What was once a funeral home and one of Eufaula’s oldest structures is now dying before citizens’ very eyes as weather conditions and lack of attention is slowly bringing the historic building to its final days.
That is unless Doug Purcell, who nominated the Cowan Ramser House/White’s Funeral Home as one of the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and Alabama Historic Commission’s Places in Peril for 2019, can change things... quickly. This summer, the home was listed as the top Places in Peril among the aforementioned groups in all of Alabama.
The home is one of the few surviving Greek Revival residences in Eufaula.
Located at 441 East Barbour Street just a couple of doors west of the Eufaula Police Department, the house has become something of an eyesore with its condition, including broken windows and a seriously damaged roof from various wind damage over the years. In fact, bat guano can be smelled coming from the building as accumulated waste continues to grow.
“I want to see the house saved,” Purcell said. “It’s one of eight that was recorded here by the Historic American Building Survey in the 1930s.”
The 1930s listing included the nearby Sheppard Cottage on Barbour Street and what is now the John Mott/New York Life building on Broad Street.
Built circa 1840, Purcell said the Cowan Ramser House/White’s Funeral Home was purchased by the Lewis family in about 1948 and turned into the White Funeral Home, which is what it remained until it closed close to a decade ago.
Today, Walter Lewis of the Orlando, Florida, area owns the home.
The Places in Peril list said the house has been repeatedly damaged by storms and is in immediate needs of repairs or it risks destruction.
Purcell agreed, although he said Lewis hopes to “weather-in” the house and begin cleanup inside.
Robert Gamble, a retired architectural historian with the Alabama Historical Commission and author of The Alabama Catalog: Historic American Building Survey, A Guide to the Early Architecture of the State (1987, University of Alabama Press) has noted that the Cowan-Ramser House is “… an important early landmark — significant not just for Eufaula but for the Lower Chattahoochee region right on down into the Panhandle.”
Lewis, Purcell said, plans to come to Eufaula soon and begin repair of the home.