Campus Landmark: The Kilgore House
August 13th, 2012 - Filed under: Connections
The Kilgore House is a familiar sight for anyone who has driven down Hackberry Lane or caught a bus at the Hub. Its light blue siding, dark blue shutters and bay windows with stained glass make it unique among the red brick buildings of campus.
Now, in order to make way for a new Fresh Foods dining facility, it is for sale and will be removed from UA property.
The house was built in 1890 at the edge of Bryce Hospital property as a dwelling for its engineers. According to Donna Baker, editor-in-chief of Alabama Heritage magazine, the house has been a part of UA history since the early 20th century, long before it was owned by UA.
“It first belonged to Charles Kilgore and his family,” Baker said. “They opened their house up to male students and later female students when their niece Cora came to live with them and then attended UA.”
At the time when it was being used by students, it was referred to as the Kilgore Ranch and the first female faculty member, Anna Hunter, lived there as a disciplinarian for the young ladies. “This building is the oldest still standing that housed University women,” said Baker. “But once Cora and one of their young daughters died, the Kilgores stopped boarding students at the house.”
Since 1976, when it was obtained as part of a property exchange with Bryce Hospital, the Kilgore House has been owned by the University. Alabama Heritage began its operation in a single room there in 1985 and eventually took over the whole building. With its mission “to educate, inspire and entertain with the stories of Alabama’s history and culture,” the magazine was perfectly suited to the historic site. Having been with the magazine for 20 years, marketing director Sara Martin says what she will miss most about the house is its loveliness.
“It has a beautiful staircase, mantle and gorgeous hardwood floors. I’ve experienced history happening in that house when people have read articles in our magazines and come in to tell us their roles in the stories.”
Baker agrees with Martin – though she is happy with the magazine’s move to a historic building in downtown Northport, she hopes someone will buy the Kilgore House and move it completely intact so it will continue to be enjoyed by future generations.
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