Thursday, July 19, 2007

Historic Preservation in Tuscaloosa

Walkerpercy This morning brings another great story from my local paper, the Tuscaloosa News, on the efforts to preserve one a landmark in town--an antebellum mansion.  The whole story is worth a read (you may have to register with the paper--it's free), but the property lawyer in me is particularly interested in the concluding paragraphs:

After changing hands several times following Drish’s death, the home passed from private hands in 1906 to the Tuscaloosa Board of Education, which used it as a school.

In the 1920s the board rented the building to Tuscaloosa Wrecking Service and the building, with the company’s name over the first floor and “AUTO PARTS" over the second floor in large white-on-black letters, became the subject of a 1936 photograph by Walker Evans, co-author of the Depression-era classic, “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men."

In 1940 the Drish House was purchased by the nearby Southside Baptist Church, which built a sanctuary abutting the house. The church used it sparingly over the years until it closed its doors for good three years ago because of a dwindling congregation.

Remaining church members held onto the deed to the house until last week, said Bobby Ledbetter, a former church member who was instrumental in the handover to the preservation society at no cost.

“We hope it is finally in good hands now and that the preservation society will be able to fix it up and restore it to what it used to be," he said.

Endnote: I've illustrated this post with Walker Evans's photograph, from the Library of Congress' Collection.  More photographs here.

Alfred L. Brophy
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I love this house. I read about it in Kathryn Tucker Windham's "13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey" when I was about 7 years, and I have been obsessed every since.

Posted by: Wendi | May 13, 2008 10:29:04 AM

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