Stately homes and outdoor tranquility beckon in Eufaula.
By Lynn Grisard Fullman
Antebellum homes line wide boulevards in Eufaula, Ala. Sidewalks are shaded by moss-draped trees in this southeast Alabama town that dates to 1823. Named for an early Creek Indian tribe, the Eufaulas, the town today offers a kaleidoscope of reasons to visit–in addition to strolling the inviting and lovely avenues.
Above: The regal Shorter Mansion is open for tours year-round. It also is on the spring pilgrimage tour.
Below: Anglers of any age can enjoy a day of fishing at Lake Eufaula. Eufaula Chamber of Commerce photos
Small town charm
Eufaula’s Seth Lore and Irwinton Historic District is laden with more than 700 significant structures. Contained in these historical areas are Alabama’s most coherent collection of intact mid- to late-19th-century, small-town, commercial buildings, and the state’s most extensive collection of domestic Italianate architecture. Take your camera when you visit.
A short walk away is the Creek Indian Trail, the city’s rails-to-trails project. Radiating from East Broad Street, the three-mile stretch of paved trail begins across from the chamber of commerce. The chamber office keeps a supply of brochures, which are available outside the building when the office is closed. Self-guided walking tour brochures are helpful.
A few blocks north of downtown, Fairview Cemetery (North Randolph Avenue at Browder Street) is a somber but interesting history lesson. Surrounded by an iron fence and lush with greenery, the cemetery holds graves of early Jewish residents, European settlers, slaves, and Confederate soldiers.
The Shorter Mansion on North Eufaula Avenue was built by Gov. Eli Shorter as a modest, one-story home in 1884. Major renovations, including the addition of a second level, were made in 1906. With 17 Corinthian columns supporting a veranda on three sides, the mansion is open for tours. It also is home to the Eufaula Heritage Association, which has hosted the annual spring Eufaula Pilgrimage since 1966. During pilgrimage, area residents shine their silver and fling wide the doors to allow visitors to peek inside their majestic homes. The 2013 pilgrimage is planned for April 5–7.
The town’s other home that’s open year-round for tours is Fendall Hall on West Barbour Street. Edward Young, one of Eufaula’s leading citizens at the time, completed the home in 1860. Five generations of his descendants have occupied the Italianate house that is noted for its elaborate and rare interior decorative paintings from the 1880s. Period furnishings fill the house that is an Alabama Historical Commission site.
In addition to its history and small-town charm, Eufaula is a favorite getaway for outdoor recreation. The 11,184-acre Eufaula National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1964, is home to deer, quail, rabbits, otter, coyotes, and more. Look for birds of the water while listening for the warble of songbirds. Odds are favorable that you will spot something, as more than 280 bird species have been seen there.
Eight miles north of Eufaula and approximately two miles east of U.S. Highway 431, the refuge’s headquarters is staffed Monday–Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Brochures always are available near the parking area. Near the refuge is Lake-point Resort State Park. Several one- to four-bedroom cottages front a slice of the 45,000-acre Lake Eufaula, known for the big bass that make these waters home.
Built in 2005, cottages have fully equipped kitchens with slate tile and a counter with bar stools, living room, two bathrooms, hardwood floors, and carpeted bedrooms.
After closing for renovations in 2007, the 101-room Lakepoint State Park Lodge re-opened in August 2009. Each of the rooms is outfitted with a 32-inch flat screen television, small refrigerator, and area photographs by local photographer Todd Adams.
Among the collection of rooms are several suites with king-size beds, bath, kitchenette (with large refrigerator and microwave), dining area, and separate sitting area. The entire lodge and all the rooms have wireless Internet.
The expansive park includes 245 improved campsites, 29 cabins (with two and four bedrooms), picnic areas, an 18-hole golf course, several hiking trails, and a marina.
Rounding out your visit
In addition to the lodge and cabins, accommodations in Eufaula include the Comfort Suites on Paul Lee Parkway (AAA Three Diamond), Super 8 on South Eufaula Avenue (AAA Two Diamond), and Jameson Inn on Towne Center Boulevard (AAA Two Diamond).
Enjoy some of the local fare at Blue Moon Coffee Shop (breakfast) on South Eufaula Avenue, Phil’s B-B-Q (lunch) on South Randolph Avenue, and River City Grill (dinner) on East Broad Street.
Annual events, including fishing tournaments, are major draws to Eufaula. Upcoming events include: Indian Summer Arts and Craft Show (Oct. 13-14) and the Christmas Tour of Homes (Dec. 1).
Whether you have only a single day or several to spend, don’t miss touring this historical town where opportunities for exploration are abundant and where history is palpable.
Lynn Grisard Fullman is a contributor from Birmingham, Ala.