Columns and Arches and Moldings … Oh, My!

On Sunday — the annual Old House Expo Day in Midtown Montgomery — I spent four hours in the home at 728 Felder Ave. During the course of the afternoon, 147 people visited the property and the choruses of “Oooh and aaah” were loud and many!

We Southerners (whether by birth or “By the grace of God,” as the bumper sticker reads) love our columns. The more and the taller the better! Is it that they transport us back in time to the ancients? The ornate capitals certainly remind one of a laurel wreath worn crown by an Olympian or a Roman emperor.

Or do they remind us of the romanticism of Tara and Gone With the Wind with its rustling hoop skirts and lovely tea party chapeaus? No matter. That there is a timeless love affair is simply undeniable.

One visitor, Karren Pell from Capitol Heights, put forth the possibility that the magnificent columns marching across the edifice may not even have been crafted for that house and may have come from an older (antebellum perhaps?) structure lost to fire or otherwise. Local sage Mary Ann Neeley agrees with that possibility. After all, our beloved local architect Arthur Joe Grant built his reputation at least in part on his practice of incorporating past relics into new buildings.

Once inside, Expo visitors could not help but notice still more columns and a series of graceful arches that led from the wide center hall into twin parlors and an equally stunning rear hall. David Braly, trained as an architect, observed that the arch theme could be continued with the partial removal of a wall to expand the currently tight kitchen area.

Many who walked through the home were frankly surprised to learn that it was not in fact antebellum but constructed after 1900. The Cloverdale Historic District National Register nomination puts its construction date as c. 1915 and notes “evidence of a second floor balcony no longer extant.” Given the lovely balcony on the front, I assume the missing element once appeared on the rear.

No one seems to have any really “juicy stories” of famous people or events associated with this Greek Revival beauty. But given its grandeur — and history of ownership by very successful professional through the years — I imagine if the walls could talk, they’d tell tales of grand parties across the past 100 years.

And with any luck, a new owner will restore her to deserved pristine condition and she will once again be the site of exciting events to come!

Sandra Nickel has been listing and selling residential real estate for over 30 years, most with an intense focus on Montgomery’s Midtown neighborhoods. Sandra serves on the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, the Cloverdale Business Coalition, Historic Southview, the Volunteer and Information Center, Landmarks Foundation and her own neighborhood Garden District Preservation Association.

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