Stephen Luther make his home off of the beaten path

Published 11:00 pm Friday, December 28, 2012

Stephen Luther found a home that suited his artistic nature and passion for blues music in Henderson, Alabama. Using cedar trees growing in his backyard, Luther fashioned a porch, which follows a long tradition of supporting roofs with tree trunks and limbs.

Stephen Luther was looking for a place to sing the blues and where better than Henderson, Alabama, where the bluegrass grows.

Luther said that, well, it didn’t exactly happen like that but that’s the way it turned out and it turned out perfectly for him.

Luther was actually looking for a place to call home and a place he could make into a home that would be uniquely his.

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For one who is into the arts – painting, woodworking and music, “home” should be a little off the beaten path and in and around folks that would make life interesting – around folks that might be called “characters.”

Not knowing exactly where such a place might be, Luther looked to those who would know– real estate agents.

“The agent found this house for me at Henderson. It was a house that needed a good bit of work,” Luther said. “I liked it right away. Henderson is rather quiet but it can also be quite busy. The house is right on the road but it’s got woods behind it with deer all around. The house was just what I wanted or it will be when I get it all fixed up.”

Luther bought the house in July and made plans to fix it up in a way that would make it uniquely his. Little did Luther know that, in doing so, he would carry on a Henderson tradition.

“The house has about three acres with it and I was out back looking around and I noticed these cedar trees,” Luther said. “The porch roof was being held up with some old lumber and I thought the cedar trees would make good posts. So, I cut the trees and made posts out of them. Cedar doesn’t rot all that much and the wood is real interesting looking. The limbs coming off the trunks make good corners and are also good places to hang things. I’ve got lanterns hanging and they make good porch lights.”

Luther has fashioned porch railings from large cedar limbs and railings help give his house the rustic look that he wants.

The porch is a perfect place to sit and play bluegrass and some country music, old and new.

“I like Hank Sr. and Junior and Kid Rock and I love bluegrass,” Luther said. “Bob Helton was my great uncle and he had a bluegrass band called the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys. Folks around here called him ‘Uncle Bob’ but he really was my uncle Bob. He was a good friend of Hank Sr. and played and recorded some with him.”

Perhaps, Luther got his musical talent and his love of the old-time music from his great uncle but he’s getting a heavy dose of local lore from the “mayor of Henderson” and his good friend, Rex Locklar.

“Rex has been real good to me,” Luther said. “He owns the woods behind me and I’ll ask him if I can cut a cedar and he’ll say to go ahead. He brought me a Boston butt on Christmas and it was the best meat I’ve ever eaten. He likes the work I’m doing on the house.”

Locklar called Luther’s work “a work of art.”

“I like what he’s doing with the house and the posts are like those my daddy, Perry Locklar, had on his old store,” Locklar said. “Lawd, I don’t know how many years ago that was. Me and Faye moved up here in the store we’re in now in 1965 so those old tree trucks have been holding up that storefront for a long time. They are poplar trees. I believe I’m right on that.”

Locklar said the best he can remember, tree trunks were used to hold up porches on stores and houses when folks couldn’t do any better.

So, Luther has, unknowingly, continued a “tree trunk” tradition that was popular around the countryside in the early to mid 1900s.

He is consciously carrying on the music and the art that were a part of those times. He is proudly carrying on a Henderson tradition.