Hundreds tour historic homes during pilgrimage

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004

Despite Saturday’s gray skies that turned into a cool, wet drizzle on Sunday, folks from far and near armed themselves with umbrellas and trekked to the Camellia City. They came to enjoy a weekend filled with outstanding southern architecture, artwork, food, flowers and down-home hospitality.

They came…and loved it

On Saturday, the Alabama Historical Association’s (AHA) Annual Fall Pilgrimage returned to Greenville for the first time in 32 years, visiting six of the city’s loveliest and most historic homes.

Email newsletter signup

Members of the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society (BCHGS), to whom this year’s AHA pilgrimage was dedicated, deemed the pilgrimage an unqualified success.

&uot;Apparently it was the best turnout they have had for an AHA Pilgrimage in any city they’ve visited for years – so we were delighted to hear that,&uot; said BCHGS President Barbara Middleton.

Local event co-chair Anne Feathers said some 260 people registered for the meeting and tour on Saturday morning at the Ritz Theatre, confirming it was &uot;a record attendance&uot; for the annual event in recent years.

&uot;People were so impressed with the loveliness of our town – and they were simply amazed we were able to hold such a beautiful pilgrimage so soon after the ravages of Ivan,&uot; Feathers said.

The Greenville Area Fine Arts League (GAFAL) members who exhibited in the show and sale at Whitney Bank on Saturday were equally impressed with the response to their efforts.

GAFAL Treasurer Shirley Roberson, a noted camellia artist, was thrilled with the huge turnout on Saturday.

&uot;I got there before nine a.m. and people were coming in all day…we had to stay open past our official closing time at four because they were still coming through the doors.

All our exhibitors were very pleased,&uot; said Roberson.

Front porch hospitality

The weekend kicked off to a fine start for &uot;early bird&uot; attendees on Friday evening with a reception at Bill and Magoo Hamilton’s charming gingerbread-trimmed Cedar Street Victorian.

&uot;Our guests thoroughly enjoyed the lovely setting. The weather was nice enough to sit out on the porch, under the arbor and out in the garden…and the party fare provided by our Main Street ‘girls’, Mary Ann Hamilton, Jo Weitman and Director Nancy Idland was delicious and beautifully presented – as always,&uot; Feathers commented.

Welcome to our town

During Saturday morning’s meeting, held in the city’s Art Deco &uot;jewel box&uot;, the Ritz, visitors were greeted on behalf of the city by Mayor Dexter McLendon, while Barbara Middleton extended a warm welcome on behalf of the BCHGS.

BCHGS member Herbert Morton presented an &uot;excellent&uot; talk about the history of the county, one that Feathers said professional historians in the audience were just as complimentary of as those &uot;ordinary history buffs&uot; in attendance.

&uot;I’m not used to having so many people want a copy of my speeches…this is very gratifying,&uot; Morton later commented.

Representative Charles Newton of District 90, a member of the Alabama Historical Association, was also honored that morning with a special resolution by the AHA commending and thanking the Greenville politician for his &uot;active interest in preserving, protecting and appreciating history in our state.&uot;

&uot;We are so appreciative we have someone in state government right here in our town who is truly supportive of our efforts to preserve our local and state history,&uot; said BCHGS member Nonnie Hardin.

More rave reviews

A luncheon held at the First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center, catered by Main Street’s Nancy Idland, Jill Stallworth and a crew of volunteers, won &uot;rave reviews&uot; from more than 160 folks in attendance for the meal, said Feathers.

&uot;It was just a wonderful day…the homes were all so lovely,&uot; commented BCHGS member Fern Nix, a sentiment echoed by new member Linda Daniel.

Annie Crenshaw, vice-president of the BCHGS, said both out-of-town guests and some of the newest Korean families to arrive in town had a &uot;fantastic time&uot; enjoying the afternoon tour of homes.

&uot;I was so impressed with how these Korean ladies, who had been in our country only a short time, had made the effort to learn about southern architecture. They knew details about what they were seeing that just amazed me,&uot; Crenshaw said, adding, &uot;[The Koreans] also were amazed to see how much of our interior design had an Asian influence – rugs, vases, laps, paintings.&uot;

Anne Feathers, who co-chaired the event with husband John, commented on the tremendous number of compliments given to the tour homes and their hosts and hostesses by AHA members.

&uot;They loved the antiques and the historic architecture we have here…and all the homes looked spectacular with their gorgeous flower arrangements,&uot; said Feathers.

An ‘A’ for effort

It would seem the Camellia City gets an &uot;A&uot; for its efforts last weekend.

&uot;Everybody had a good time here. I think the biggest story on the AHA Annual Fall Pilgrimage is that all our visitors think Greenville is the most wonderful place in the world! Many, many people told me how nice, friendly and hospitable the people were… and what a great and lovely town we have,&uot; Feathers said.

Anne and John Feathers sing the praises of all those who helped make the event a success on a local level.

&uot;The pilgrimage is hosted by the AHA, but it can only do it each year with the participation of many volunteers in the local communities…the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society, Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Main Street, the arts council and art league and others, all these people worked hard together to make this a success,&uot; emphasized Anne Feathers, adding, &uot;Greenville pulled together and we can all be proud of this city and its people.&uot;