Huntsville Pilgrimage Association is sponsoring its annual Historic Homes Tour and Cemetery Stroll the weekend of May 2 and May 3. Proceeds from the tour and stroll are used to restore the grounds and grave markers in the historic sections Maple Hill Cemetery. Since its inception, the Pilgrimage Association has donated more than $195,000 towards this purpose.
Six historic homes will be open from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 2. Five of the homes are in Huntsville's historic preservation districts and one is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Three gardens in the historic districts will be open. In addition, St. Mary of the Visitation Church, also listed on the National Register, will be open from noon until 4:00 p.m. with a free organ recital being presented by Dr. Rolf J. Goebel at 2:00.
The homes which will be opened include the UAHuntsville Lowe House at 210 Williams Street. Donated to UAHuntsville by Jane Knight Lowe, it is now the home of UAHuntsville President Dr. David Williams and Mrs. Williams. This imposing Chateauesque style home features stained glass and extensive original woodwork. The expansive grounds will also be opened.
George Steele designed the Federal style Yeatman-Sapp home at 528 Adams Street. Extensive restorations have enabled present owners, Mr. & Mrs. Gene Sapp, to enjoy this 1826 home. The Sapps have lovingly furnished their home with period furnishings.
Located at 415 Eustis Avenue, the circa 1900-1902 Bradley-Walker home was once divided into apartments. Dr. and Mrs. Edward Walker painstakingly returned their home to a single family dwelling. The Dutch-inspired Colonial Revival home features a front gambrel roof.
Dr. and Mrs. William Alison recently finished a major renovation of their 1889 Queen Anne Victorian home which included a new kitchen, master bedroom and bath, screened porch, wine cellar and upstairs play area for their four children. Their home is located at 424 Randolph Avenue.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Lowry-Tippett home is located at 1205 Kildare Street. Built in 1809, the home survived the 33rd Ohio regiment being camped across from the property during the Civil War. After falling into decline through the years, the home was restored by Mr. and Mrs. Louis Tippett with the help of the late architect Mr. Harvie Jones. Visitors will enjoy strolling throughout the shaded side and back gardens.
Built as a rental property by Huntsville's undertaker, the Wade-Coleman home now features a skillful blending of the old with the new. A gourmet kitchen has been added by Dr. and Mrs. Hugh Coleman and collections of vintage furniture, antique toys, and books are seen throughout the circa 1893 home.
Mr. Frank Nola's garden behind his home at 601 Franklin Street will be open for the tour. Featuring garden "rooms" the garden uses trees and shrubs to define spaces following the more formal French and Italian traditions. Sculptures are interspersed throughout the garden areas.
St. Mary of the Visitation Church at 222 Jefferson Street will also be open during the tour. Begun in 1861, the church's construction was halted during the Civil War but resumed
shortly thereafter. Built of native sandstone hauled from Monte Sano Mountain, this Romanesque structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tickets may be purchased from in Huntsville from Lawren's, Harrison Brothers Hardware, The Greenery, both locations of Belk, Railroad Station Antique Mall, and Summer Classics. Madison's Hartlex Antiques and Interiors will also have tickets for sale.
For the Voices from the Past Cemetery Stroll on Sunday, May 3, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Maple Hill Cemetery will be filled with over 70 costumed volunteers portraying Huntsville notables buried in the cemetery. Musicians will play historic music while visitors stroll among the graves of five Alabama governors and soldiers from every war, including men who wore both blue and gray during the Civil War. Other notables who will be portrayed include a gypsy queen and a Huntsville madam who donated her home to help Huntsville Hospital get its start. A restored 1927 Studebaker Erskine Roadster with a rumble seat will also be on display. Huntsville native Albert Russel Erksine, who was president of the Studebaker Corporation, is buried in Maple Hill Cemetery. Admission is free but donations to be used for cemetery restoration will be accepted. All children under 12 must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
For more information about the Historic Homes Tour or Voices from the Past Cemetery Stroll call 1-800-772-2348 or visit the website www.huntsvillepilgrimage.org .