2005 Spring Pilgrimage to feature seven Demopolis homes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2005

The arrival of spring means a lot of different things–flowers, baseball, thunderstorm warnings, an hour of lost sleep–but for residents of Marengo County, perhaps the best thing this spring brings is another renewal of a Demopolis springtime tradition.

This Saturday and Sunday, the Marengo County Historical Society will offer their 2005 Spring Pilgrimage, a city-wide tour of some of the finest architecture and unique homes Demopolis has to offer.

“We’ve been holding the Pilgrimage since 1967,” says the Historical Society’s Kirk Brooker. “We have it every other year, and we’re very excited about this year’s tour.”

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He has reason to be. The 2005 Pilgrimage will feature seven Demopolis residences, which cover a surprisingly wide variety of architectural styles and eras.

The tour will, for instance, include Demopolis’s19th-century standbys Gaineswood and Bluff Hall. But Pilgrims will also get a look at the loft apartment belonging to Mr. And Mrs. Mike Marshall, located in the Allan-Eppes building downtown. Another highlight will be the Sherrod residence, a home with a 21st-century design and early 20th century materials, overlooking the Tombigbee River.

“The loft apartment will be our first downtown residence,” Brooker said. “We want to show people some of the possibilities of downtown living…we asked Mr. [Ben] Sherrod if we could include his home because so many of the materials used are from historic structures. It’s very unique. It shows what could be done with these kinds of materials.”

Those materials, Sherrod explained in a tour of the home Tuesday, have come from a wide variety of sources.

“The home will be two years old in October, but some of the material is over 100 years old,” he said. “The columns in front came off a bank in Aliceville. They were given to me by a lady named Ms. Breen 30 years ago. They weigh 1500 to 2000 pounds each, and I’ve been lugging them around ever since.”

The columns are only the beginning. The Sherrod residence includes brickwork, doors, flooring, and other features from a former turn-of-the-century Uniontown home; Pennsylvania slate stepping stones from New Orleans’s Bourbon Street; plenty of refinished period-era furniture; and increasingly rare Alabama white marble used in tabletops both inside and outside the home.

For those looking to enjoy period architecture along with their period material, the Pilgrimage will also feature, for the first time, South Main Avenue’s Lyon Hall. Lyon Hall is, according to a Historical Society Pilgrimage brochure, “an antebellum house which wears the patina of time.”

“We’re excited that Lyon Hall will be on the tour,” Brooker said, noting that the house dates to the early 1850s. “The Historical Society owns the property, and we’ve finally been able to open up the ground floor. We’re working on getting the second floor preserved and opening it in the future.”

Another first-time entry on the Pilgrimage itinerary is another South Main Avenue property, the Braswell-Ogden home.

“[The owners] are new to Demopolis and they’ve done some great things with the house,” Brooker says. “It’ll be a real treat.”

The seventh home on the tour (besides Gaineswood, Bluff Hall, Allen-Eppes, Sherrod, Lyon Hall, and Braswell-Ogden) is Laird Cottage, located at 311 North Walnut Avenue.

The Pilgrimage will be held from 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $15.00 per person and may be purchased from Bluff Hall each day of the event, or by dialing (334) 289-9644. Despite the home’s necessary elevation from the ground (as it fronts the river), the Sherrod residence offers access via elevator for those unable to climb a staircase.

“We certainly want to thank all the homeowners,” Brooker said. “It means a lot. We couldn’t have a Pilgrimage without them. We certainly appreciate and thank our sponsors as well.”

The 2005 Spring Pilgrimage is sponsored by BankTrust of Demopolis, Collins Communications, Flowers by Maison de Briques, the Green Leaf, the Mustard Seed, Perfect Touch of Demopolis, and the Red Barn.