When Campbell Allen Harlan (1907-1972) was growing up in Columbia, Tennessee there was near by and ante-bellum plantation home. It was called Skipwith Hall. It had once belonged to members of the Harlan family, perhaps C. Allen's grandparents or great grand parents. To that young boy it symbolized success, wealth, and the respect of the community. It was a driving force all his life.
C. Allen moved to Detroit during the depression. In 1951 he purchased 30 acres of land north of the city. On that land he build a house designed by George Berry, cousin of his wife, Ivabell. It was a big house for a big family. It was a house with character. It was designed in the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright. All the rooms were wood paneling. Not cheap four by eight stuff you can buy, but 3/4" tongue and grooved wood boards. The bedrooms were cherry, the kitchen and recreation room were oak, and the living room, dining room and library were black walnut. It as a magnificent house!
C. Allen named it "Eloptac Hall."
To him it meant that he had "arrived."
And when strangers would ask him what "Eloptac" meant he would tell them that it came from the Chipewa language and meant "favored resting place." He would point out the pond and the tree with the crooked branch. After all, the indians would deform a tree to mark a special place.
But C. Allen never met a stranger in his life. So the real story would quickly come out.
C. Allen was a country boy at heart. He was wise enough to not take himself too seriously. The house and its name symbolized the same success, wealth, and respect of the community that Skipwith Hall had meant to him many years before. But if you looked closely at the polish and charm and sophistication something just didn't smell quite right. C. Allen loved to tell the story. With a twinkle in his eye and his booming laughter he would proclaim that "Eloptac," after all, is Pole Cat spelt backward. And every good county boy knows a Pole Cat is just a common skunk.