By Virginia Martin
The Homewood Historical Preservation Society is continuing its push to raise money to buy the “Pink House” in Edgewood, also known as the Bridges Home, to save it from being demolished and recommit it as a public space open to the community.
The society is working with local investors, national organizations and the community to raise money to buy the property before a Feb. 1 deadline, according to a statement from the society.
The house has a storied history of art and celebrity, but a developer bought the house and land from its most recent owner and plans to build five houses on the property.
“We don’t want to vilify the developer. We don’t believe that growth and change are bad,” Dylan Spencer, a member of the society’s board, said in the statement. “We just believe this is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime property worth saving – and we are doing our best to save it. We hope other folks who love Homewood and Birmingham will join us by donating to the campaign by visiting our website or reaching out if they are interested in becoming a cornerstone investor.”
The house was built in 1921 on the corner of Roseland Drive and Edgewood Boulevard. The house and an elaborate garden, which the society dubbed the “secret garden,” are surrounded by trees that shield the house from the neighborhood streets.
Georges and Eleanor Bridges, both accomplished artists, made the property their home in the 1920s. They raised children abandoned in the mines during the Great Depression there and hosted prominent American writers in their home, including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. They also gave shelter to refugees from Mexico in the house.
Georges Bridges was a sculptor and created the Brother Bryan statue in the garden of the house. Eleanor Bridges was an acclaimed painter who also worked in the house.
Eric and Diana Hansen purchased the home in 1988 and have lived there ever since but sold it to a developer in 2004, when they faced medical bills. The developer, Pat O’Sullivan, allowed the Hansens to continue living in the house until this month.
The Homewood Planning Commission has approved his plan to demolish the house and subdivide the property into six lots to accommodate five new houses.
O’Sullivan has said he would entertain proposals to buy the property. Spencer said a final fundraising goal is not being announced because the amount needed will depend on negotiations between investors and the current owner.
According to the fundraising website, donors contributing $1,000 or more can make prior arrangements to have their donations refunded if the campaign to save the Pink House fails.
“This property has meant so much to the people of Homewood, to the Birmingham arts community, to the many refugees the Bridges welcomed into their home,” Spencer said in the statement. “Our hope is that the Pink House will continue for another hundred years, but now even better – as a community space open to the public.
“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. 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 – just a beautiful place for people from all over Birmingham to enjoy.”
Donations to save the structure may be made at savethehomewoodpinkhouse.com. Those interested in becoming a cornerstone investor may email Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks made out to “Homewood Alabama Historical Preservation Society” also may be mailed to 904 Forrest Drive S., Homewood, AL 35029.
“This is absolutely possible – all it takes is finding the right like-minded investors and donors who share in our affection and foresight for Homewood and for Birmingham,” Spencer said in the statement. “There is limitless potential in this property for the people of our city. This is a very special place that people from across the greater Birmingham area should be able to come together and enjoy.”