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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Southern Architectural Accents

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Being born and reared in the Deep South, 
I have always been drawn to architectural accents 
that are wood, stone, glass, or any natural design that has character

No sleek, modern stark interiors for me.
I like looking at them, but cannot live in them. 

Think antebellum mansions with two-story massive columns, 
wrap-around porches, curved staircases, ten-twelve foot ceilings, 
raised wood panel walls, glass transoms over doors, and iron railings.
No, I did not live in such a house while growing up,
but I did live in a very shabby old dorm for four years while in college. 

While visiting my mother this summer, my brother, sister-in-law, sister, mother,
and I took a little road trip to an architectural salvage store in Cullman, Alabama. 

Southern Accents Architectural Antiques
Southern Accents Architectural Antiques describes itself as having the largest 
collection of architectural antiques in the South, selling both from their 
brick and mortar store in Cullman and from an online store. 

A collection of antique doors and chandeliers in the main floor showroom 
are just a glimpse of all that is to be found on multi-levels, inside and out, 
and in multiple buildings with entrances from more than one city street. 

Need an antique deadbolt lock to go with your new antique door? 

How about porch columns, interior columns, or stair newel posts? 

Would you like an ornate capital for your antique column or 
to repurpose as a plant, book, or cloche stand? 

Room after room all began as a small collection in 1969 in the garage of the owner 
who has turned over the day-to-day operations to his son with the help of twelve employees. 
Do you see the chandeliers?  How about that door-size carved mirror? 

And there it is, a transom window over a door! 
It reminds me of my college dorm room's transom. 
Yes, my dorm was a three-story red brick building with 
the entrance in a central turret, flanked on either side with a half-walled 
second-story terrace onto which my three huge windows opened. 
The ten-foot ceilings in the room rose above a very worn 
wood planked floor.  When the terrace windows and the transom 
were opened at the same time, a nice breeze cooled the room. 
For heat, there was a steam radiator. 
No air-conditioning or central heating system. 

But, I don't have memories of being hot or cold 
in O'Neil Hall at Florence State University, Alabama. 
Now known as the University of North Alabama,
the school's beginnings were in 1830, and it became 
the first state teacher's college south of the Ohio River. 

Many of these architectural salvage pieces could have 
come from O'Neil Hall with its wide curved banister staircases. 

One of my favorite finds was the old fireplace surround with the fleur-de-lis. 
No, it didn't come home with me, but I kept going back to look at it one more time. 
It was badly damaged with part of the iron broken to the right of the fleur-de-lis. 

Nothing like finding the very exact Old Chicago brass gooseneck faucet that was in 
your current house for over twenty years to make you feel like a relic yourself. 
My old gooseneck faucet is now in the garden shed, 
replaced by a newer, non-leaking faucet for the kitchen sink. 

There were so many one-of-a-kind beautiful old pieces everywhere. 
These were lying on the floor amidst many other plainer pieces. 
One of these, and its matching mate found after rummaging around 
on a nearby shelf, came home with me.  

Now that I look at my photos again, 
I'm wishing I had bought another piece in this photo. 

Looking at these photos also makes me excited to get to go 
the Round Top Antiques Fair in south Texas September 28-October 1. 
Once again, it is going to be hard to choose what to buy. 
Things I will be looking for are a French mirror, old iron fencing, 
and a blue seltzer bottle from France. 

Plus, I will be keeping my eyes open for unexpected treasures. 

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