Vintage Crimson

Adventures in Restoring Antebellum Houses in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Let There Be Light

New chandeliers have been ordered for the Drish House as work begins on the interior renovation. 

“Looks Like We Made It!”

The culmination of many months of hard work came yesterday when I was notified that the Drish House has been added to the National Historic Register. Thank you Gene Ford, Ian Crawford, John McCool and everyone who worked so hard on this effort!  

As a civilized people, we must work together to preserve our past and give our old buildings new life. I look forward to adapting the Dridh House so that it can be an active part of life in Tuscaloosa once again. Lots of hard work still lies ahead, but today I just want to celebrate a milestone reached. Prayer and hard work have prevailed! 

“Drish House In the News”

Thanks to The Tuscaloosa News for this wonderful article about my work on the Drish House.

“Ghost Stories”

Do you believe in ghosts? I have not felt any ‘presence’ in the Drish House, but many people have. I can say that there is no basement, no record of slave burnings and that Katherine Drish lived with one of her sons after the Civil War. What do you think of these stories?

“Storytelling – A Southern Voice”

Alabama is a haunted land. It is a land of ghosts. Perhaps it was the defeat in war and passing of the antebellum South that left us with these restless spirits, inhabiting the grand structures left abandoned.

Many of us here in Alabama treasure the memory of Thomasville born Kathryn Tucker Windham, the storyteller who was the voice of our collective past. Her classic book, Thirteen Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey, is on most of our bookshelves and her stories are part of our childhoods. They has delighted and terrified readers since 1969. Embedded in these stories is a wealth of history and folklore. Even though they are works of fiction, there are many kernels if truth.

“Death Lights in the Tower” is Windham’s story detailing the ghosts of the Drish House.

I hope you enjoy it!

“Tuscaloosa News”

If any of you are wondering why I would invest my time and money to save crumbling antebellum mansions, this article in the current issue of Tuscaloosa magazine has my answer!



“Homework: Remembering”

This short film was made by some students at the University of Alabama as a homework project. They are not film majors, so the audio quality is lacking. But, I thought they did a wonderful job of capturing my motivation for rescuing old houses and what the Drish House means to the city of Tuscaloosa. I think they deserve an “A”! Let me know what you think.

“Very Fashionable”

The Drish House has hosted many elegant parties in its long history. Ladies in fashionable attire are nothing new. In this tradition, I would like to share a beautiful fashion shoot featuring lovely models in the Drish House. Thank you to Robert Sutton and my friends at Tuscaloosa Magazine.

“An Energetic, Ambitious Woman, With … Ordinary Opportunities”

Another famed American photographer who visited the Drish House was Frances Benjamin Johnson (1864-1952).  Frances, or “Fannie”, was a one of the earliest American female photographers and photojournalists.  She was also something of a  ‘character’.



Fannie Johnson was the only surviving child of wealthy and well-connected parents and an independent, strong-willed woman.  She studied art at the Academie Julian in Paris and was given her first camera by George Eastman, the inventor of Eastman Kodak cameras.  She received early training in photography and dark-room techniques from Thomas Smillie, director of photography at the Smithsonian Institution.  Still in her twenties, Fannie opened a studio in Washington DC and made many famous portraits, including those of Alice Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain and Booker T. Washington. The self-portraits above and below show that she was also not afraid to turn the camera lens on herself.  As her fame and reputation grew, she received more and more important commissions.  Eventually becoming the official White House photographer for the Harrison, Cleveland, Mckinley, T.R. Roosevelt and Taft administrations.


In 1897, Fannie published a article in Ladies Home Journal entitled “What a Woman Can Do With a Camera.”  Apparently, this woman could do quite a lot.  She urged women to consider careers in photography. “To an energetic, ambitious woman with even ordinary opportunities, success is always possible,” she wrote, adding that “hard, intelligent and conscientious work seldom fails to develop small beginnings into large results.”  Now there is a advice we all need to take!

In the 1920s, Fannie became increasingly interested in photographing architecture, motivated by a desire to document buildings or gardens which were falling into disrepair or threatened by development.  In 1933, she was given a grant by the Carnegie Corporation to document the early architecture of Virginia, and she was to receive five more Carnegie grants to document the architecture of the American South. Collectively these photographs (more than 7,100 images) are referred to as the “Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South.”  They are housed at the LIbrary of Congress.


As part of the Carnegie Survey, Fannie visited Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1939 to photograph the Drish House. Her images are stark and majestic.


Fannie Johnson was named an honorary member of the American institute of Architects for her work to photographing historic buildings.  She moved to New Orleans in 1945, having acquired a love for the South, and she continued working there until her death in 1952.

Demolition Day – Southside Baptist Church

I thought this video was amazing.  You can see the demolition of the Southside Baptist Church addition to the Drish House.  The addition is the three story red brick structure at the left in the photograph below.  It served as the sanctuary for Southside Baptist after their congregation outgrew the original sanctuary on the first floor of the Drish House.




Here is the video, the narrator is my sweet friend Katherine Richter, Executive Director of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society:


And here is a photograph showing the side of the Drish House after demolition is complete.



Demolishing the addition was a painful (and painstaking) first step toward the restoration of the Drish House.

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