Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cullman County Historical Society holding Christmas Tour of Homes this weekend

The new headquarters of the Cullman County Historical Society and a renovated downtown commercial building are among the homes to be featured in the society’s annual Christmas Tour of Homes on Sunday, December 5.

The historic Hays House (pictured above) at 611 First Ave. SW will be open from 2 until 5 p.m. for tours and to sell tickets to the tour. The Historical Society dedicated the former home of Dr. Luther Hays as its new headquarters in November. Dr. Hays began practicing medicine in Cullman in 1901. The home he built with his wife Ethel features a wrap-around porch typical of Southern houses. In addition to his family’s quarters, the house also held his medical office.

The offices of Lee Powell Cotton States, (pictured right) will also be open for the tour. Lee and Ginger Powell bought the two story commercial building two years ago, with plans to make it office space for his insurance business and a loft home upstairs for their young family. The building has housed several businesses in recent years but is best known as the Nehi Building. The local Royal Crown bottling company mixed its fizzy concoctions on the second floor and bottled and sold them on the first floor.

The home of Jay and Alice Page, is on the Alabama Historic Commission’s Register of Landmarks and Historic Buildings. It is a Jacobean Revival style house and its beautiful and original architectural features have been preserved. The home was built by Dwight and Gladys Fuller. Bertha Cooper, a longtime employee of Leeth Bank, lived in the house for many years. It was featured in the Dot Graf book, "If Walls Could Talk."

The Hartung-Bonham home, was built in 1930 by Dr. Phillip Hartung, the grand-nephew of Col. Johann Gottfried Cullmann, our town’s founder. It remained in the possession of his descendants until this century. The Dutch Colonial style home is now owned by Becky Bonham. When the house was built, it was part of Cullman’s medical district. A small hospital was located nearby. Many of the nearby homes were doctors’ homes and offices. A front room of the house likely was an office for Dr. Hartung and is now a studio for Bonham.

The home of Charlotte and the late William Meredith, was also built in the 1930s by Charles Edward Young. Mr. Young also built the house next door and lived there with his mother. He built the Meredith house as a three-unit apartment building. When Suzanne and Neil Freeman (Cullman’s former superintendent of education) bought the houses from the Young estate, they totally renovated both as single-family homes.

Tickets for the tour will be sold at the Hays House, as well as at each home on the tour. They cost $10. Proceeds from the sale of tickets are used by the Cullman County Historical Society for its projects in the community, including the new murals of historic scenes on downtown buildings. The Historic Society is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dr. Luther Hayes House, Cullman historic murals dedicated

The Cullman County Historical Society dedicated its new home, the Dr. Luther Hayes House, as well as several new murals that pay homage to the city's history.

Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell told the assembled crowd that Cullman's mural project was the biggest in the state's "2010: Year of Small Town and Downtown" program. The society's past president and current executive board member Dot Gudger, who got the mural project started, and Mayor Max Townsend, who lent support, also spoke.

Artists Bethany Kerr, Jack Tupper, Adrian Scott, Steve Carter, Donald Walker and Cullman Aquatic Center campers with leader Kristie Turner were thanked for their work, as were donors and building owners who allowed murals to be painted on their property.

Click here to see a Google map of the murals and other historic sites in Cullman.

Lee Sentell

Dot Gudger

Jack Tupper and Bethany Kerr, front, and Dot Gudger, back

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cullman historical murals to be dedicated

The Cullman County Historical Society will hold an official dedication of the "2010: Year of Small Town and Downtown" project, "Lest We Forget" Cullman murals.

The Dr. Luther Hayes Home will be dedicated as the new headquarters of the historical society and will be open for a reception before and after the dedication.

After the ceremony, attendees may ride CARTS buses to each mural with a guide who will tell the story of each mural. The tour will also stop at the new "2010: Year of Small Town and Downtown" historical marker telling the story of Cullman County.

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m., Sunday, November 21, 2010 at the Hayes House, 611 First Avenue SW, one block south of the Cullman County Courthouse.

The beautiful paintings were done by local artists on the sides of public buildings. The first was a portrait of Col. Johann Cullmann, the town's founder, on the side of Newman's Cleaners on Hwy. 278. Others murals depict historic buildings which no longer exist, including the first county courthouse, Werdt's Deli and the Leeth Bank. Others include the USS Cuilman, a troop transport ship active during World War II, and an South and North train locomotive.

See our Google map of the murals and other historic sites here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cullman Countians share their almost 100 years of experiences

Ninety-nine-year-old Agnes Alvis shares stories of her life with the Cullman County Historical Society during the group's October meeting. When told she'd have to come back next year to celebrate her 100th birthday, Mrs. Alvis quipped, "Don't count on it!"

Agnes Alvis, foreground, reflects on a question as her friend since 1936, Gladys Bailey, listens in the background.

Gladys Bailey, 96, tells of growing up, marrying and raising a family in Cullman County.
(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

1st Leeth Bank mural

Donald Walker poses with his mural of the 1st Leeth Bank (1906).
Click photo to enlarge.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

U.S.S. Cullman, Leeth Building murals

Currently under way are murals of the U.S.S. Cullman by Jack Tupper and the Leeth building by Donald Walker. Follow the ship on the building next to Carlton's Italian Restaurant on Third Avenue North between Second and Third streets. The Leeth mural is at Second Avenue (U.S. 31) and Fourth Street South on the side of Baker Photography.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cullman County Electric Cooperative mural

Bethany Kerr has finished the Cullman County Electric Cooperative mural on the side of the Edward Jones building on U.S. 31. (Click picture to see larger.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cullman Living History Cemetery Tour

This year's Living History cemetery tour will be at the Catholic Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 2 and Sunday, Oct. 3 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. each night. Admission is $8. To take the tour catch one of the buses at Festhalle Market Platz at the corner of First Avenue and Arnold Street NW.

Actors will portray former Cullman residents Charles Kleibacker (pictured at right), Frank Joseph Schmitt, George Veigl Sr. and Lena Illgen Veigl, Joseph and Catherine Otte, John George Imbusch, Joseph Mackentepe, Henry Hoelscher, Joseph Fink, James William Shabel and Col. Johann Cullmann.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cullman's first train mural

Jack Tupper's completed mural of Cullman's first train. (Note Col. Cullmann himself riding in the caboose.) Click on picture to zoom.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cullman Electric Co-op Mural

Bethany Kerr is working on the latest historical mural, a scene of early rural electrification. You can catch her progress on the building at 101 2nd Ave. SW. (The Edward Jones Building on U.S. 31 -- Find it on our Google map of murals and historical sites.)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Cullman mural

Behind the main office of First Federal Savings and Loan across the street from the courthouse, the newest historical mural depicts Cullman in the 1880s through photographs. The mural, by Wallace State Community College art professor Adrian Scott, will be displayed when the savings and loan doesn't have promotions to advertise.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

August Historical Society Meeting

Working meeting for cemetery and bus tours during Oktoberfest:
2 p.m. at Ruehl Building
601 3rd Ave. SE
Cullman, Alabama

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cullman in the 1780s, first train murals

Above, Jack Tupper is working on a mural of the first train to stop in Cullman. It's located on 2nd Avenue NE between Young and Elizabeth steets, viewable from the shaved ice stand.

Below, summer campers from the Cullman Aquatics Center helped paint a mural of Cullman in the 1780s, when Indians were the main residents. The mural is in an alleyway on 4th Avenue SE, between 1st and 2nd streets on the side of Consign and Design.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

'View from Brindley Mountain' author Eugene Scruggs to speak

Eugene Scruggs, author of "The View from Brindley Mountain," a memoir of growing up in Cullman, will be the guest speaker at The Cullman County Historical Society's meeting Sunday, July 25 at 2 p.m. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. at the Ruehl Building, 601 Third Ave. SE, Cullman, Alabama.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Map of Cullman murals, historical sites

Take a virtual tour of historic sites in Cullman if you can't get there -- or use this map on your smartphone or iPad to guide yourself around town. There are photos and a link to our video tour down First Avenue.

View Cullman Historical Murals and Sites in a larger map

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sunday, June 27, 2010

History of Brindley family in Cullman

Long before Col. Johann G. Cullmann brought German immigrants to what is now known as Cullman County, Mace Thomas Payne Brindley had settled in the community. Brindley Mountain now takes up parts of Cullman, Morgan, Marshall, Winston and Lawrence counties in Alabama.

Brindley’s great-great grandson, Joe Brindley, told the June 2010 meeting of the Cullman County Historical Society about his family’s history from its origins in Ireland to running grocery stores in Cullman and other places in North Alabama.

Mace Brindley owned an 1,800-acre farm and became active in politics becoming probate judge of Blount County and later a state representative and senator. As a state tax collector, he would cut the bills sent to the state capital in Montgomery in two and send half by horseman then half later to assure the tax money wouldn’t be stolen. The bills would be put back together in Montgomery.

Joe’s brother Hugh was known as grocer in Cullman, operating Brindley’s Market after a stint managing A&P stores. In the early 1960s, Joe and Hugh Brindley traveled to Birmingham to meet with Joe Bruno, who was experimenting with a new type of store called a “supermarket.” Hugh decided family-named stores were going to pass from the scene and obtained the local Piggly Wiggly franchise. Joe disagreed, and moved on to a career at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, first with NASA, then with the U.S. Army.

Asked about the spelling “Brindlee Mountain” in Marshall County, Brindley explained that a misspelling had occurred at some point and was never corrected. Despite attempts to fix the spelling of Brindlee Mountain Parkway and Brindlee Mountain Middle School, a powerful politician, and then-owner of Brindlee Mountain Telephone Co., Sid McDonald, was successful in quashing them.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

West Point to celebrate centennial in October

The Town of West Point will celebrate its 100th birthday on Oct. 2, 2010 with a car show, tractor show, arts and crafts and children's events.

Memorabilia of the town is being sought: photos, records or anything else of note, to be displayed in Town Hall. Descendants of the following families are encouraged to bring memorabilia to be displayed in the historical booths: Jordan, Tankersley, Cornelius, Morgan, Baker, Huffstutler, Cheatwood, Pesto, Howell/Heck, Ponder, Nesmith, Cochrin, Wix, Wren, Reese, Griggs, Helton and Quick.

For more information, contact West Point Town Hall at 256-734-0006 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Fridays only.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Upcoming “Great Alabama Homecoming” events

Some 215 towns across Alabama welcome you home this year during the Great Alabama Homecoming. It’s all part of the Year of Alabama Small Towns & Downtowns- a celebration of everything that is Sweet Home Alabama. There are homecoming events and festivals going on practically every weekend through mid-December. Upcoming events include:

30th Annual Alabama Blueberry Festival- Brewton- June 19
Gainesville Day- Gainesville Day- June 19
Memorial Park Homecoming- Jasper- June 19
Slocomb Tomato Festival- Slocomb- June 19
Small Town Celebration- Susan Moore- June 19
Annual Masonic Day Celebration- Florala- June 24
Helen Keller Festival- Tuscumbia- June 24-27
Brighton Homecoming- Brighton- June 25-27
Peach Jam Jubilee- Clanton- June 25
Liberty Day- Columbiana- June 25-26
Homecoming/Centennial Cemetery Day- Hobson City- June 25-26
Wild West Blocton Davis- West Blocton- June 25-26
Town of Shorter Liberty Day- Shorter- June 26
Sylvan Springs Old-Fashioned Evening in the Park- Sylvan Springs- June 26
God and Country Celebration- Wilsonville- June 27

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Cullman Historic Walking Tour

Carolyn Peinhardt Johnson led the second week of walking tours through Cullman's historic district Saturday, assisted by Michael Sullins, who had lead the first tour. Two more tours are set for the remaining Saturdays in June. Each starts at 10 a.m. at the Col. Cullmann home.

Below, the tour begins at the Col. Cullmann home; Johnson examines a photo of the building that is now home to Rumor's Deli with deli owner Ralph Harris; the group walks by the old sign on the Cullman Banana Supply building; the group hears about the Steifelmeyer Building from inside the renovated building; and the tour concludes at the Weis Cottage.  (Videos of the tour have been interspersed with the photos.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Walking Tours of Cullman

Free walking tours of Cullman will be conducted every Saturday during June. They will start at 10 a.m on the front porch of the Cullman County Museum on the corner of First Avenue and Arnold Street NE and end on Second Avenue Arnold Street NE. To help with the heat, there will be three water breaks this year.

And on the other three Saturdays you can choose from one of the other 30 or so towns across Alabama that will be taking part in the Alabama Tourism Department's June Walking Tours. The June Walking Tours are part of state tourism’s “Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns” state-wide promotion.

Towns and starting places for the June Walking Tours are: Ashland, Ashland City Hall; Ashville, St. Clair Tourism Office; Athens, Limestone County Courthouse Annex Parking Lot; Atmore, Heritage Park; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Cullman, Cullman County Museum; Courtland, Park on the Square; Decatur, Delano Park Rose Garden; Demopolis, City Hall; Enterprise, Rawls Hotel; Eufaula, Chamber of Commerce Depot; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various starting locations; Gadsden, Pitman Theatre; Gordo, Chamber of Commerce; Guntersville, Chamber of Commerce; Hartselle, Historic Depot; Hayneville, Lowndes County Courthouse; Homewood, City Hall. Huntsville, Constitution Village (June 5 & 12 only); Madison, Madison Roundhouse (June 19 & 26 only); Monroeville, Old Courthouse Museum; Montevallo, Chamber of Commerce; Montgomery; Montgomery Visitor Center; Oak Hill, Bethel ARP Church; Prattville, Autauga County Heritage Center; Selma, Dallas County Public Library; Scottsboro, Jackson County Heritage Center; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Silas, Silas Community Center; Sylacauga, B.B. Comer Library; Thomasville, Thomasville Civic Center; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore; Tuskegee, Tuskegee Human and Civil Rights Multicultural Center; Wetumpka, Chamber of Commerce.

The tours are being coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. The beauty of the June Walking Tours is that any community, whether big or small, can do this. We have done more than 1,000 walking tours since the beginning of the program seven years ago and they keep increasing in popularity every year,” Jones said. More information about the June Walking Tours is available by going online at www.alabama.travel or by calling 1-800-ALABAMA.

Take Cullman Oktoberfest's historical photo quiz on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

City of Cullman logo mural

Bethany Kerr's latest mural near Carlton's Italian Restaurant:
(Photo courtesy Bethany Kerr)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Doyle Bullard discusses growing up in Cullman County

Doyle Bullard, right, leads the meeting in singing "America the Beautiful."

Doyle Bullard grew up on a two-mule farm.

"My dad didn't like horses," Bullard told the May meeting of the Cullman County Historical Society. "He said (horses) were too spirited and would run away with the plows."

A longtime educator in Cullman, Bullard shared his experiences growing up on a farm in the Walter community during the Great Depression.

In addition to those two mules, the 40-acre Bullard farm had Jersey cows, hogs and yard chickens, but no electricity until 1938. Bullard's mother bought most supplies from one of three "rolling stores" that came through.

"Actually, we didn't have money to buy anything," Bullard said. His mother bartered the butter and eggs she'd collected that day.

Iced tea and lemonade were treats, the ice obtained by chipping it from a block bought at the Cullman Ice Factory. The block could be kept frozen for days wrapped inside three layers of burlap sacks and insulated with sawdust.

The Bullards relied on a dug well, though some neighbors had drilled wells or used a hillside stream. Only residents of the city had running water, so farms typically used an outhouse, as did the schools. A No. 3 galvanized wash tub made for a bath, and Bullard usually had to share the same bathwater with his brother.

Cotton was the family's main crop, and every community had a sawmill to serve the nearby farms. Mostly, communities had to take care of everything themselves, from growing their own food to digging graves.

"People were very enterprising," Bullard said. "We had to be if we wanted to survive."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Cullman Mural Updates

Click photos to enlarge
Cullman High School, early 1900s by Bethany Kerr

German Bank signage by Steve Carter

Cullman in the 1880s by Jack Tupper

(Photos courtesy Bethany Kerr)

May Historical Society Meeting

The Cullman County Historical Society will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday, Mary 23, 2010 at the Ruehl Building, 601 3rd Ave. SE, Cullman, Alabama.

Doyle Bullard will discuss "A Lifetime in Cullman County."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cullman in the 1880s mural update

Murals by Jack Tupper. Photos courtesy of Bethany Kerr.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Richard Buettner shares history of Buettner Bros. in Cullman

`Making a phone call in Cullman used to be like picking up the phone in Mayberry and talking to Sarah the operator.

"Aunt Clara, I need to talk to Uncle Herman," Richard Buettner said he used to say when his aunt worked at the telephone company. She'd patch him through without needing to get an exchange.

Buettner's great-grandfather founded what is now known as Buettner Bros. Lumber in Cullman in 1886. The company, known for its iconic green benches seen around town since the 1950s, has been through many iterations since that time.

The company once milled its own lumber, taking the sawmills out into the woods and moving them as needed. They've built everything from chicken coops, beehives, furniture, showcases, church pews and shell homes like Jim Walter. Their screen door business suffered when Lowe's moved in, but picked back up after people discovered the cheaper ones didn't last as long.

Throughout the years Buettner Bros. also has manufactured beer dispensers, miniature pool tables and even a device to hold cluster bombs for the military.

Buettner Bros. opened a Gardendale store in the 1970s, but has since sold it. And as for the famous whistle that used to be heard throughout town, Buettner says the store still has it, but no longer produces steam with which to blow it.

Currently, the business is being run by a fifth generation.

"We've come a long way -- and we're still here," Buettner said.
Richard Buettner displays parts from a beehive. As a child he was paid a penny a piece to nail them together.