Friday, January 25, 2008

Finney-Alsmiller Home

In 1913, Thomas L. and Julia E. lived in our home, whether they built it I do not know. This is the earliest date I found in the in archives at the downtown library. In order to get a Historical plaque you have to research and find the first two owners. Which is why the house is the Finnney-Alsmiller house. I've had the papers for a while (ummm 2 years), I just stumbled on them this morning while digging through THE "black book" for our house...i.e.- decorating stuff, paint colors, contracters numbers, ect..It brought back the 2 years of hell we went through to get in this house. Anyways, back to the history....
Thomas and Julia lived here from 1913-1940. Thomas Finney was Sec- Treas. for Pepsi Cola Bottle Co. in Birmingham. He had also been, according to the 1916 directory, the promoter for 401 Brown-Marx bldg. Our address was then 1031 Glen Iris Avenue and at some point, which I do not know, it changed. In 1928 Julia is listed as (wid TL) meaning she was now a widow. In 1940 the owner's became Walter G. and Mary D. Alsmiller - Occupation, office manager Hill Dental Co. Inc. It also states, Walter Jr. was a student, so we know they at least had one child. The last recording in the directory's was the year 1965 with the listing reading (Mary D. Mrs.).
In 1972, Annie and Johnny Lynch started the Women's Mission in our home. Amazingly they did not chop it up and make it into a office space. Our den was the "chapel" where they prayed with the women and our dining room was where the Sec. sat to greet people who came in. Our master bathroom was a room that they covered the windows in carpet and ran a radio station out of. Our bedrooms were clothes and coats rooms for the women and children. It is now called the Bethany home and obviously in a different location which Annie, now widowed, and Merrell run. It is an amazing place and safe house for women. Ironically, I am now the president for their Auxiliary Club and they are now under the Bethany Home instead of The Christian Mission. Back to the history though.
A couple bought the home from the Mission and slowly started to restore it. The pictures that were passed down to us our amazing, with them stripping the columns and the works. I am pretty sure they bought it in the 1980's. As we know, this house sucks money out of you left and right. Some things happened and they did not have the funds to maintain it, nor afford living here anymore. With the banks about to foreclose, an agent/appraiser Dale offered them $100,000 for the home in 2004. They took it. Dale set off to renovate it and decided the project was too overwhelming -money and time- for it to be worth the flip. So, that is how we ended up with it.
The day it went on the market, I drove down with 10 month old Hudson in the pouring rain, jumped out of the car at the first site of the house and called CJ to tell him I had found our house, I had not been in it at this point.CJ, on his way home from out of town stopped by, ran through the downstairs, their was another agent upstairs and by 9 pm we had a contract on the house. For whatever reason God has placed us here in this community with many, many diverse folks. I love it and hate it to sum it up, but have a peace knowing this is where God wants us to be for now, and it is great fun living in this grand old house with such a past.
I often wonder what the many, many people were like who walked our very halls. Did they sit on the porch in the boiling summer heat with friends, like we do? Did they enjoy spring nights with the katydids chirping and the smell of fresh cut grass? Did they have babies or children that filled our house with laughter as we do now? Were they happily married? When was plumbing added and the carriage house out back torn down? How did they survive the summers without AC? So many unanswered questions. The joy and beauty of living in this old house.

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