By Ally Morrison
The Decorators’ ShowHouse is making its much-anticipated return.
After being suspended for two years because of the pandemic, the event returns this year and will be held April 23-May 8 at Hallmark Farm, organizers announced. The showcase is an annual fundraising event for the Alabama Symphony, sponsored by the Symphony Volunteer Council.
Participating designers choose a room at the estate to decorate. They can enhance and redesign their chosen space from floor to ceiling, which ultimately results in a variety of styles and art throughout the house.
Hallmark Farm, located off Interstate 65 in Warrior, was developed by Fred and Mary Hallmark. The 565-acre estate features a well-known lake, barn, and manor. It’s a landmark for passersby on the interstate, who during Christmas time can see cascading lights on Hallmark Barn and the floating Christmas tree in the lake.
Alabama Symphony’s Executive Director Mark Patrick described how excited he is for the return of the ShowHouse to Hallmark Farm.
“For many years since I was a kid, I’ve always seen it and thought it was cool and wondered what it would be like to look inside,” Patrick said. “To come out of the pandemic and be able to get such an iconic property, it’s really great. I’m really excited about it. I think it’s a great opportunity. People haven’t been able to do much, so to be able to come back in such a grand fashion and have such a great place to work with, I think there will be a lot of interest in it.”
According to Patrick, Decorators’ ShowHouse is the biggest fundraiser of the symphony’s supporting auxiliary groups.
“It’s such a long-standing tradition,” Patrick said. “I’ve been with the orchestra for almost 18 years, and it was well established when I started.”
“The Volunteer Council contributes proceeds from the event to the symphony’s general operating funds, but they are also a big supporter of our education programs,” Patrick said. “Every year they hold a competition for a young musician to win a scholarship. They sponsor a young, up-and-coming musician with a competition, and the winner gets a scholarship and an opportunity to play with the orchestra.”
Additionally, Patrick described how much the Volunteer Council has done for the orchestra. According to Patrick, when the orchestra fell on hard times in the ’90s, the council purchased all of the orchestra’s assets, including the music library and equipment, and held onto it until the orchestra came out of bankruptcy. When the orchestra came back, the Volunteer Council had all of the necessary equipment to get the orchestra back on track.
“I’m very excited about the event,” Patrick said. “After seeing it before being decorated, it’s going to be a real treat to see the results after.”
This year, designer Lynne Coker will be participating in her 14th Decorators’ ShowHouse.
“It’s been two years, so I think everyone is even more excited than before. It’s always so fun,” Coker said. “In the master suite, where I will be working, there are French moldings. The thing that will be such a fun challenge is how to incorporate design elements that are ‘of the moment’, in a more traditional room. The key will be balance.”
According to Coker, her design style is ever-changing. She enjoys working with a traditional style of interiors, but after collaborating with her clients and learning about their personal tastes, she has grown to love other variations of design.
President of the Volunteer Council, Molly Bee Bloetscher, details challenges that have been faced planning the ShowHouse due to the pandemic.
“With this project being on hold for two years, we weren’t going to give up.” Bloetscher said. “When you have this much interest in the house already, you know that it will be a big turnout. People are ready to get out and look at something different. It takes you someplace else. It is going to be beautiful.”
“The grounds will be beautiful, the trees will be blooming and it will be a lush and beautiful experience,” ShowHouse co-chair Cheryl Floyd said. “I’m so glad that we are able to have the house, because it is so different than what we have had in the past.”
Redevelopment of Iconic Property
In 2019, Hallmark Farms Cooperative, a group established by the Jefferson County Commission and the city of Warrior, purchased the farm with plans to redevelop. It has been reported the redevelopment may include offices, retail and event spaces. Warrior’s Mayor Johnny Ragland has high hopes there will be a plan set in place sometime this year.
“We have several leads and tips we are working on right now, but hopefully after the ShowHouse, we will have a couple of announcements to make as far as redevelopment goes,” Ragland said.
In a 2019 news release, District 5 Jefferson County Commissioner and Hallmark Farms Cooperative President Steve Ammons described the plan for redevelopment as a respectable goal.
“This development is going to honor the Hallmark Family by preserving the house and at the same time provide 700 much-needed jobs and economic growth for this area,” Ammons said.
In addition to the showcasing of interior design talent, food trucks will line the streets of the estate for ShowHouse ticketholders to purchase food and drinks during the event.
Tickets are available now on the Decorators’ ShowHouse Facebook page. Advance tickets are $25 through April 22. Tickets can be purchased at the door for an increased price of $30.