Couple to host front porch singing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Staff Writer

Many people would call living in a house approaching the 100 year mark located in one of the more rural sections of the county anything but luxurious, but for Jerry and Marie Brazwell it is like having a small piece of heaven here on earth and they are seeking to share the treasure with their neighbors.

On Saturday, October 2, the couple are inviting friends (even those they have not met) to participate in an old-fashioned front porch singing featuring six gospel acts, including Jerry's own Workman Quartet.

The house that the couple has called home for the past ten years is the ideal place to bring back the old tradition of a community gathering and sharing in music and conversation. The home was built by Marie's grandparents, Jim and Molly Gardner, in 1902. They lived in the dogtrot-style edifice until 1948 when the building was left to deal with the elements of nature on its own.

Marie moved away from her Georgiana home upon graduating from high school. She moved to Pensacola to continue her education and joined a Christian group as a piano player where she met Jerry.

Over the years of traveling back and forth for music performances, Jerry developed a love for the quiet and peacefulness of southwest Butler County and in 1988 the couple decided they would settle down on the property that was once the stomping grounds of Marie's grandparents, but had since been used as a hay barn.

"We lived in an old raggedly trailer for a long time because the house was in terrible condition," Jerry said. "People would ask us, why don't you bulldoze that house and build a new one?' but I just loved it and wanted to keep the original look of the house."

It took the couple three years to get the home in a livable condition. They worked on a small room in the back of the house first and when it was ready they moved out of the little camper and into the room.

"When they came and pulled that red trailer from our backyard it was one of the happiest days of my life," he said.

But, the couple had a long way to go in refurbishing their home. The knocked out a wall for the kitchen and sealed up the dogtrot-style hall that had once separated the home into two sections.

Although Jerry and Marie wanted to add some more sophisticated home features, like running water, insulation and a modern bathroom, they also wanted to maintain the historical significance by changing as little as possible.

"The inside of the house is a little different due to some of the changes we have made, but the outside still has the exact same look to it," he said.

When it came time to have guests, the Brazwells were encouraged at the feedback they were receiving from their friends. In fact, it was the rustic, old look of the home that brought about the idea for the front porch singing.

"Everybody comes up here and asks us why we don't have a front porch singing and over time we decided to do it. The house and location is perfect because it fits that old-home-place setting. There is something about old houses and places that attract people and make them feel comfortable and peaceful," he said.

Marie said she hopes that everyone comes looking to have a little fun while participating in fellowship with their friends and neighbors.

"We want everyone to enjoy the singing and hope to have a good Christian fellowship," she said. "We want people to be aware that Christ's message can be heard anywhere, whether you are in the city, country or any place else," she said.

The good-time fellowship and singing is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Appearances are expected from Jerry's Workman Quartet, all of whom are from Pensacola except for the host; The Hendersons of Milton, Fla.; A Few Good Men of Pensacola; Charity of Pensacola; Higher Reach from Troy and ventriloquist Marilyn Brown and Woody from Pensacola.

Guests are encouraged to bring a lawn chair with them and possibly bring refreshments to share with the evening guests.

The crowd is expected to be fairly large and the Brazwells have been working in anticipation of their arrival.

"We have put a lot of time into general preparations like cleaning and putting out signs," Jerry said. "This is the first time we have done this, but if everybody comes who say they will, we'll have a great turnout and a lot of fun."