2 months ago

Have yourself a merry little Victorian holiday at Birmingham’s 1898 mansion B&Bs

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at the Hassinger Daniels Mansion Bed and Breakfast (B&B) and Cobb Lane B&B in Birmingham.

Guests and passersby who venture into the Magic City’s only B&Bs are greeted with glorious bursts of holiday color. The gracious old homes, which date to 1898 and are on the National Register of Historic Places, pay tribute to Christmas with festive red, green and gold trimmings. Greenery and holly berries, along with touches of red and gold ribbon, adorn many doorways and bannisters throughout the homes.

The ornate iron fence of the Hassinger Daniels Mansion – decked with garland, pine cones and shiny red bells – clues visitors to delights within. Curious folks often stop to gaze at these beautiful Queen Anne Victorian mansions seated among shops and award-winning restaurants in Birmingham’s historic Five Points South neighborhood.

“It’s like a real-life dollhouse. A lot of times, people aren’t looking for us because we’re off the beaten path. Most bed and breakfasts are in rural areas,” said assistant innkeeper Kathleen McAlister, who assists proprietor and owner Sheila Chaffin, former executive director of Campus Planning at UAB.

B&B guests seek proximity to Birmingham’s five hospitals, concert venues, restaurants or for rest during a road trip. McAllister has served guests from Canada, China, Norway, Switzerland and Africa.

“It’s homey and you feel comfy, which is especially welcome before stressful events such as a doctor’s appointment,” McAlister said of Hassinger Daniel’s 10 bedrooms, four of which are two-bed suites.

“We get a lot of football traffic, and some people stay before a job interview at UAB,” McAlister said. “Some people are very interested in the architecture of churches here, and some are interested in seeing the Civil Rights Institute.” One favorite recurring guest stays several times a year to host a civil rights tour.

The mansion was designed by Thomas Walter, grandson of the architect for the U.S. Capitol dome, for William Hassinger, president of Southern Iron and Steel Co. He and his wife, Virginia, lived in the mansion until they moved to Hassinger Castle in Birmingham’s Redmont Park. Years later, the 12,000-square-foot mansion was a dual optician office and residence. The Chaffins are the third owners in 121 years.

The Chaffins toiled through a four-year restoration, including electrical wiring and plumbing, that oversaw the addition of 14 bathrooms. A photo album attests to the home’s earlier disrepair.

The restored mansion is a treat for the eyes. Guests enter the mahogany “doorway back in time” when they see the boysenberry red foyer with soaring 20 foot ceilings adorned with sparkling crystal chandeliers. The stairway to two upper floors, wreathed in holiday greenery, is lit by 16 heraldry themed stained-glass windows original to the mansion. True to the home’s vintage, there are no elevators.

The spacious, sun-drenched parlor is steeped in late 1800s design. At the large windows overlooking Highland Avenue, a wooden “hippogriff” – a winged horse-like figure with an eagle’s face, hand-carved by Ira Chaffin – is decorated with a huge gold bow, its outstretched wings seemingly in welcome. Two carved mahogany settees drenched in velvet invite one to admire the angel-topped tree, where 15 dolls and a nutcracker pay homage to the holidays.

Sheila Chaffin, ever mindful of the home’s Victorian heritage, curated the antique furniture throughout the home.

“Sheila scours the South and the Birmingham metro area for antiques,” McAlister said. “She goes all over to estate sales and auctions.” An iron gazebo in the backyard, dotted with Parisian-like touches of gold, came from Tuscaloosa.

All bedrooms have a theme and their own character:

  • Blue Serenity – Sleeps three guests.
  • Camelot – Contains carved carousel horses by renowned sculptor Ira Chaffin.
  • Enchanting Turret – Provides a four-post king-size bed and a queen-size bed inside the turret.
  • Garden View – Has a kitchenette and a clawfoot tub.
  • Hera’s Loft – Has a daybed and a couch.
  • Peacock Room – A magnificent stuffed peacock presides above the bed.
  • Seraphim – Features cherubs and an ornamental fireplace.
  • Southern Belle – The two-bedroom suite has fashionable decor and a balcony.
  • Victorian Chamber – Features a queen-size Tudor bed, antiques, ornamental fireplace and pendulous chandelier.
  • Vulcan Vista – Allows views of the “Iron Man” from a dormer window or clawfoot tub.

Singularly Southern

McAlister likes to provide “good old-fashioned Southern hospitality.” Raised in Birmingham, she has worked for Chaffin off and on for 10 years, starting as a student at UAB.

“I enjoy chatting with guests at breakfast – it’s like starting the day with a tea party,” McAlister said. The calming elegance of the pale blue dining room, its formal table set with gold and green antique china and glassware, makes breakfast a special occasion.

“Meeting people from all over the world and getting to be their Birmingham tour guide is a really neat experience,” she said. “You never know who you’ll meet. I remember once, we had two guests from Auburn who turned out to know each other. Neither knew the other one was here, and one woman heard her friend talking in another room and realized the world is, in fact, quite small.’”

McAlister delights in helping guests, whether she is placing home-baked cookies in the parlor or helping select a restaurant.

“We’re a small operation with two inns. But there are lots of odds and ends to running a bed and breakfast,” McAlister said, with a chuckle. “You may spend one day walking around with a ladder and installing light bulbs. The next day, you’re a plumber.”

The mansions have seen many proposals, weddings and formal teas. Offerings of personalized service, comfort, lovely décor and easy walking distance to about 40 restaurants and shops earn the B&Bs high ratings on Trip Advisor.

A recent guest wrote about their stay at Hassinger Daniels B&B: “A once-in-a-lifetime experience. This place is like sleeping in, or staying in, a castle. The stairs were restored perfectly, and the stained glass was awesome to look at.”

Relax at Cobb Lane

Cobb Lane B&B’s gracious veranda beckons guests to stay awhile. It’s easy to imagine guests lounging in wicker chairs, indulging in people-watching while sipping a mint julep or sweet iced tea.

Like its sister mansion, Cobb Lane is warm and welcoming. Built by Birmingham’s then-tax collector, the 4,500-square-foot house has seven guest rooms.

The deep wine-colored walls of the entry rooms are both elegant and relaxing. In the parlor, 10 Christmas Village houses illuminate a corner. The elegant dining room, framed in Christmas ornaments and holiday greenery, displays a silver tea service on a large china hutch and a gracious table set with red antique glasses and china. An 1860s-era carved mahogany chair is on display.

The house has several themed bedrooms, such as Bird of Paradise, Camellia, Country French Suite and Periwinkle. True to its name, the Romantic Rose room is draped in satin-smooth wallpaper, its seating area and table featuring delicate pink blooms. The downstairs Zebra Room, decorated in modern black and white furnishings, offers privacy and easy parking access.

A former Cobb Lane guest wrote, “When it comes to breakfast, Sheila puts the second B in B&B. Sit, enjoy the meal and the conversation. The surroundings have history, mystery and magic.”


Reserve your stay

Rooms: Priced at $99 to $159 per night, plus tax.

Amenities: Free Wi-Fi and free parking; daily maid service. Free, hot breakfast is served in the formal dining room with fresh flowers and candles. Enjoy complimentary beverages and cookies in the parlor.

Contact: Hassinger Daniels at 205-930-5800; Cobb Lane at 205-918-9090.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

1 hour ago

Montgomery launches ‘Feed the Meter for the Homeless’ project

Under the leadership of Mayor Steven L. Reed, new specialized parking meters were installed last week in downtown Montgomery to provide a quick, convenient way to support locals affected by homelessness.

Reed announced the meters were on the way during a recent city council meeting. Called the “Feed the Meter for the Homeless” project, the City’s new initiative is made possible through a partnership with the Mid-Alabama Coalition for the Homeless (MACH).

The special parking meters are green and offer residents a way to donate directly to support MACH and central Alabama agencies working with those experiencing homelessness in Alabama’s capital city. Donations will be accepted in the forms of coins or cash at each specialized meter and by card through the ParkMobile app (zone 36999) or online payment.

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“The Feed the Meter for the Homeless initiative connects compassion with convenience by allowing Montgomery residents and visitors to support our neighbors affected by homelessness and its devastating ramifications,” Reed said in a statement. “Each donation is a hand-up to help those in need and an investment in building a better future for Montgomery and the River Region.”

For more information on Feed the Meter for the Homeless MGM, please click here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Cathy Randall now serving on board of The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham

Dr. Cathy J. Randall, chairman of the board of Pettus Randall Holdings, LLC, is now serving as a board member for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham.

The Women’s Fund made the announcement in a recent release, detailing that Randall term’s officially began on January 1. A Birmingham native and Tuscaloosa resident, she is a longtime, prominent civic and corporate leader, as well as the legendary former director of the University Honors Programs at the University of Alabama.

Tracey Morant Adams, board chair for The Women’s Fund, said in a statement, “The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham strives to elevate and amplify women’s voices, and we are incredibly fortunate to welcome Dr. Randall to our board as she is a well-established voice in the state.”

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“Cathy’s passion for community service and her experience in building a better Alabama will be a tremendous asset for the organization,” Adams added.

Randall’s service to the state includes being immediate past chairman of the Alabama Academy of Honor and former president of the boards of directors of the American Village, the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame and the David Mathews Center of Civic Life, as well as former director of Alabama Girls State.

Additionally, she currently serves on the board of Alabama Power Company and is a former board member of Mercedes Benz USI. Randall was the co-chair of Governor Kay Ivey’s inaugural committee and was named as a Woman of Impact by Yellowhammer Multimedia in 2018.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Sessions responds to ‘desperate and afraid’ Byrne and Tuberville — ‘Sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point’

With Alabama’s U.S. Senate Republican primary headed into the home stretch, the field’s three front-runners are beginning to mix it up among one another.

The first significant shot came from U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who on Saturday went up on air with an ad attacking both his leading opponents: former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville has thrown a few barbs as well while on the stump, including one at Sessions that accused him of having “turned on” President Donald Trump.

In a statement given to Yellowhammer News, Sessions condemned the tone of both Byrne and Tuberville, noting their positions in recent polling and describing their tacks as “sleazy.”

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“It is unfortunate that both Tommy Tuberville and Bradley Byrne have abandoned any pretense of running a positive campaign. But it is not surprising: both candidates are trailing in the polls, and when politicians like Tuberville and Byrne are losing, they become desperate and afraid,” Sessions stated. “Both Tuberville and Byrne have quit on themselves and their campaigns. Neither can connect with voters on the merits of their ideas. It is sad to see them both descend to such a sleazy low point.”

Sessions warned there would be a response if this activity persisted.

“If their baseless, desperate attacks continue, they will be forcefully answered,” he continued.

The former U.S. Senator maintained that Alabamians in this primary will be focused on substantive issues.

“The key issue for Alabamians is who will most effectively and forcefully fight for their conservative values and interests, such as ending illegal immigration, protecting our jobs from unfair foreign competition, defending religious freedom, and further advancing our strong Trump economy.”

Alabama Republican voters on March 3 will cast a ballot for their preference to represent them on the general election ballot in November.

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly and host of Huntsville’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN.

16 hours ago

Leaders, educators and students gather for Alabama’s 2nd Annual HBCU Summit

Alabama’s 2nd Annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Summit celebrated the state’s 14 HBCUs and the value they bring to higher education across our state and country. Saturday’s event, moderated by Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, was held at Miles College in Fairfield.

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The event kicked off with a panel discussion titled “Women in the Lead: How Six Alabama HBCU Presidents Are Raising the Bar.” The session included comments from:

“Extraordinary panel of women in leadership positions,” Jones said afterwards. “I think they provide unique insights to this. Just an amazing group of women that come from varied backgrounds — they came from academics, but also from business, so it’s a unique perspective that is what is going on with HBCUs but also with higher education in general.”

The panelists touched on a number of topics, including ways to help more high school students and nontraditional students get enrolled, making the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) simpler to fill out, partnering with businesses to offer degrees and curriculum the businesses need and working together to elevate the communities they serve.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on is that the benefit of being an HBCU is that … you may not have these large classrooms like you have (elsewhere), but you have teachers that know your name, teachers that care,” Archie said. “We’re going to give you that pep talk when you need that pep talk and we’re going to help you achieve.”

It is that level of concern for students that stood out to Jones.

“These female leaders are so dynamic and so passionate about what they do,” Jones said. “They care so much about their students and their communities. They really represent the best of all HBCUs. HBCUs are the fabric of the communities and I think you saw that reflected here today.”

The summit also featured a career fair and an afternoon panel discussion titled “Student Voices: How Alabama HBCU Student-Leaders Are Lifting Up Their Campuses.” The panel, moderated by Jones, featured students from Miles College, Alabama A&M University, Shelton State Community College, Talladega College and Trenholm State Community College.

“Trying to educate and train the workforce of the 21st century is going to be a challenge,” Jones said. “We’re changing technologically, we’re changing demographically, we’re online — everything is moving in a different direction. Education has got to keep up with that, but also so do businesses. They’ve also got to start reaching out and develop those partnerships to not only train, but to mentor. I think you heard that today.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

16 hours ago

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP field while Jones trails all, Birmingham’s battle over monuments and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Alabama Democratic Executive Committee member Lisa Handback take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Is President Donald Trump causing mistrust in government or is he exploiting that lack of trust?

— With new polls out, does Jeff Sessions have the GOP race locked up and does Doug Jones even have a chance?

— Is Birmingham’s mayor boosting his profile while continuing the fight over a Confederate monument?

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Jackson and Handback are joined by Secretary of State John Merrill to discuss the latest report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that claims Alabama is suppressing voters and Merrill’s willingness to take on more responsibility at the Secretary of State’s office.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” at the waste of millions of dollars Alabama municipalities spend on “public notices” because of a series of outdated laws requiring publication of voter rolls and public notices in local newspapers.

Alabama Politics This Week – 2/16/20

VIDEO: Trust in government was lost long ago, Jeff Sessions leads GOP fields while Jones trails all, Birmingham's battle over monuments has no real purpose and more on Alabama Politics This Week

Posted by Yellowhammer News on Friday, February 14, 2020

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.