Cottages! A Tour

An exciting new fall event will cater to our Midtown fascination with house tours and seeing how our neighbors live! The Old Cloverdale Spring Tour, Capitol Heights by Candlelight, the Cottage Hill Christmas Tour and the Old House Expo have been very successful in creating interest in old house living. This year, Landmarks Foundation and the Alabama Historic Commission are presenting Cottages! A Tour on Sunday, September 29, from 1:30 p.m. until 5.

The historic neighborhoods of Old Cloverdale, Historic South Hull, Garden District, Cottage Hill, Capitol Heights and Highland Park all have their own character and are diverse socio-economically. All offer a blend of urban and suburban and all have many residential possibilities with varying prices, sizes, architectural styles, and degrees of restoration/renovation. Cottages! A Tour will showcase a variety of cottages — one in each of these historic districts. These smaller houses make great homes for young professionals and downsizing boomers. In fact, they are perfect for anyone who wants to live in a dynamic, exciting, lively neighborhood in a home that has character and personality. Houses on the tour are:

Old Cloverdale — Caldwell-Finn Home, 1201 Felder Avenue

This 1925 stucco house with arched openings and a terrazzo front terrace attracted homeowners, Charlie Caldwell and Scott Finn, who have an on-going connection with Italy which they learned to appreciate in Rome. They have a library well stocked with books on architecture, art, design, literature, and history. The front door opens into the living room and adjacent dining room. The muted color schemes create serenity and a certain calmness. In the four main rooms, the oak floors feature a wide border of mahogany. Charlie and Scott use rooms for multiple purposes and reconfigure living room furniture for winter and summer. The summer bedroom opens onto a screened porch that stretches across the entire rear of the house. The porch opens onto a terraced garden enclosed by a wall, hedge, and gravel autocourt with a pergola that doubles as a carport. The kitchen has terrazzo floor and countertops three inches higher than standard.

Historic South Hull — Paul Home, 3202 South Hull Street

This mid-century modern house is a rare example of the International style for architecturally conservative Montgomery. When it was built in 1947 by Precast Concrete of Birmingham, it was on the very southern edge of Montgomery. The first owners were Audrey and Allen Northington who was an architect working for Sherlock, Smith and Adams. The slab foundation, concrete walls covered with stucco, a slightly sloped concrete roof/ceiling, and a carport are indications that this was something new for Montgomery. Susie Paul has furnished the house with mid-century modern furniture and accessories. Elsewhere in the house, furnishing and accessories are eclectic as well as a large collection of local art all complementing the simplicity of the International style.

Garden District — Brown Home, 339 Cloverdale Road

T. Weatherly Carter, architect of the Governor’s Mansion, and builder Algernon Blair designed and constructed this 1915 Arts and Crafts bungalow. It was built on a low ridge that was once the site of the Clitherall plantation house. David Brown purchased the house in 1990. The interior of the house needed only cosmetic work but the exterior needed a complete redesign. As a landscape designer, David created a low-maintenance, but high impact garden. He installed a pool at the back of the house and surrounded it with plantings, creating a semitropical room. The front porch, high off the crepe myrtle-lined street is broad, deep and private. The front door opens directly into the living room and dining room with paneled columns and bookcases separating the two spaces. The woodwork is stained dark and the fireplaces are pure Arts and Craft style. The house has other original details, from hardware and quarter-sawn pine floors to built-in closets, drawers, and cupboards. The colors throughout provide a neutral background for a huge collection of eclectic furniture and decorative objects.

Cottage Hill — Summerlin Home, 24 Whitman, Street

This original three-room house was attached to the 1892 two-room Cassimus Grocery Store both of which were victims of I-65. The two structures were moved in 1982, the Store to Old Alabama Town and the house to Whitman Street. Todd Summerlin bought the house in 2000 and did most of the work himself. He saved as much of the original fabric as possible, meticulously restoring original weatherboarding, windows, floors, doors, etc. He converted the old kitchen into a bathroom and a porch into the kitchen. He lowered the 14-foot ceilings of the front two rooms to 12 feet and added two bedrooms and a bath in the attic. The house is furnished with eclectic furniture, accessories and local artwork. Todd is able to walk or ride his bicycle to work Downtown.

Capitol Heights — Anderson Home, 10 South Capitol Parkway

Although the exterior of Christy and Rich Anderson’s 1912 bungalow is typical with its wide, deep porch and low-pitched overhanging roof, the interior differs. The Anderson’s interior opens into a central hall that runs the length of the original house. The living room is on the left and the dining room on the right. The original kitchen and butler’s pantry, once behind the dining room, have been converted into a master bedroom with bathroom. The Andersons have converted a 1927 addition at the back of the house into a huge kitchen overlooking the garden. Many original features have survived through the house. They include unusual window sashes and doors, including the original screen door, two pairs of pocket doors, extraordinary mantles with composite relief panels, built in bookcases and cupboards, coffered ceilings, and dark, varnished door and window surrounds. The gardens make creative use of salvaged brick and stone.

Highland Park — Burge Home, 2100 Plum Street

This circa 1910 plum-colored cottage, located on Plum Street, stylistically represents the transition from the Victorian to the bungalow. Although the house had been altered over the years, the original pine flooring, paneled doors, double-hung sash windows, door and window surrounds, and three coal-burning fireplaces survived. She has done most of the renovation work herself—rebuilding the window sashes, raising the ceilings to their original twelve-foot height, building bookcases, hanging wallpaper, laying tile and mosaics, installing a heated floor in the bathroom, even masonry, plumbing and electrical work. A backyard “folly” built of old window sashes shows the homeowner’s creative side. Emily can walk the half a mile to Jackson Hospital where she works as a nurse.

Tickets are $15 and will be sold on the day of the tour beginning at 1:00 at the Capri Theatre at 1045 East Fairview Avenue until 3:00. For more information, call 240-4500 or visit www.oldalabamatown.com.

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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