We are getting ready to begin our next salvage project… one that is practically in our own back yard. Work will begin this week salvaging architectural elements from the historical Luther Hays house in Cullman, Alabama.
The house was built in 1901 by Dr. Luther Hays and his wife Ethel, affectionately called “Dolly”, by her loving husband. Dr. Hays moved to Cullman with his parents in 1878. Upon graduating from the University of Alabama Mobile Medical School, Luther entered the US Army Hospital Corps and served in the Spanish – American War. He then furthered his education at Grant Medical School, returning to Cullman in 1901 to establish his medical practice. Dr. Hays initially set up an office above the old People’s Drug Store, eventually moving it to an upstairs room in his home. When not seeing patients in his home office, Dr. Hays would travel by horseback and treat patients in their own homes.
The Hays house was acquired a few years ago by the Cullman County Historical Society who began renovations in an effort to preserve it. The Historical Society dedicated the house as their new headquarters in November of 2010. A short six months later, the house was severely damaged by the devastating tornados that ravaged downtown Cullman. The F4 tornado that ripped through our community in April of 2011 destroying many homes and businesses, took its toll on the Hays house. The amount of damage done was insurmountable and the cost of restoring the house not financially feasible for the Historical Society. The Society, in an effort to save the house, attempted to sell it, but there were no takers. The house was donated back to the County Commission earlier this year. Sitting on county property, the house must be removed and has been slated for demolition.
This is a lovely old house with many charming features. The house has beautiful wood flooring throughout. It is filled with solid wood doors equipped with brass and porcelain knobs. There are several large newel posts and dark wood spindles from the stairwell that connects the living and dining room. The house has many diamond-paned windows, interior wood trim, and a lovely wrap-around porch, a true Southern tradition.
Southern Accents mission statement is to rescue, restore and protect architectural elements of historical significance. As with every salvage mission, we are often asked, “Why are you tearing down this lovely old house?” It is never our mission to tear down or demolish any historical structure. We only come on the scene after a structure has been scheduled for demolition by the property owner. We are the guys you WANT to see before the bulldozers move in. As we have done with past projects, we will enter the Hays house and remove any and all architectural elements that can be re-purposed and recycled. We view this as a rescue mission. Although the house can not be saved, many elements from the interior and exterior can be saved and given a new life. Preserving a piece of this local history for future generations is a mission that we take seriously.
Written By: Lisa Jones
Photos By: Lisa Jones