Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch helps sustain historic Tuscaloosa property

Mardi Gras Jazz Brunch helps sustain historic Tuscaloosa property

Photo courtesy of Kasey Hullet

Purple, green and gold beads, masks with feathers and jazzy music to tap your feet to-- that's how the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society plans to celebrate their 50th year in operation.

The third annual jazz brunch takes place from 10 a.m. until noon on Feb. 6 at the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion. New Orleans-style food will be locally catered and served in a buffet. Gouda cheese grits, shrimp, bread pudding, beignets, king cake and coffee among many other items are expected to be served. Visitors are encouraged to wear Mardi Gras costumes and bring dancing shoes. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under.

“Laissez les bon temps rouler, you know, let the good times roll,” said Ian Crawford, house manager of the Jemison Mansion. “We hope that people come out and have a good time.”

The TCPS is a non-profit organization that advocates the history of Tuscaloosa. First, it maintains five historic buildings: The Old Tavern, The McGuire-Strickland House, The Battle Friedman House, The Murphy-Collins House and the Drish House. Second, the society hosts lecture series on all things involving local Tuscaloosa history. Third, the society operates a community outreach program through the Tuscaloosa Belles. Proceeds from the jazz brunch will go to preserving the properties.

“There will be beads and masks here, tables over there, and the food line will stretch from this room to the other,” said Katherine Richter, Executive Director of the TCPS, as she pictures the event in her mind. “Not only will this event be a ton of fun, but people can learn about the house and see the gallery as well.”

If one takes a step into the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion this is what might be there. A pearly white doorknob hangs on two worn wooden doors. A first step immediately gives off a creak and ornate pictures hang on the seemingly elongated walls. A chandelier hangs from an adjoining room, acting like a glow in the high ceilinged space. In another room, a laced tablecloth lies on the antique dining room table. Tall crystal glasses glint and clouded plates shine against the soft light. The creaks will follow you like a reminder of how many walked these same halls before.

“A long time ago a Buick dealership tried to tear down the Jemison mansion to make more room for their lot. They were close to doing it. When they found out they couldn’t, they were embarrassed,” said Richter. “I hope people that come to the mansion see that it is a fantastic example of history that should be celebrated.”

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