Remembering Bobby Bowden…….And The “Marrying Man’s House”

Chattanooga, Tennessee  (WDEF) — Hall of Fame football coach Bobby Bowden will be laid to rest Saturday.

In Tallahassee, where he built Florida State into a national powerhouse.

Bowden was 91 years old when he died earlier this week.

Many people might not know that Bowden had a strong connection to the Chattanooga area.

A STRONG connection, that lasted over seven decades!

Bowden will always be linked with Florida State.

But he had a bond with a house in Rising Fawn, Georgia as well.  It’s a home built in the late 1800’s. Sitting on 7 1/2 acres.

Man, does it have a story to tell!

You see, back in the day, hundreds of folks came to the beautiful home on Highway 11.

For a specific reason. To include Bobby Bowden. And Ann Estock.

Bowden was 19 years old at the time. Ann was only 16.

On that April day back in 1949, Ann and Bobby walked inside. And took their marriage vows.

Against their parents wishes. That marriage lasted over 72 years.

Darlene and Robin Rogers are the homeowners. They weren’t sure if that story was true. Until………

“My husband was at a luncheon in Chattanooga. Terry Bowden was the keynote speaker. He talked about loving Chattanooga, because his parents were married just down the road in Rising Fawn. My husband was in the audience thinking……’it’s true’!”

The Bowden’s weren’t the only couple to walk up to the house.

Roughly 17,000 came to the home to tie the knot. When it was owned by Judge William Hale.

They would often come unannounced. At all hours of the night. Honk the horn. The judge would marry them.

Either inside the little window nook, or in front of the fireplace. It cost a few more bucks in front of the fire.

That is why the home is always referred to as the “Marrying Man’s House.”

Darlene and Robin have owned it for 30 years. Oh, the tales they’ve heard!

“People would stop by and say oh, my parents were married here. And they would share their stories. They would even say that Judge Hale would say ‘you’ve got your honey. I’ve got my money.’ They’d tell us about how his wife would play the piano while the Judge married them. We loved those stories.”

Darlene and Robin have the house up for sale now.

Time to down-size. It’s a bitter sweet move.

But they say it’s a priority that it’s sold to the right family. Folks who understand it’s history.

And love.

And connection to one of college football’s all-time great coaches.

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