“When we got there, this place was a hot mess,” says Hillworks principal architect and homeowner David Hill, who had moved to Auburn, Ala., to work as an assistant professor in Auburn University’s graduate landscape architecture program.
The structure, built during the 1920s — in what was referred to in historical documents as a “colored neighborhood” — had lived a full life, almost always housing at least four businesses including, at times, a pool hall, a honky tonk, a restaurant, a church, a barbershop, a furniture store, and a construction warehouse. Hill was undeterred by the building’s termite damage, leaking roof, and wood rot: “The bones were wonderful, and it had great overall character,” he says.
His vision was to create a unique space that would fit his aesthetic sensibilities and function as a warm, inviting home for his wife and three young children.
The building faces busy, commercial Bragg Ave. on one side and a partially residential street on the other. Owner architect David Hill moved the entry to the quieter street but, after cleaning, kept the rest of the exterior intact, including the wooden awning, which still awaits a full restoration.