Homewood History Remains

Homewood History Remains

Tucked away in a corner of Homewood is a home with almost a century of history. Although wisteria-draped evergreens hide the 98-year-old house from view, the property is a hidden treasure to the city of Homewood.

All the history behind the Pink House gave the city of Homewood a piece of its charm. In 2004, the home was sold after its second set of owners sold it to a developer, Patrick O’Sullivan, who planned to tear down the Pink House. In June of 2018, the Homewood Planning Commission, said it was official, and they started planning for the historic Bridges Home to be torn down to make way for 5 new homes on the 2.5-acre lot. 

In late September, with all hope almost lost, the family of Holley Ellis bought the Pink House and hopes to move in immediately. “We have purchased the home and are hoping to be moving in to begin restoring it. It will be a private residence. My brother and his family live a few doors down, so we are excited to be in Homewood with them,” said Holley Ellis. 

Holley Ellis will be renovating the inside of the home but hopes to keep its history alive by placing the original statues that were in the front of the home, around the Homewood area. The history of the home was just as important to the Ellis family as it was the whole community, and although it is a private residence, Holley Ellis created an Instagram account to post about some of the history and remnants of the Pink House. 

The history of the home is what made this home so important to the Homewood Community.  According to the Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society Facebook page, famous artists, Eleanor and Georges Bridges built this large pink stucco house in the heart of Homewood in 1921. Under Eleanor’s care and instruction, the Pink House also served as a boarding school for children abandoned at mining towns in the district. Eleanor taught them a focused curriculum of art and literature. 

Together the Bridges provided free art classes to students from Homewood City Schools and spoke annually on the importance of cultural education. Eleanor was named Birmingham Woman of the Year in 1953 and became Vice President for Art and Culture for the Birmingham Centennial committee. 

On top of all of this, Eleanor was a prolific painter. Eleanor was commissioned to paint Presidential pets such as “Fala,” Franklin Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier, and “Liberty,” Gerald Ford’s Golden Retriever. Many of her portraits were exhibited at the Birmingham Museum of Art She also painted the reading-room mural at the Woodlawn Public Library and a mural in the lobby of the Brown-Marx Building. 

As if the lives of this dynamic couple aren’t impressive enough, the Bridges hosted many famous guests. For example, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and even Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna of Russia spent time at the Pink House.

For months, the people of Homewood have given unbelievable effort to save the home from demolition. The Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society, local investors, national organizations and the community started raising funds in hopes to purchase the property by February and convert it into a community space for local events, art classes, and a museum. The Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society, along with the community raised also $40,000. 

“Razing the house and secret garden will leave a historic neighborhood unrecognizable and continue our city’s troubling cycle of destroying historical sites and regretting it once it’s too late,” said Dylan Spencer, a board member of the Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society. “Our plan is for the property to become sort of a miniature botanical gardens with space for an art gallery, free art classes, gardening, weddings, movies on the lawn. Something for the community to enjoy.”

Although the Pink House will not be used as a community space, the people of Homewood are overjoyed to have a piece of their history saved from demolition. “When you start getting ready of the stuff that makes a place a place, we lose the feeling of home and charm that comes along with history,” said Dylan Spencer.