0610 Bear's Legacy
Paul and Mary Harmon Bryant, Averette and Julian Lackey.
Much of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s life was public. After breaking the record for career victories by a college football head coach, Bryant called himself a tired old man who never got tired of football. That we know is true.
He also never got tired of visiting his good friends, Julian and Averette Lackey. The Lackey Family, a prominent Birmingham family of entrepreneurs and owners of Ridout’s Funeral Homes, Birmingham Barons and Lackey Floral, owned an estate on Cherokee Road for more than 60 years. The estate was a favorite of Bryant who routinely visited and shared some southern comfort with his close friend. Bryant would visit Lackey on Sunday afternoons following a Tide victory (or loss) and they truly became Sunday morning quarterbacks.
The estate is situated on a 2 1⁄2 acre gently sloping lot on the corner of Cherokee Road and Overcrest Road. The home boasts a unique concrete tile roof, seven bedrooms, six full baths, indoor pool/spa, 1 1⁄4 red oak hardwood floors throughout, a huge living room with high ceilings, original fireplaces, bay windows, true divided light single pane windows, large sun room, horizontal resawn pine lumber siding and more to come.
The home is being restored (and not remodeled) by G&B/DMI Joint Venture to its original prominence. Michael Davis Sr. and his partner Jim Browning, aided by development. They are Office Park, Canterbury Gardens Apartments, and Redmont Gardens Apartments.
Renowned architect, Ed Bailey and designer Lisa DeCarlo, have more than 50 years of combined experience in commercial and residential restoration. “It is a journey, not a destination for us. We are here all the time together working hard and have yet to have an argument. It has been a wonderful partnership,” Davis said. “We love being here and working on a house with so much history. We have found the original craftsmen’s old liquor bottles, a 1952 Barons Baseball Program and other secrets tucked behind walls and cabinets.”
Davis bought the estate in November 2009 initially for his daughter and since then has spent more time there then he would like to admit. They are adding an entertainment/carriage house style pavilion in the back of the home. Davis said finding a roof to match the original was a challenge, but they got it done. “The concrete shingles weigh a lot, so by the time we finish the roof on the carriage house it will weigh almost three tons,” Davis said. They have also replaced all the casement windows to match the original design. The new guest parking brick lined motor court at the front door entrance will increase parking without taking away from the landmark home. Davis and Browning modified the existing garage for a larger vehicle and added a storage area. There are several other planned improvements to the estate including new central air conditioning, underground power and a standby generator.
When Bryant finally retired, he didn’t receive an opportunity to enjoy life away from the game, if that were possible for him. He died 28 days after coaching his last game. His memory still lives on in the hearts and minds of many people in our community. The Lackey Estate is just one example.