Turn a day trip into a pilgrimage

Published 11:32 am Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Eufaula’s annual Pilgrimage will take place March 31 through April 2. For tickets or more information, visit https://www.eufaulapilgrimage.com.

Eufaula, in southeast Alabama, boasts more than 700 structures listed on the National Historic Register. The city’s main street, Eufaula Avenue, lined with dogwood, magnolias and oaks, is flanked by antebellum mansions that “rise like ornate wedding cakes,” as described by Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, author of “The Best of Alabama.”

The city’s Shorter Mansion played a key role in the development of Eufaula’s annual Pilgrimage. The Mansion began as a more humble home built in 1884, by Eli Sims Shorter II (1858 – 1908) and his wife Wileyna Lamar (1861 – 1927) of Macon, Georgia. An extensive renovation, began in 1901 and lasting through 1906, transformed it into the outstanding Greek Revival Mansion it is today, enabling it to be listed on the National Register. Eli and Wileyna had three children and were well respected in the community.

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The Mansion was a social center for the small town. After Eli’s death, just two years after the renovation, Wileyna continued living there until 1927, when the home was passed to daughter Fannie S. Upshaw. The home was passed to her daughter, Wileyna S. Kennedy, in 1959. Because of health reasons, Wileyna’s family moved away from Eufaula and the Mansion suffered neglect.

In 1965, Wileyna put the home up for public auction. A group of civic-minded citizens organized the Eufaula Heritage Association and were able to buy the Mansion at this auction for $33,000. A state grant of $75,000 was awarded the Heritage Association to honor six governors of the State of Alabama from Barbour County. This grant was used for the purchasing of antique furnishings for the Mansion and making it a house museum and cultural center open to the public. The home was refurnished by a decorator and donations. Plans were soon in place for an annual Pilgrimage tour of other historic homes in Eufaula to offset the cost of maintaining the house and to have the resources necessary to pursue an active preservation effort.

The first Eufaula Pilgrimage was held April 11 – 17, 1966. David Kennedy, great grandson of the builder, continues to be involved with the Mansion, having shared memorabilia and memories that add to the overall history of this great place, home to many weddings, receptions, teas, and other special occasions.

Shorter Mansion – Day Tour 340 North Eufaula Ave. – Completed in 1906, The Shorter Mansion was built by Eli Sims Shorter and Wileyna Lamar of Macon. Wileyna was the heiress to SSS Tonic fortune and Eli was cotton broker. It is an excellent example to Neoclassical Revival Architecture. The home was purchased by the Eufaula Heritage Association in 1965 at auction for $33,000. The Shorter Mansion is listed on the National Historic register.

Hawkins-Chandler – Day Tour –
1009 Springhill Road.
Hawkins-Chandler was built in the 1870’s. The country home is a stately but ornate balance of Italianate style and farmhouse with function. The home was purchased in 2020 by the Chandlers and they began an extensive renovation. The owners, who were from the south, felt like they were transported back to their grandparents’ generation, when time was marked by seasons and families lived in harmony. This is the first time this home has been on the Pilgrimage.

The Big House – Day Tour – 720 North Eufaula Avenue. This 5,600 square foot home sits on almost two acres. Nicknamed “The Big House”, it dates back to the 1850’s and is a Greek Revival with Doric columns across the front that support a classic entablature- a popular architectural preference during that time. Since the construction began in 1857, prior to the civil war, it is officially classified as antebellum. Progress was interrupted briefly by the war, but was completed in 1863.

Thornton-Rudderman-Gulledge – Day Tour – 312 North Randolph. This exquisite home was built by the first mayor of Eufaula in 1845 with all pegs and no nails. The timber used to construct the home was from Mary Shorter’s land on the river. It was a gift from Dr. William H. Thorton to Mary Butler Shorter. The interior of the home is virtually unchanged. The cathedral doors in the parlor were imported from England. The present owner was raised in this home and has lived there since 1943.

Fendall Hall – Day Tour – 917 West Barbour Street. This impressive Italianate country villa style home was built in 1860 by Edward B, and Ann Fendall Beall Young. The home has served as a home for 5 generations. Fendall Hall is now a historic site of the Alabama Historic Commission. It has 3 rooms of the finest Victorian-era murals as any house in America. The black & white Italian marble floors are original and still in the home.

Bray-Bennett – Day Tour – 413 North Eufaula Avenue. Nathan Bray, descendant of a Revolutionary war hero, built this Greek-Revival style home in 1854. It was known as the “best constructed dwelling in town.” Original 13” x 22” windowpanes, heavy hand-hewn sills and the original brick cook house make this home a treasure.

Martin-Turner- “A Work in Progress” – Day Tour – 230 North Eufaula Avenue. This home was built in 1879 by Mr. John O. Martin, one of Eufaula’s earliest settlers. It was built along French lines and planned by the same architect who designed the Laney-Marshall home. After the death of Mr. and Mrs. Martin, the house was inherited by their daughter., Mrs. E.C. Bullock. It was later owned by Annie M. Ballowe and Robert Harris. The home has needed renovation for a good while and is now being completely remodeled by Mr. Lee Turner.

Old Pecan Factory – Day Tour – 317 North Orange Avenue. The Old Pecan Factory is built on the remnants of an antebellum structure, the business opened in 1897, and much of the original machinery remains. Processing nuts for 70 plus years, Superior Pecans decided to move in the heart of downtown Eufaula on Broad Street. This move allowed them to serve as a gift shop, nut seller and a gourmet coffee/ice cream shop. Old Pecan Factory remains and is used primarily for art workshops and can be rented as a venue for small parties and meetings.

The Eufaula House on Barbour – Day Tour – 333 West Barbour Street. Built in 1864, the Eufaula house serves as a bed and breakfast for visitors to the community. The home has 5 bedrooms with 3 of those bedrooms used as suites. It is the newest bed and breakfast in Eufaula where classic southern charm meets contemporary comfort and lodging.

Shorter-Moore Home – Day Tour – 311 North Eufaula. The Shorter-Moore home is an English Tudor Revival on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1925 by Eli Sims Shorter, the son of the Shorter Mansion’s builder, Eli Shorter. The house is asymmetrical in form with a steep pitched roof with cross gables and tall, narrow windows. Other features include tiny casement windows flanking the front entry and the arched, paneled front door. Eli’s widow, Orline O’Daniel Shorter, lived here until her death in 1946.

Rhodes-Winkleblack – Candlelight Tour – 619 North Randolph Avenue. Built in 1853 by Chauncey and Elizabeth Rhodes. The Rhodes moved in to the house in 1854. Mrs. Elizabeth Rhodes kept a handwritten diary while living in the house. This diary has been published and is for sale at the Shorter Mansion. After a fire in 1919 the porch was replaced with a craftsman style stoop porch. The current owners restored the wraparound porch in 2006 to match the original. Lithographs from the 1870’s were used as a guide.

Petry-Honan – Candlelight Tour – 127 Cherry Street. Built in 1868 by Dozier Thornton and purchased by William Petry, the two-story wood construction Gothic Revival structure still has the original kitchen attached to the house by a breezeway. All volunteers will be in period costume.

Fendall Hall – Candlelight Tour – 917 West Barbour Street. This Italianate home was built in 1860 and served as a home for five generations. The house is now a historic site of Alabama Historic Commission. It has three rooms of the finest Victorian-era murals as any house in America. Candlelight touring features a Pilgrimage dinner skit.

LeGrande-Carter-Bouchard – Candlelight Tour – 438 North Randolph Avenue. LeGrand-Carter-Bouchard Home was built in 1885. This incredible corner lot home was originally built by A.L. LeGrand as a one-story home and is working class Victorian home. It still has the heart pine floors, plaster walls and the original pocket doors.

Bray-Garrison-Hudson – Candlelight Tour – 223 North Randolph Avenue. Built between 1885 and 1890, the home is of folk Victorian style. It is a rectangular two-story home with plain weatherboard siding. The home boasts the original plaster ceilings and walls, heart pine floors and a wide welcoming front porch with the original swing.