An oldie, but a goodie. I was reminded of this story below whilst clearing out some favourite links on my computer. A great story and brilliantly caputured – this is the tale of an abandoned house and it’s new tenant.
The house is known as the Harmony Club which was originally built in 1909 and operated as a social club by the Jewish community of Selma, Alabama. The 20,000 square foot layout of the club was given use according to the floor; the first floor operated as two retail spaces, the second floor was a restaurant up front and a Men’s Lounge in the back. The third floor operated as a ballroom that over the decades experienced many dances and parties. The club functioned for several years non-stop till in the late 1930’s it turned into the Elks Club, where it eventually disbanded in the 1960’s and the building boarded up.
For nearly forty years the building sat alone, cold and dark – till one day David Hurlbut bought it in ’99. Before him, “…the building’s sole inhabitants were a flock of pigeons that left behind what he estimates to be about 140 cubic yards of guano. There was no plumbing, and the electrical wiring was in shambles,” he said. After a small number of visits he purchased the property for a little less than $100,000. It took Hurlbut nearly two years to make Harmony Club a “remotely habitable by most people’s standards”, spending nearly$150,000 on renovations and conservation techniques. Aiming to freeze-frame the space in the 1960’s where it was left by the previous custodians.
Today, Hurlbut operates the first floor as an Arts Revive Show space along with a commercial space where Hurlbert has plans for an Italian restaurant at some stage.