City’s historic board to oversee Mahler Home repairs

Published 3:34 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2018

By NANCY WILSTACH / Special to the Reporter

MONTEVALLO – Montevallo’s Historic Preservation Commission is taking charge of restoration of the Mahler House at Shoal Creek Park, following action Monday night by the Montevallo City Council.

The house was bequeathed to the city as a part of a 167-acre farm on Alabama 119 by Elizabeth Mahler. One of the conditions of the gift was that the house be used for the benefit of Montevallo residents.

However, it is in poor structural condition, said Janice Seaman, HPC chair. Seaman said that the property’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. “We need to get on this immediately,” she said.

The front porch is in such poor condition, she said, that it could collapse. “If the porch goes, the whole front of the house will come down.”

Restoring the house to a condition that would make it habitable for a caretaker is expected to cost $364,768.13, according to the city’s plan.

However, only $290,000 is available for the work from the money designated by the Mahler estate for work on the home. The bequest included a provision that land across Alabama 119 from the home could be sold if necessary to repair the 1840 home place.

However, some council members and Mayor Hollie Cost expressed reluctance to sell any real estate.

Other work under way at the park includes two bridges, one of which is something of a mystery.

Besides the initial bridge and trail project being coordinated by the Montevallo Development Cooperative District, Cost announced Monday night that a “very generous donor” has agreed to spend $115,000 on a second bridge in the park if the council agrees to name it in memory of a deceased family member. However, the name is not to be divulged until the bridge contract is signed. The second bridge also is under the MDCD’s supervision.

In other business, the council:

  • Refused to buy the former Victory car dealership at Shelby and Main streets without an environmental assessment. The property occupies a half block between Main and Valley Streets and adjoins city property.
  • It had been used for auto repair and an impound lot for many years. Council members were cautious of the owners’ offer to sell the property for $375,000 “as is,” meaning without conditions requiring a clean environmental bill of health.
  • Voted to cut the overgrown lots at 235 Wilson Drive and 98 Western Drive at the recommendation of the city’s abatement board.
  • Voted to approve an agreement with CGI Communications of Rochester, N.Y., to produce a promotional video about Montevallo to be published on the city’s web page. That vote was 5-0 with Jason Peterson abstaining.