Archive

Posts Tagged ‘piedmont’

Sweet Home, Alabama (Sears Magnolia)

April 26th, 2014 Sears Homes 10 comments

Sometime in 2005, the new owner of the Sears Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama sent me several dozen photos of the house. Recently, I rediscovered the CDs. Those photos reminded me that I also had a 1984 newspaper article about that Magnolia.

Unfortunately, I do not have any record of whose photos these are, so they appear below without attribution. I’m hoping someone reading this might help me figure out who took those pictures!

Below are the photos, and the 1984 article from The Anniston Star.

Piedmont boasts a Sears Catalog Mansion (November 1, 1984)

by Viveca Novak

Piedmont - When the late doctor Fain Webb and his wife filled out the order form Magnolia, the catalog description likened the Magnolia to the “famous residence at Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the poet Longfellow composed his immortal works.”

The Magnolia rolled into Piedmont in 1921 on a box car one day. Accompanying instructions told the dentist and his school-teacher wife how to assemble everythnig into the configuration of a dwelling.

“Everyone in Piedmont thought it was the prettiest house in town,” remembers Piedmont native Louise Golden. “Little did my mother dream that we would ever own the house.”

It was one day in 1964 that Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Woolf, Mrs. Golden’s parents, got a call from the Webb’s daughter who offered to sell them the homestead for the unbelievably low sum of $12,500.

At the time, Mrs. Woolf was 60 and her husband was 80, retired from years in the Inn business that included running the Piedmont Hotel in the late 1920s. With the help of a $20,000 loan from the Small Business Administration, the Woolfs made the necessary adjustments to complete their dream.

On January 1965, the Colonial Inn opened its doors for supper.

Four bedrooms upstairs were rented to help repay the loan, “but they were very careful about who they rented to, ” says Mrs. Golden, who returned to Piedmont to help her parents run the new venture.

The $2 Sunday smorgasboards attracted upwards of 100 people each week.

“We had Miss Alabama and Miss Poultry Queen for our Christmas Parade one year,” recalls Theresa Kaisor, city historian and asst school board superintendent. “We carried them over there to eat dinner.”

The Inn’s reputation spread far and wide and travelers of all kinds made the necessary detours to stop a night in Piedmont.

Two years later, Piedmont was mourning the closing of the inn, following the death of Mrs. Woolf. Though Mrs. Golden was urged to keep the inn open, it was a task she declined.

In 1970, the house underwent another rebirth with its sale - for $19,000 - to Calvin and Patricia Wingo, two history professors at Jacksonville State University who have a penchant for restoring old houses to their original grandeur.

The Wingos tore up the carpeting and refinished the hardwood floors, replaced the roof and wiring, repaired the bases of some of the columns and painted the whole house. Their son was born soon after they moved in.

Two families occupied the house between 1974, when the Wingos sold it, and 1980. It’s more recent history causes residents to shake their heads sadly. Under the ownership of Charles Grissom, from 1980 to this year, the house burned twice, destroying most of the interior on the first floor and the basement.

It has gone unoccupied for many months.

But the new owner, Winford Kines, hopes it will be a dream house once again, despite the fire damage and theft of one of the mantle pieces and an old pedestal sink.

Kines has begun cleaning out the burned basement and the yard in the initial stages of his project. It may take me a few years, but I hope to live in it someday, Kines said. He has already won a community for lifting the house above the status of neighborhood eyesore.

*

My #1 favorite Magnolia story here. It’s well worth the read!

Join us on Facebook!

What is it about Magnolias and fire?

*     *     *

The Sears Magnolia was quite a house (1922 catalog).

The Sears Magnolia was quite a house (1922 catalog).

*

In 2008 I visited the Sears Magnolia in Piedmont. Unfortunately, no one was home.

In 2008 I visited the Sears Magnolia in Piedmont. Unfortunately, no one was home.

*

I helped myself to a few good photos while I was in the neighborhood.

I helped myself to a few good photos while I was in the neighborhood.

*

This Magnolia

And walked around a bit.

*

And went up on the front porch.

And went up on the front porch.

*

Youll notice the dormer on this house is quite different than the dormer on the other Magnolias.

You'll notice the dormer on this house is quite different than the dormer on the other Magnolias. I've no idea how that came to be. It appears that the house has its original siding, so we can't blame this on the siding salesmen.

*

Some features of the house

Some features of the house remain intact, such as these oak columns in front of the living room fireplace. The inglenook window and built-in bench are missing.

*

Did you read the whole article before scrolling down to look at the photos? If so, youd know that someone broke into the house and stole a fireplace mantle. Im guessing this is the mantle.

Did you read the whole article before scrolling down to look at the photos? If so, you'd know that someone broke into the house and stole a fireplace mantle. I'm guessing this is the scene of the crime. However, what they're missing in mantles, they make up for in vacuum cleaners.

*

Bear

Incredibly, the windows and trim on the sunporch are all still original. Then again, all of these photos were snapped more than nine years ago. The antique oak filing cabinets are a nice touch, too, but they obstruct the windows a bit.

*

Another view of the sunporch windows.

Another view of the sunporch windows.

*

living room

This appears to be the dining room, in use as a parlor or den.

*

living room also

From the dining room, looking into the living room.

*

Looking

Remember reading about that fire? Apparently the staircase took a hit.

*

A really bad hit.

A really bad hit.

*

Definitely

The balustrade in the Magnolia was quite beautiful but sadly, in the Piedmont Magnolia, it's all gone. Here, it's been replaced them with 2x4s (gasp) and a planter stand (eek).

*

nebraska up

As a contrast, here's a picture of a Magnolia in Nebraska that is no longer with us. You can see that it had a beautiful balustrade. This house was razed about the same time the newspaper article above was written - mid 1980s. Photo is courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society and may not be used or reproduced without written permission.

*

Second floor sunporch.

It's nice to see the original doors are in place, even if the hardware didn't survive. This is the second floor bedroom (master bedroom).

*

Side

It's incredible that these original paneled newel posts survive (with balls on top), and yet the house has obviously been through some hard times. I know that the house sold recently. Perhaps now it will be restored.

*

My #1 favorite Magnolia story here. It’s well worth the read!

What is it about Magnolias and restaurants? Read about another Magnolia restaurant here.

What is it about Magnolias and fire?

*      *      *

Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Our Trip to the Black Hills” by Addie Hoyt Fargo (1899)

February 27th, 2012 Sears Homes 4 comments

In one of Addie’s obituaries, she was described as “a gifted woman possessing…a fine literary ability.”

As a writer, I longed to hear Addie’s “voice.” The written word can provide so much insight into a writer’s soul. I yearned to know Addie better. I wanted to read her words, and have a keyhole peek into her soul.

And then in early February, while I was reading my way through 10 years of the Lake Mills Leader, I found an essay written by Addie Hoyt Fargo. In May of 1899, Addie and Enoch had taken a one-week train trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Below is her account of that trip, written in her own words.

*   *   *

Our Trip to the Black Hills

By Mrs. Enoch J. Fargo

Our excursion party comprising parties of the Wisconsin Press Association with their wives and daughters, numbering 70 in all, left Chicago Thursday at 6:00 pm, May 25th over the North-Western, bound for the Black  Hills.

We occupied two handsome Wagoneer sleepers and commenced to have a jolly good time from the very beginning.

M. P. Rindlaub, of Platteville, President and O. F. Roessler, of Jefferson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Press Association directed the excursion, while the genial James Gibson of Madison, district passenger agent of the N. W., assumed complete charge of our party from Chicago to Omaha. At Clinton, Iowa he invited us to step out upon the platform to see the largest railroad locomotive in the United States.

Some of us looked at the wrong locomotive, but the most of us saw a 122-ton affair, almost as big as a church.

Omaha was reached at 9:30 the next morning, where we found cars waiting for us, provided by Omaha’s Street Railway Co., which took us to the Millard Hotel for breakfast, and after breakfast, took us around the city and, and out to the Exposition grounds.

The entire forenoon was taken up with the trip through the grounds and buildings. Talk about a miniature World’s Fair! It is ever so much more than that, and anyone who goes there thinking he is to see something small, will be much disappointed.

The Greater American Exposition will open again in July and as nearly all of the open space has been taken, it promises to be as great a success as last year. There will be a Cuban village, 180 Cubans will arrive in Omaha this week, a Hawaiian village, and 20 families of the Philippines.

This will be a greater attraction than any seen at the Exposition last year.

After our return we were given a banquet at the Paxton Hotel by the officers of the Capital Exposition. The luncheon was preceded by the singing of “America.” Dr. Miller, president of the Greater American Exposition, welcomed the party to Omaha. He invited us to take note as we went like birds of passage through the city what Omaha is. The seat of empire, he declared, had been transferred from the East to Mississippi Valley. It was politically the dominant position of the country. He called our attention to the marvelous progress made by the West, of which we saw but the border, as exemplified last summer in the Trans-Mississippi Exposition.

Since that time, though we might regret the situation forced upon us, we could not help but look up on the situation as it is. An opportunity to know the new possessions in all the phases of their life is to be given. Editor Wilder, of Madison, was called upon to respond.

Representing the state, he said, which had given Vilas, Spooner, Fairchild and a long list of other statesmen, he acknowledged the cordial welcome. These were a band of the editors, their wives and children, and perhaps their sweethearts, seeking to learn the West, but the West was hard to find.

Here we found broad avenues, excelling the devious and narrow streets of eastern cities. We had found the spices of the exposition and realize the half had never been told.

Henceforth the word “Omaha,” would be a watchword with us and we would go to our homes with it fragrant in our memory.

The program was necessarily a brief one because of the early departure of our party for Hot Springs. Three o’clock found us saying good bye to Omaha and our Mr. Gibson, and passenger agent J. H. Gable of the F. E. & M. V., took charge of our party from Omaha to the Black Hills and back, and I assure you he looked after the comfort of us all in the usual hospitable style of the N. W. system.

From Omaha we came over the F. E. and MV, stopping at Rome Millers Eating House at Norfolk for supper, and it may be incidentally mentioned that G. H. Rodgers, the manager of that institution provided us with an excellent meal.

Northern Nebraska is all a rolling prairie; the fields are so green and the horses and cattle look well cared for, but when we got into Dakota, the scene changes.  Just before reaching the hills we pass through some of the worst country imaginable, a rocky clay soil, here and there, a lump of pine trees, some buffalo grass, a muddy stream or two and that is all.

This part of Dakota is called the Bad Lands and it’s pretty bad too, though we were told we hadn’t seen the worst of it. From here we begin to go up higher and higher and we see the black hills in the distance and really black they look too. Mr. Gable tells us the reason for this is because the mountains are covered in pine trees, and approached from a distance, this black mass of pine trees rises up against the horizon giving it the appearance and name of Black Hills.

At a previous time they were the home of various Indian tribes and they also constituted the winter shelter of the winter buffalo herds.

We arrive at the foot of Battle Mountain and here we are at Hot Springs, ready for breakfast too, I assure you. We went to the Evans Hotel for breakfast, which is just across the street from the station. This is one of the finest hotels in the West, commodious and cheerful. After breakfast, carriages were waiting to take us to Wind Cave which is 12 miles from Hot Springs, over pine-clad hills and through valleys. Wind Cave in all probability represents an extinct geyser and outrivals the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, in extent, has been explored in different directions to a distance of 91 miles and so far have found 2,100 chambers, with queer and beautiful formations in each.

There are numerous chambers uniquely named on account of some similarly or appropriate circumstance, Post Office, Theater, Cathedral, Garden of Eden, Fair Ground, etc. We explored six miles of this cave and came out after five hours, glad to stop and partake of the lunch the proprietor of the cave had waiting for us.

After we were driven back to Hot Springs, a few of us went to the Plunge, near the Evans Hotel. A handsome building enclosing the pool is, 75 x 25 feet complete in every appointment. The Plunge is the chief attraction of this popular resort and it is simply irresistible.

Myriads of tiny springs bubbling up from the pebbly bottom supply 100,000 gallons of water per hour. It is from five to nine feet in depth and so clear that the smallest object can be seen at the extreme depth. The water is highly charged with electric and magnetic properties which is highly beneficial for rheumatism.

The temperature of the water is 96 degrees years round, and one plunge almost repaid us for the long trip to Hot Springs. After the plunge we had supper, and then a dance at the “Evans” given us by the citizens of Hot Springs.

Sunday, some of our party went to church, some to the Plunge, and some to climb over the mountains; however, the day was too short and Monday found us upon our way to Deadwood, over the Elkhorn. We had breakfast at Buffalo Gap and got into Deadwood for dinner at the Ballock Hotel. The afternoon was occupied by an inspection of Deadwood until four o’clock when we left over the Elkhorn Narrow Gauge Road for a ride up Bald Mountain, visiting Terry and passing over the summit, which is 8,000 feet above sea level, and from which so fine a view is afforded of the outlying prairies. The atmosphere was favorable so the view could not have been better.

We returned to the Ballock for supper, and in the evening, a dance was given us at the Olympic parlors by the Olympic Club. Right here I might mention the fact that Harry Park, who is a commercial traveler in that section was at the hotel when we returned from Bald Mountain, so we took him with us to the Olympic Dance. Tuesday, Memorial Day, we visited Lead City, the highest city in the hills.

The forenoon was spent in seeing the Homestake Mining Plant, the largest gold mine in the world. We were unable to explore the mine, which is a privilege rarely granted because of danger of serious accident, but we inspected the stamp mills and learned how gold is extracted from quartz by the crushing and quicksilver processes. Rain kept us indoors in the afternoon, so we spent the time in the library building, recently given to Lead by Mrs. Hurst, of California.

At 5 o’clock we left Lead for Piedmont, through the most picturesque country I have ever seen, over hills and mountains through gulches and canyons, the scene changes every moment.

At Piedmont, we resumed our own cars and preceded homeward. We had breakfast at Long Pine, dinner at Norfolk, supper at Missouri Valley and a drive around the city. Arrived in Chicago, Thursday morning, June 1st after having spent as jolly and delightful a week as one could possibly wish.

Mrs. Enoch J. Fargo

*   *   *

Addie

Addie wrote the essay above in 1899. She was 28 years old at the time. She's shown here in her wedding gown, in 1896 (age 24).

*

Addie was a beautiful young woman, and talented too. I cant help but wonder how many unwritten books Addie had germinating in her soul. According to A History of Lake Mills (published 1983) Addie was murdered by her husband in 1901. She was 29 years old.

Addie was a beautiful young woman, and talented too. I can't help but wonder how many unwritten books Addie had germinating in her soul.

*

Another picture of Addie on her wedding day.

Another picture of Addie on her wedding day. Addie was no retiring wall flower. She was a strong, independent woman with a remarkable intellect and a keen mind. She was the granddaughter of the Hawleys and the Hoyts, two "first families" of Jefferson County.

*

In 1889, Addie wrote her high school essay on the inequality of work opportunities offered to young women.

In 1889, Addie wrote her high school essay on the inequality of work opportunities offered to young women. It was a bold piece for such a young woman to write.

*

While reading through the old Lake Mills Leader newspaper, I was thrilled to find this travelogue, detailing Addies trip to the Black Hills. It was written in June 1899.

While reading through the old Lake Mills Leader newspaper, I was thrilled to find this travelogue, detailing Addie's trip to the Black Hills. It was written in June 1899.

*

Addie

In 1993, when I interviewed for my first job as a newspaper reporter, the old ink-stained wretch of an editor asked me, "Why do you want to be a writer?" I answered, "Because I would love to see my name on the byline." He laughed out loud and said, "Yeah, I love that part, too." I got the job. I'm sure it was a thrill for Addie to see her name on the byline.

*

In this piece, she talks about The Evans Hotel and The Plunge. This line drawing was shown with the article.

In this piece, she talks about The Evans Hotel and "The Plunge." This line drawing was shown with the article.

*

The Plunge was a hot springs that had been enclosed. It was believed that the hot springs had salutary benefits for all manner of afflictions.

"The Plunge" was a hot springs that had been enclosed. It was believed that the hot springs had salutary benefits for all manner of afflictions.

*

Addie and E. J. stayed at the Evans Hotel.

Addie and E. J. stayed at the Evans Hotel.

*

*   *   *

Sears Homes in Alabama

September 10th, 2010 Sears Homes 7 comments

On a prior post (Sears Magnolia in Piedmont, Alabama), I talked about photographing a Sears Magnolia in Piedmont. What I did not talk about was the trip. I traveled from Norfolk, Virginia to Atlanta, Georgia and met up with my friend Nancy (who lives in Acworth), and then we rode together to Piedmont to photograph this house. I love Sears Homes. I love looking at them and I love photographing them and I love posting their portraits at my website.

That being said, I was mighty disappointed that I didn’t find any more Sears Homes between here and Atlanta. I’ve been searching for Sears Homes for a long, long time and I like to think I’m pretty good at this but this trip has not yielded many “finds.”

And then today, I found a note in my inbox from a nice fellow in Mobile (Alabama) telling me about an ecnclave of purported Sears Homes in Mobile. If anyone has any more information about these houses, I’d love to hear about it. I’d love to see some photos of these houses. It’s been my experience that 95% of the time, these “neighborhoods” of Sears Homes are not Sears Homes or even kit homes from another company. They’re usually wild goose chases.

Please - someone from Mobile - write to me (thorntonrose@hotmail.com) and prove me wrong.

One of the best finds in Alabama: A sunflower field!

Sunflowers in Alabama

Sunflowers in Alabama

More sunflowers

More sunflowers