By Keysha Drexel
When Alison Scott and her family moved to Alabama in 2009, the Mountain Brook woman said she finally felt like she had found her home.
Scott’s father was in the Navy, and she spent most of her life moving from one Naval base to another, with no place to really call her hometown.
“But when we found this house and moved here, I finally felt like it was a place to put down our roots, a place we could call home for a very long time,” the president of the Junior League of Birmingham said.
Scott, her husband of 15 years, Stephen, and the couple’s three children–12-year-old Brennan, 11-year-old Grayson and 10-year-old Georgia Kate, live in a three-story brick house on Rockhill Road.
The family moved to Mountain Brook from New Orleans, where they lived for 10 years.
“I loved the sense of history in New Orleans,” Scott said. “There’s something special about living in a place that’s older than this country.”
Scott’s husband is an attorney with offices in New Orleans and Birmingham, and the family would often travel between the two cities together.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, Scott’s husband stayed in Birmingham, and she and the kids stayed with her parents in Memphis for four months.
“We evacuated when the hurricane hit and then came back to New Orleans to rebuild, but it just wasn’t the same,” she said.
Four years after Hurricane Katrina, Scott said, she and her husband were ready to make a change.
“We knew we had the option of moving to Alabama, and we were really attracted to the Mountain Brook area because we knew it would be a great place to raise the kids,” she said.
Her time in New Orleans had given Scott a taste for soaring ceilings, and she also knew she wanted a great backyard for her children.
That’s when they found their house on Rockhill Road.
“This house sits on four acres with plenty of trees, and it has the high ceilings and everything we were looking for,” she said.
Built in 1982, the house has five bedrooms, five bathrooms and three levels of living space.
“My favorite room is the living room. It has 12-foot ceilings and huge windows that overlook the backyard,” Scott said.
The living room boasts a marble fireplace and seagrass rugs that can stand up to the wear and tear of three children and the new puppy the family is getting in July.
When it came to decorating her new home, Scott said she didn’t rush to get everything done all at once.
“We wanted to take our time and really be purposeful in what we put in the house,” she said. “It has all been developed over time. As we see things that speak to us, we add them or we change things.”
Scott said she thought it was best not to distract from the wonderful views afforded by those huge windows in the living room and throughout the rest of the house.
“The way the house is built really lends itself to focusing on the outside, on the view, so I kept everything neutral so as not to detract from the natural beauty,” she said.
Hardwood floors throughout the first level tie the rooms together, with soothing hues of greens and blues throughout.
“I have always been attracted to the water, to the colors of water, so I guess I naturally gravitated towards those colors for the house,” she said.
Scott’s love of all things aquatic also shows up in little details throughout the house, including the collections of oyster plates hanging throughout the main level.
“And the sculpture of the school of fish that was carved out of a Louisiana oil drum lid is one of my favorite things,” she said.
But perhaps her favorite piece in her living room, Scott said, is something she says proves she was meant to call Alabama home.
Hanging beside the marble fireplace in the living room is a canvas covered with overlapping maps of Alabama.
“And on it is written the text from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ And of all places, I found it in a little gallery in the middle of the Warehouse District in New Orleans when we moved there, and I had to have it,” she said. “At that time, I had no idea we would end up here, so I think it’s pretty neat.”
Large French doors lead from the living room to a huge, multi-level deck overlooking the backyard’s magnolia trees and rosebushes. An arbor of wisteria frames the seating area on the first level of the deck.
“It’s my favorite spot to hang out in the summer, especially in the evenings,” Scott said. “You go out there at night, and you would never imagine that you are just minutes away from the city.”
When the weather cools down, Scott said, her favorite place to relax at home is in the library, which boasts the same detailed crown molding found in the rest of the house and is decorated in soothing neutrals.
“I love to curl up with a good book in there during the winter months,” she said. “It’s just a very relaxing space.”
Unlike in many homes, Scott said her formal dining room is actually used for what it was intended.
“My husband is from a large family, so it gets a lot of use because we really need that much space when everyone comes over for holidays or other special occasions,” she said.
The dining room table belonged to Scott’s husband’s uncle, who worked for museums all of his life, she said.
“It had three layers of contact paper on it, but we took that off and refinished it,” she said. “My husband’s uncle had a great eye for design, and we’re just really lucky he saw its potential under all that contact paper.”
Scott also kept the colors neutral in the dining room and uses pops of green and white to accent the leafy view from the room’s large windows.
Scott said the next big project for the family will be renovating the kitchen.
“It’s not bad, it just needs to be updated,” she said. “The plan is to lighten it up and to modernize it a bit with new appliances and that kind of thing.”
A photo of the iconic Cafe Du Monde hangs in the kitchen as a nod to the time the family lived in New Orleans.
“I lived in New Orleans longer than I had lived anywhere, so it will always have a special place in my heart,” she said. “But I really feel like Alabama was always supposed to be my home.”
JLB Is One of Nation’s Largest
The Junior League of Birmingham is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.
Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.
As one of the largest volunteer service organizations in Alabama, the JLB has more than 2,400 members who contribute more than 50,000 hours of service annually.
“I think people would be really surprised to learn that we have one of the largest membership numbers of any Junior League group and we’re right behind Dallas and Houston when it comes to the number of members,” said Alison Scott, president.
Its purpose is improving the lives of women and children by working with community agencies to deliver services and assistance to those in need.
“When you walk around Birmingham, you will see that there are not many things in this community that have not been touched by the work of the Junior League in one way or another,” Scott said.
To ensure consistency and a concentrated level of service, JLB community placements focus on four areas–education, financial stability, health, and safety and crisis intervention–and address one or more of the critical issues identified within each of these impact areas.
Each Junior League member must be active in one of the placements for 10 years before she reaches the “sustainer” designation.
The JLB strives, through issue-based volunteerism, to build better partnerships between the agencies it serves, better train JLB members to become experts on the critical issues and provide more meaningful experiences for JLB volunteers.
The JLB’s goal is to eradicate pressing issues within the community, create advocates and community trustees (trained League members) who are passionate about issues, and make a positive impact on the community through systemic change.
All volunteers are required to complete an intensive provisional course and thereafter choose from a wide range of training programs each year.
Through these programs, volunteers acquire the skills, knowledge and empowerment to effectively serve the community.
Community projects are staffed with JLB volunteers who work in partnership with nonprofit, public and community-based organizations.
Scott said JLB will have 37 community projects in the 2014-2015 year alone.
“One of those is Project Yummy, our mobile teaching kitchen that we use to promote healthy eating with children,” she said. “We are also proud of our summer gardening project with the Norwood Community Gardens and the teaching we offer at the (Birmingham) Zoo’s Eco Garden as part of the Zoo School.”
The organization is also expanding its Backpack Buddies program with Vineyard Family Services by adding a mobile food pantry with the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, Scott said.
JLB teaches employment readiness to homeless women at Pathways and Every Moment Matters at Children’s of Alabama.
“We also have our JLB Roundtables, which seek to bring awareness to topics as diverse as human trafficking, heroin addiction and teen suicide,” she said.
The JLB Choral Group, which has performed for the community for 50 years, is among the longest-running Junior League-affiliated choral groups in the nation.
For more information on the Junior League of Birmingham, visit www.jlbonline.com. –Keysha Drexel