By William C. Singleton III
The Homewood Historical Society is trying to raise money to save the Bridges Home. But the society’s president said they’ve got a way to go if they want to keep the historic pink home from being torn down.
“We’ve formed a non-profit in Alabama and we’re waiting to get our tax number and then we can get a GoFundMe page,” said Martha Wustele Jones. “We’ve gotten some (donations), but we’re hoping for corporate backing after we get the tax number.”
Jones wouldn’t say how much the society has raised. “We’ve had donations from New Hampshire, Mobile, California. This has gone nationwide,” Jones said. “They’re coming in every day.”
Jones and supporters are trying to raise funds to buy the home at 214 Edgewood Boulevard known as the Bridges Home. The home previously belonged to Georges and Eleanor Bridges, artists who roamed through Europe before they made the pink stucco home their permanent dwelling in the 1920s. The property on which the home sits features an elaborate garden and is surrounded by an assortment of lush trees that shield the house from the neighborhood streets.
The Bridges raised children abandoned in the mines during the Great Depression and hosted prominent American writers in their home, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Eric and Diana Hansen purchased the home in 1988 and have lived there ever since. However, in 2004, the Hansens sold the home to developer Pat O’Sullivan because they needed money for a family medical crisis, Diana Hansen said at the recent Homewood Planning Commission meeting.
At that June 5 meeting, the commission approved plans for O’Sullivan to subdivide six lots at 214 Edgewood Boulevard to accommodate five new houses. O’Sullivan’s plans call for the demolition of the Bridges Home, although he told the Hansens he would let them stay there at least until the end of January.
Greg Cobb, Homewood’s director of engineering, planning and zoning, said once the Planning Commission approved the lot subdivision, there was nothing more the city could do to stop O’Sullivan’s plans.
O’Sullivan has said he would listen to any proposals to buy the property.
Now it’s all on the society and supporters. Currently, Jones said the society doesn’t have a figure it needs to raise but is operating from a statement Diana Hansen made at the commission meeting that she needs $5 million to get the property back. “I offered $2.5 million. I don’t have it but I offered it,” Jones said. “He (O’Sullivan) told me to put it in writing and he’ll entertain it.”
“We still have time to save this house,” she added.