Vintage Crimson

Adventures in Restoring Antebellum Houses in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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The Devil Is in the Details


Clearly, this table has not been used for dining in quite some time.  For the past several months, my dining room has been “command central” for the renovation of my old house. There has been a surprising amount paperwork involved.  It is sweat equity of a different kind.

Today I celebrated a milestone along the paper trail.  I completed the third and final phase of my application for a Historic Preservation Tax Credit. This tax credit is a wonderful program administered by the National Park Service.  If your renovation qualifies, you can receive a Federal tax credit worth 20% of your total qualifying renovation costs.

There are three phases of the application.  Each of them involved lots of photos, explanations, schematic drawings and math!  I am a historian, and you may have guessed that math is not my strong suit.  As I was completing the invoice totals for phase three, I overheard one of my sons cautioning another to avoid the dining room, “because mom is doing math in there.”  Nevertheless, I perservered and mailed the application this morning.  I am a bit nervous, after all a substantial amount of money is at stake, and I do have two sons at university.  Wish me well.

Soon, my dining room will revert to its original purpose.  I will organize all my records and pack them away.  A day will be spent dusting and polishing the furniture.  But the first meal eaten there will be bittersweet.  I will miss the chaos of renovations.

Good Hair Day


Southern women have style  and we love to show it off.  I just got back from the beauty shop (center of small town life in the south) with a new ‘do.  I feel sooo good.  We all know that feeling, a new haircut, a great outfit, or a new pair of heels can just put that extra swing in your step.

Southern homes must share this trait.  I think of the old house as a mature lady who still has her good bones and her attitude, but suffered a run of bad luck.  She was desperately in need of cosmetic help.

In 1988, The Tuscaloosa News printed an article entitled “Designer Strives for Right Color for Historic Homes.”   In the article, Lee Rahe, a Professor in the Interior Design Department at the University of Alabama, is photographed on the second floor balcony at 815 17th Avenue.  He is demonstrating how it is painted the wrong historic color.  It’s like being pictured as a Glamour Magazine “Don’t.”  The paint color on my house is , according to Professor Rahe, neither “authentic nor appropriate.”  How embarrassing…

Fortunately 2013 is giving the house a brighter face.  She is now being painted a color recommended as the best antebellum white by Southern Living Magazine.  The sun is shining and the first wisteria blossoms are scenting the air in Tuscaloosa.  I believe the old house is feeling good in her new ‘do.  We have a way to go, but she will soon be ready to strut.

I am thinking about calling The Tuscaloosa News to demand a follow-up.


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