A Good Cause, A Good Party, a Good Change

By on 30 November, 2016 in Fun, Holidays, Karren Pell with 0 Comments

xmasAh yes, more change. This year the Capitol Heights Neighborhood is not offering its traditional Christmas Tour of Homes. This year will feature a gala and a tour of just one home. But what a home it is! It is a famous home, one of Capitol Height’s most lovely, and recently in the news.

First, let’s review a brief history of the Capitol Heights historic neighborhood. One of Montgomery’s first suburbs, Capitol Heights is named for its location above the riverside downtown area. In 1904 the Capitol Heights Development Company bought the area now known as South Capitol Parkway, and the adjoining 200 acre Vickers Plantation, and promoted lots and homes for the Capitol Heights neighborhood. During the neighborhood’s early development in 1908, promoters advertised homey bungalows and spacious arts and crafts houses, healthy breezes, and magnificent views. Although the neighborhood development began in the early 1900s, a lot of the homes were built in the 1920s. In 2016 Capitol Heights remains a popular location due to convenience, comfort, and livability. The neighborhood’s main street, Madison Avenue, is considered the entryway to the renovation of the downtown area.

Now let’s review a bit of history of the home featured for the gala and the tour. The two-story house at 1802 Madison Avenue was built circa 1902 – certainly one of the earliest homes in Capitol Heights. Its owners and builders, the Perry family, resided in the home for at least two generations. Dr. John Barr Pugh’s research states that the home’s most notable former resident was Dr. Henry Gaither Perry. Dr. Perry was Chief Registrar for the Alabama State Health Department. He was active in the documentation of the extent of endemic problems of hook worms, pellagra (a vitamin deficiency), and tuberculosis that plagued Alabama in the early 20th century. At some point, probably during World War II, the house was divided into apartments. In the last decade, the house has been a single family residence. A house of this age requires renovation and maintenance. As time went on, the residents were not able to maintain the house or grounds; the house began to deteriorate, and the lot became overgrown.

The home was facing demolition when a group of neighbors came together and formed an LLC to save the house. The project, “Save 1802,” was not only supported by the neighbors making the initial effort, but also by Landmarks Foundation, the City of Montgomery, and The Alabama Trust for Historical Preservation. The group spent a couple of Saturdays clearing the lot and emptying the house of debris. Local news media ran several articles on the project. One ended with this quote: “One day, one day, a family will turn the key in the big Victorian door and make 1802 their home and Capitol Heights will have a new neighbor, a great old house, and a dream come true.” Well, that dream did come true. While collecting estimates on a new roof, the house attracted a buyer. The buyer finished the renovation and then sold the house to our new neighbors, Theo Pinson and Katie Reifenberg.

So, that brings us up to the present. On Saturday, December 10, the Perry Home at 1802 Madison Avenue will host both a tour and a gala. The theme is “Celebrate the Season in the Style of the 1920s.” Besides being just downright fun, the 1920s were chosen as a time many homes were being built in Capitol Heights. The tour goes from 1-4. The tickets are $10 and can be bought at the house on the day of the tour. All proceeds from the tour go to benefit the Brentwood Children’s Home. The gala will be after the tour, from 7 p.m. until 10. Guest are encouraged to sip champagne and cocktails, snack on delicious delights of the season, and dance to the hot jazz of the “Lo-Fi Loungers.” Sound like a good time or what? 1920s dress is encouraged, but not required. To reduce traffic, parking hassles, and long walks in party attire to the house, guests may park at Paterson Field and enjoy a complimentary shuttle to the gala. Tickets are $30 for a single ticket and $50 for a couple. Text 334-868-118 or contact the Capitol Heights Civic Association through their Facebook page.

So that’s not so bad a change is it? A tour of a beautiful home with proceeds going to a deserving cause, and a great party with friends and neighbors. I bet a lot of us will be happy thinking of our dream come true – 1802 saved, renovated and its beautiful residents opening their homes and hearts for both the Brentwood Children’s Home and the Capitol Heights Civic Association.

Karren Pell is a writer, teacher, and performer who lives with her husband, Tim Henderson, and an assortment of cats and dogs in Capitol Heights. She is the author of three books. Her musical compositions range from commercial songs to theatrical works, with five musical adaptations to her credit.

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