The Auburn Preservation League’s (APL) seventh Annual Loveliest Village Christmas Tour of Homes and Buildings will be Saturday, Dec. 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 15, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets for the tour are $20 and are available at Wrapsody in downtown Auburn, The Flower Store in Ogletree Village and the Auburn Chamber.

Tickets will also be available at each home on the days of the tour. For more information about the tour, visit www.auburnpreservationleague.org.

The Griswold home on North College Street

By the time Col. (Ret.) Kelley and Sherri Griswold bought the home at 425 North College Street, it hadn’t been updated since it was built around 1910.

The Griswolds were told the single-family residence was known as the Donahue-Knapp house after its former owners – “Iron” Mike Donahue, head football coach from 1904-06 and 1908-22, and Bradford Knapp, the university president from 1928-32.

Located in a historic district, the home certainly had historic qualities the Griswolds wanted to maintain, but they also wanted to make the home their own.

A renovation and expansion project in 2011-12 was orchestrated by architect Tarik Orgen, professor of architecture in Auburn’s College of Architecture, Design, and Construction. Dean Spratlin Construction served as the contractor.

The Griswolds knew the home had three working fireplaces, but two more were found during the remodel. One found in a bedroom had been bricked over. They decided to keep it that way and made it a part of an antique-looking bathroom complete with a clawfoot tub.

Some of the doors found throughout the house ended up as the ceiling on a new screened-in porch, located off an updated kitchen. Sherri said some of the doors had to be purchased elsewhere to complete the ceiling. Although the space is ideal for watching Auburn University football games – both Sherri and Kelley are alumni, earning degrees in 1975 and 1977, respectively – the Griswolds did not repaint the doors orange and blue.

Sherri said she was sad to learn a large oak tree had to be cut down during the renovations. She was pleased, however, when some of its wood was re-purposed into mantels found throughout the home.

Other special features of the Arts and Crafts style home include exposed rafter tails and stained glass in the door to the garage made by Sherri and Kelley. The new kitchen includes custom cabinets, an island and a farmhouse sink.

The Griswolds say they love the location of their home – it is 0.8 miles to Jordan-Hare Stadium – and the warmth of the Arts and Crafts style.

The restaurant, Acre, on Glenn Avenue

Family played as major role in the construction of Acre, one of Auburn’s newest restaurants.

Chef David Bancroft and his family own the business at 210 E. Glenn Ave. His cousin, Emi K. Price, did the interior design work, incorporating family memories throughout the space. For instance, the white washed oak plank walls were harvested from trees on the farm of Bancroft’s grandfather and the custom basket chandelier in the front dining room was made from an old family fishing basket. In the back hallway, a wall of family photos share memories from generations.

Two genetic clones of the Auburn Oaks at Toomer’s Corner were produced by Bancroft’s brother, Bill, and incorporated into Acre’s landscape.

Bancroft used Sean Foote of SR&F Architects, who was influenced by the traditional English Tudor style, and Dilworth Development to build the restaurant earlier this year.

Acre’s sophisticated charm and repurposed architectural details provide balance to Bancroft’s stylishly modern menu. The booths and banquettes (benches) were custom designed by Price to allow for flexible seating for various size parties. The six four-top booths can be removed and the 18-foot upholstered banquette can be repositioned along the back wall, allowing space for a large head table or dance floor.

Price’s goal was to evoke a comfortable, homelike atmosphere without jeopardizing the durability of the furniture. She was able to make each guest feel special by creating distinct areas that flow together seamlessly. The restaurant’s lofted ceilings showcase beams from the 100-year-old Crawford General Store donated by Bancroft’s fishing buddies, the Letos.

For the exterior, Bancroft’s goal was “to make the most of every square inch of the acre of land.” He purposely surrounded the building with edible landscapes, designed to provide fresh seasonal harvest for use in Acre’s kitchen. Fruit trees are encircled by berries and herbs. An on-site vegetable garden provides heirloom and newly introduced varieties of produce.

Auburn First Baptist on East Glenn Avenue 

Auburn First Baptist Church has been a fixture in the city for 175 years.

Founded in 1838, the first church building was a log house erected on donated land on the north side of West Glenn Avenue, approximately where Toomer Street intersects Glenn. Ten years later, the church moved to its current location on East Glenn. Like many buildings in town, the church itself was used to house sick and wounded soldiers during the Civil War. A violent storm in 1864 unroofed the Baptist church, but rested on the pews, preventing injury to every soldier and volunteer.

The church remained in a dilapidated state until the 1860s when an exact reproduction was constructed. The old fashioned one-room structure had a long wide porch across the front from which there were two entrances, one for the men and one for the women and children. It seated about 200 people.

In 1892 a new building was erected, with three Sunday School rooms across the rear and stained glass windows. As the college enrollment and city’s population grew, an annex was added in 1910.

Construction of the present church building began in 1928. Dr. Spright Dowell, president of Alabama Polytechnic Institute and a member of First Baptist, played a part in the planning for a larger and more adequate building. Construction and furnishings would cost $101,500.

A brick structure with seating for 600 was dedicated on April 29, 1929. Four columns in the Greek revival style supported the portico, but the building, unlike most Baptist churches, had no steeple. 

Modifications in 1948 consisted of extending the front of the church to the street, building a fellowship hall on the lower level, and constructing a new façade with recessed columns. Total costs amounted to $127,129.

An education building was added in 1954 on the east side of the sanctuary for $62,100 and the sanctuary was air conditioned in 1956 for $23,900.

Renovations between the 1980s and 2012 integrated the educational areas, sanctuary and fellowship hall, and modernized all engineering systems and interiors with minimal change in the appearance. 

The church will be decorated for the Season of Advent.

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