November 16, 2023
The 84-year-old woman never attempted to purchase the property by the court’s deadline because she thought she already owned it. Now, it is too late to try.
Corine Woodson, 84, who has lived at her property in Alabama for 60 years, is being forced out of her home by family members and investors as they sell the 40.7-acre farm.
Woodson’s family members sold 49% of the Auburn, Alabama property to Cleveland Brothers Incorporated. According to the Daily Mail, the land, located on Hamilton Road, has risen in value since its purchase more than 100 years ago by her husband’s family. The property, which was left to dozens, including 23 great-grandchildren of the original owner, may now be worth nearly $20 million.
As luxury developers build in the area and the Auburn University college town evolves, Woodson is being forced to move from her longtime residence since the land is divided by percentage ownership rather than into parcels. The scheme, called “tenants in common,” forces everyone to sell if one owner decides to sell.
The family has spent decades fighting over the property.
In 2018, AL.com reported that Doctor, the youngest son of Ben Woodson, who is the grandson of the patriarch Ben W. Woodson, tended to the property for the family. Ben W. purchased the property on January 2, 1911. After Ben and his wife, Alice, died without a will, Doctor allegedly tricked members of the family to sign over their 4.1 acres of ownership to him in the 1960s.
“Our position is that [the siblings] were under a ‘mistake of fact’ when they signed the deed,” said Yashiba Glenn Blanchard, attorney for Dorothy Burgess, another great-grandchild of Ben W. “He was like, ‘Sign over to me and I’ll hand you a deed to your potion after. That was the vessel used to get their trust. But he was tricking them and hoping to get a profit. He was hoping they would forget about [the deed] or die off and at that time he could dispose of the land how he wanted to.”
Cleveland Brothers purchased 4.1 acres in 2005 from two of Woodson’s in-laws, Mary and Catherine, the Daily Mail reported. The purchase for the two properties averaged $150,000. The company has continued to purchase percentages of the land from other relatives over time, which resulted in the 49% ownership.
“[Ben W.] bought in an ideal spot,” Ben told AL.com in 2018. “Mansions are going up all around it. When I was living there it was just woods. Now, you wouldn’t believe it.” Between 2002 and 2004, the property was valued at $1.2 million.
At the completion of a court-ordered appraisal, the Cleveland Brothers can purchase the Woodson land, KKTV 11 News reported.
“We were, I guess, naïve or not up to par on the law based on that timeframe, but it’s happening right before our eyes,” said Corine’s daughter, Melissa Woodson. “The sad thing is there is very little we can do about it.”
The court said it is too late for Corine Woodson to try to purchase the Alabama property. Bill Cleveland of Cleveland Brothers has agreed to allow her to stay in her Hamilton Road home for one year after the purchase is completed.