April 5-7: Home owners welcome visitors for Eufaula Pilgrimage

dminty@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 28, 2013 

The expansive, welcoming porch of Sandra Gulledge's Eufaula home awaits guests at this year's Eufaula Pilgrimage.

Eleven historic homes and four gardens will be on display during this year's Eufaula Heritage Association event April 5-7. Candlelight tours are available at some homes on Friday and Saturday evening (April 5-6). Daytime tours of homes and gardens are available all three days of the Pilgrimage.

This is the second year that Sandra has welcomed guests into her home, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built around 1845 and owned by Eufaula's first mayor, Dr. William Horatio Thornton. The impressive porch was added in the early 1900s.

Sandra grew up in the home. Her parents Abe and Jenny Rudderman bought the house in 1939, and began renovations to make it livable, including hiring a decorating team from Atlanta. The couple moved in with their children in 1943.

Just about every decorative object, piece of furniture, carpet and photograph tells a story.

"Oh, these walls talk. They have stories to tell," Sandra says.

The elegantly decorated home is not like a museum, however. It's lived in and has a comfortable and friendly ambiance. Sandra thinks this is because she, like her mother, uses every room.

"This home was mother's love," Sandra says. "She had to sit in every room."

Growing up in the home, there were no rooms that were off limits to Sandra and her four siblings.

Sandra's daughter Sara Hamm fondly remembers her grandmother's joy at sharing her home with her 13 granddaughters. "She loved the house and she loved laughing," Sara remembers. "The house was always open. We could run through it all," she says.

A fire in 1997 caused some damage to the home and helped Sandra's aging mother decide it was time to move. Sandra says it was her husband who convinced her that they had the money and desire to buy the home and repair the fire damage.

"Now, I can't imagine living anywhere else," Sandra said.

When Sandra's husband died three years ago, Sandra moved in to her childhood home.

She's replaced her mother's drapes with shudders and decorated with family photos and a few special objects but mostly she's kept her mother's decorating style. She even found wallpaper online identical to the dinning room's yellowing paper. She ordered it from England and had to hire a team from New York to fly in and install it.

"It can be very costly... but when you are really into history, you just really love it," she said.

All the rooms in the home are square shaped, measuring 25-feet by 25-feet. Each has a fireplace and the large foyer is a sitting area from which the other rooms are accessible.

Sandra's favorite room is the dining room. "We use this room more than anything else because we like to eat," she says.

Sara also loves the dining room. "We gather where there is food," she says.

Sandra hopes the home will stay in the family but she knows that wishes don't pay the bills.

Forty-eighth annual Eufaula Pilgrimage, sponsored by the Eufaula Heritage Association

When: Friday-Sunday, April 5, 6 and 7.

Cost: $7 per home for day or candlelight tours, $4 per garden. See all 11 homes and four gardens for $60.

Information: 334-687-3793 and online at www.eufaulapilgrimage.com

Friday, April 5

Ticket office, at First Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall, 201 N. Randolph Ave., is open 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Daytime Tours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Art Show and Sale: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Seth Lore Historic District on N. Randolph Ave.

Shorter Mansion tea: 2-4 p.m. Reservations required. $20.

Candlelight Tours: 6-9 p.m.

Tales from the Tomb: 7 p.m. Fairview Cemetery on N. Eufaula Avenue

Saturday, April 6

Ticket office is open 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Daytime Tours: Homes and gardens, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Art Show and Sale: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Shorter Mansion tea: 2-4 p.m. Reservations required. $20.

Candlelight Tours: 6-9 p.m.

Tales from the Tomb: 7 p.m. Fairview Cemetery on N. Eufaula Ave.

Sunday, April 7

Ticket office open 1-3 p.m.

Sunday Brunch: 9 a.m.-noon, 340 North Eufaula Ave. $20. Reservations required

Daytime Tours: 1-4 p.m.

Art Show and Sale: 1-4 p.m.

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