The threat of Shorter Mansion being turned into an apartment building prompted a group of Eufaula residents to raise money to purchase the house at auction in 1965, soon forming the Heritage Association and eventually hosting the annual Pilgrimage, Alabama’s oldest tour of homes.
Col. (Ret.) Albert Simpson was the featured speaker at Thursday night’s annual Heritage Association meeting held at the mansion’s pavilion. Simpson, in charge of the grounds at Shorter Mansion, gave a 54-year history of the events that made the Heritage Association what it is today.
“About three weeks ago, Pam (Snead, the executive director of the Heritage Association) asked me to speak at this meeting,” Simpson said. “Actually, she told me I was going to speak. It all started in 1965. Lyndon Johnson was the president, George Wallace was the governor, and his brother, Jack Wallace, was the district judge. American buildings came here in 1964. On March 8, 1965, the first U.S. troops entered Vietnam.
“An article in the Eufaula Tribune in 1965 said the mansion was going to be sold. A man was going to buy it and make four apartments out of it. We said we couldn’t have that. We had the desire, but no money. A group raised $32,000 in $2,000 notes, which were fortunately never used.”
The mansion was purchased at auction for $33,000. A group formed the Heritage Association and raised $55,000 in a three-day period. On Jan. 1, 1971, the Heritage Association had a debt of $78,000. Today there is no debt.
Simpson loves the group so much that he is in charge of the grounds at Shorter Mansion.
Katie Moore was honored as the chair for the 54th annual Pilgrimage, while Julie Bailey was introduced as chair for the 55th Pilgrimage, which will be April 3-5, 2020.
The Christmas Tour of Homes will be Dec. 7 from 1-6 p.m. There are seven homes, plus Shorter Mansion, on the tour. Marian Bargewell will be chair for the 13th consecutive year.
The Christmas Tour will include the following homes: Shorter Mansion, Vick, Mott, Plummer, The Eufaula House on Barbour, Phillips, LeMaistre, and Winkleblack. There will also be in after-hours event at Shorter Mansion.
Snead honored Janie White, Catherine Mott, Steve Risch, Judy Hepner, Betty Griffin, Linda Perdue, Catherine Lehman, Rosemary Bennett, Catherine Thomas, and elders Beerher and Abbott.
Snead also honored Cal Wilson of Tuscaloosa, Ragan Dillon Cain of Birmingham, and Janis Vick four their special help of the Pilgrimage.