By Ann Cipperly
The 1850s Brownfield House on North Eight Street in the Opelika Northside Historic District appears as though as it has been part of the neighborhood since it was built. However, newcomers may not realize it was once located on South Tenth Street and was moved in 1986 to its current location by the Opelika Historic Preservation Society (OHPS) .
While moving and restoring the house was a major accomplishment, the OHPS has also assisted in other local restoration projects. This year the OHPS is celebrating its 40th anniversary at the annual open membership meeting Thursday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Brownfield House. Jane Worthington, who has written two books on Pepperell Village, will be the guest speaker.
The OHPS was formed Sept. 10, 1979, when a group of Opelika residents, who were concerned about the growing loss of historic homes, met at City Hall for an organizational meeting. OHPS was founded to recognize and preserve the historic heritage of Opelika.
The first open membership meeting was held Oct. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church on Second Avenue. Dwight Young of Charleston, S.C, the regional officer for the National Trust of Historical Preservation, was the guest speaker.
After the program, everyone was invited to the Greenhouse Restaurant across the street from the church to pay dues and become a founding member of OHPS.
Officers were Tom Botsford, president; Bill Samford, vice president; Nancy Shivers, second vice president; Joanne Camp, secretary; and Forney Renfro, treasurer.
Founders felt OHPS needed a headquarters, which would serve a dual purpose to accommodate events.
The first major project was to move the Brownfield house from South Tenth Street across town to a vacant lot on North Eighth Street, which was the former site of Cliff High School.
As plans were underway, various fundraisers were held, including a Theater Gala Feb. 25, 1987 with a pre-theater party at Farmers National Bank.
Mary Samford and Gene Torbert were co-chairmen of the party. Richard Moreman, who was president of OHPS at the time, created the floral arrangements.
Local cooks made homemade party dishes, while chefs at the Saugahatchee Country Club prepared chicken fingers. I am not sure if the club used Andy’s Restaurant’s recipe for fried chicken, but the recipe ran with the others in my food column to promote the event. (See following recipes.)
After the party, guests were transported by buses to the Auburn University Theater to view a production of “Peter Pan.” Jane Walker was chairman of transportation and decorated buses with a Peter Pan theme.
Auctions and several other fundraisers were held over the years, including the Grand Slam, which is now the OPHS’s only fundraiser. It is held in the spring every year. Proceeds go toward maintaining the Brownfield structure and benefits local restoration projects.
Some of the community projects the OHPS have helped include the Gingerbread House, Robinson-Huskey house, Arts Association of East Alabama depot restoration, Darden House, Envision Opelika, Municipal Park, Main Street, Girl Scout Hut and others, as well as providing markers for historic sites and houses.
The Brownfield House is open yearly for the Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour in December. Members serve cookies and the signature Brownfield House Wassail Bowl.
“Even though we are proud of everything that has been saved in Opelika,” says Shane Dickerson, OHPS board member, “we need to realize how much has been lost. The need for preservation now is even greater than ever.
“Please join OHPS with the assurance that every dime of your membership dues will go to preserve or mark some place of historic significance,” adds Shane. “Help us to preserve the reminders of where we’ve been to help us know where we are going.”
The meeting is open to the public. Everyone is invited to become a member of the OHPS to help preserve historic structures for future generations to have a visual glimpse of Opelika’s past.
The Brownfield House is available to rent for parties and events. Anyone interested can call the OHPS at 334.749.0898.
Cipperly can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Following are recipes that were served at the Theater Gala fundraiser Feb. 25, 1987, the Brownfield House Wassail recipe served during the Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour and a sampling of recipes from a few of Opelika’s oldest families.
OHPS Theater Gala Fundraiser
Andy’s Restaurant Fried Chicken
Mushrooms for 40
Chutney Spread in Fresh Pineapple
Andy’s Restaurant Fried Chicken
2 chickens, fryer size
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. white pepper
Wash chicken, roll in mixture of flour, salt and pepper. Let sit in bowl for 10 or 15 minutes.
Preheat grease so it is hot enough for flour to stick to chicken when it is put in fat. (Deep fat fryer is better.)
Cook until well browned. If using a deep fat fryer, do not turn. If not, turn once.
Mushrooms For 40
6 Tbsp. butter
4 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
2 cups sour cream
4 large cans sliced mushrooms
Melt butter, sauté garlic. Add seasonings. Stir in flour and sour cream and mushrooms. Serve in pastry shells or toast points.
1 can condensed tomato soup
Three 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
½ cup cold water
½ cup bell pepper, minced
½ cup onion, minced or grated
½ cup celery, minced
2 lbs. fresh shrimp, cooked, or 3 small cans of shrimp
1 cup mayonnaise
Heat soup and cream cheese. Beat until smooth. Soak gelatin in cold water. Add to soup mixture. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Cool. Add other ingredients. Pour into a greased mold. Refrigerate until firm.
To unmold, place hot cloth on bottom of mold until it loosens. Garnish and serve as desired. Will fill a fish mold.)
White wine vinegar
Cream cheese, room temperature
Pimiento stuffed olives
Marinate sliced cucumbers in white wine vinegar for a couple of hours.
Trim crust from bread. With biscuit cutter, cut bread into circles. Spread softened cream cheese on bread; top with marinated cucumber slices. Top with fresh dill.
To make rolled sandwiches, trim crust from bread and spread with cream cheese. Place stuffed olives down bread; roll up. Moisten ends to seal. Slice to serve.
8 oz. tuna
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup mayonnaise
1 cup chili sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
1 small jar pimientos
2½ Tbsp. water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp. chopped bell pepper
1 Tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. lemon pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. tabasco sauce
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
Blend first seven ingredients. Set aside. In a saucepan, soften and dissolve gelatin in water. Add to first mixture. Fold in remaining ingredients.
Spray Pam in a mold and pour in mixture. Chill until set. Unmold and serve with Triscuits or melba rounds.
If molded in a fish-shaped mold, slice cucumbers into thin slices for “scales” and use an olive for the eye. Serve on a bed of endive or parsley.
Chutney Spread in Fresh Pineapple
Two 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature
1 small bottle chutney, diced
1 tsp. curry powder
Combine all ingredients. Place in hollowed fresh pineapple. Serve with ginger snaps.
Mary Barnes Newman
Boil eggs and halve lengthwise. Put egg yolk in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add mayonnaise and mustard to taste. Mash and put back in whites. Sprinkle paprika over eggs and top with sliced stuffed olives.
Brownfield House Wassail Bowl
Served every year at Opelika’s Victorian Front Porch Christmas Tour
1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (6-oz.) can frozen lemonade
1 (6-oz.) can frozen orange juice
1 Tbsp. whole cloves
1 Tbsp. whole allspice
Cinnamon sticks, optional
Mix cider, sugar, undiluted lemonade. and orange juice; pour into large pot. Tie cloves and allspice in cheese cloth; add to cider mixture; simmer covered, for about 15 minutes.
Remove from burner and discard spice bag. Serve hot in punch cups. Serve a cinnamon stick in each cup, if desired. Serves 24.
Following recipes are from old Opelika families.
From Samford Family
There is no equal to the blackberry wine when properly made, either in flavor or for medical purposes. Every person who can conveniently do so, should manufacture enough for their own use every year. Use it in sickness as a tonic, and nothing is a better remedy for lower intestinal diseases.
We therefore give the recipe for making it, and having tried it ourselves, we speak advisably upon the subject.
Measure your berries and bruise them: To every gallon, add one quart boiling water. Let mixture stand for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
Then strain off the liquor into a cash. For every gallon, add 2 lbs. sugar. Cork tight and let it stand until the following October. You will have wine ready for use that will make your lips smack as they have never smacked under similar influence before.
1 lb. cold boiled ham, sliced very thin
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. black pepper
Dash red pepper
1 tsp. dry horseradish
Milk, enough to make a paste of all above ingredients
Spread slices of ham with seasoned cheese mixture, stack on top of each other until all are used and a loaf is made. Wrap loaf in foil or two thicknesses of heavy wax paper and tie with string. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Leave in wrapper to cool, about 24 hours.
100 Year Old Pound Cake Recipe
1 lb. butter
1 lb. sugar
1 lb. flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
Beat egg yolks and sugar together. Add baking powder to flour and cream flour and butter together. Beat whites to stiff froth. Mix egg yolks and sugar with flour and butter. Add whites. Season to taste (vanilla). Bake rather quickly.
Old Time Brunswick Stew
Ione B. Samford
4 lbs. pork, cut up
½ bottle catsup (2 cups)
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Juice of one lemon
2 cans tomatoes
1 tall can white cream corn
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pork in salted water until it falls apart. Drain. Take away all fat. Add other ingredients and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until all is tender and blended together.
This takes a long time. Taste for more seasoning. Slice lemon after adding juice and put slices in the pot. Serves about 10.
Granny Melton’s Lemon Cheesecake
Evelyn Ingram Melton
“Granny was a marvelous cook and made wonderful cakes. She was really famous for this cake.”
1 cup butter, room temperature
1½ cups sugar
6 egg whites
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 cup buttermilk
½ tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream butter, sugar, add vanilla and beaten egg whites, flour, baking powder and soda. Add buttermilk in thirds and continue to beat until batter is smooth.
Pour into three greased 9-inch pans and bake at 350 (pre-heated) for 30 minutes or until tests done.
1 ½ cups sugar
Grated rind and juice of 1 ½ lemons
8 egg yolks (save 2 whites for frosting)
¾ stick butter
Cream butter and sugar. Add lemon juice and grated rind and cook in double boiler until thickened. Spread cooled filling between layers and on top layer.
1½ cups sugar
¾ cup water
2 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch of paraffin
Boil sugar and water until it spins a fine thread. Add paraffin. Pour over stiffly beaten egg whites, beating constantly. Add vanilla and continue beating until it is stiff enough to hold shape.
Spread on top and sides of cake. Granny said to always add paraffin to frosting because it gives it a glazed look and keeps the frosting soft underneath.