Bentley explained.
Inside, in the home’s main foyer, the grand staircase is draped with fir boughs and ribbons, its wood banister curving elegantly, ending in velvet ribbons and a cluster of pinecones, carrying the outdoor motif inside.
Inviting guests to linger, a stately evergreen tree twinkles with white lights and traditional ornaments. “I enjoy unwrapping our ornaments every year,” Bentley said, “There are ornaments from Trey’s and my childhood, ornaments that were my mother’ s, some that were wedding gifts, some from ornament swaps with friends, and ornaments that our children made. So many of them have special memories.” The tree stands near floor-to-ceiling windows anchored by an ornate plaster fireplace surrounded by a brass fender. “My mother-in-law cross-stitched our stockings,” she stated. “They are truly beautiful.”
Continuing the natural theme, greenery, pinecones and berries adorn the dark stone fireplace in the dining room. Gilt cornices top the windows, echoing the style of the French mantel mirror. The home’s original library boasts a mirrored overmantel with swag detail that soars to ceiling height, the mantel’s delicate ginger jars flanking a trio of China filigree angels. The holiday theme continues with boxwood wreaths hung on brass sconces inset between the molding in the hall of windows. On the patio, cozy pillows and wreaths reflect the festive season
The Bentleys have hosted numerous family and community events in their home over the years, including engagement parties, several fundraisers and the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra’s Silver Tea. The home was also the venue for their son’s wedding, hosted by the bride’s parents. “That was the second known wedding in the house’s history,” Bentley said of the event. “The first wedding was the wedding of Susan Bradley, granddaughter of Governor Bibb, to Thomas White. At that wedding, the dining room table collapsed under the weight of the delicious food waiting to be served to the wedding guests.”
While the Bentley’s substantial dining room table is in no danger of collapsing, the family is carrying on the historic tradition of delicious food and family that makes their house a gracious home for the holidays.
Photo provided by Bloom