Local authors encourage historic preservation
Nov 09, 2012 (Opelika-Auburn News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Noble Hall is opening to the public Sunday from 2-4 p.m. for a signing by two of the authors of the new book "Lost Auburn: A village remembered in period photographs."
Written by Ralph Draughon Jr., Delos Hughes and Ann Pearson, the book depicts long-lost buildings from fraternity houses to movie theaters, gin houses, schools, churches and more, through rare photographs and descriptions dating back to the 1840s.
Pearson, a member of the Historic Preservation Commission, said she was inspired to work on the book because of her passion about historic preservation in Auburn.
"Our hope is that more people in town will feel better about preservation, instead of just leveling everything and putting up a brick box," she said. "We want to show what was here and call attention to preserving what's here now."
The idea for the book started over three years ago, after a project Pearson and Draughon worked on together.
"Originally the book was Hughes' idea," Pearson said. "The idea evolved out of a program that [Draughon] and I gave to the Auburn Heritage Association years ago, in which we did a PowerPoint program on old structures that had been destroyed in Auburn. After that, the three of us started talking about a book."
Even after extensive research and work, Pearson said they weren't sure the book would come to fruition.
"We didn't think we'd get anybody to publish it," Pearson said. "[Hughes] made up a really nice draft on his computer and showed it to New South, and they said immediately they would publish it."
Pearson, 71, Draughon, 76, and Hughes, 78, are all Auburn natives and all graduates of Auburn High School. Pearson said they had seen so many old structures taken down during their lifetimes that they wanted remembered in the book.
"What we did to start with was we put out the word in various ways that we wanted old pictures of houses and buildings and whatever that were no longer standing," she said. "Of course we got a good response from some people and nothing from another. But we sure got enough; we still have on file hundreds of pictures."
Pearson said most of the pictures in the book have never been published or seen by the general public. She said each of the authors took a category to focus on and research.
"We divided it into several sections," she said. "[Draughon] did the university, [Hughes] did the churches and some businesses, I did the Auburn schools, both black and white, and beer joints."
Pearson said Hughes, who spends most of the year at his home in Lexington, Va., was an essential part of the research and compilation of the information they found.
"He is a wiz with the computer," Pearson said. "He can do anything. He did all the technological parts, plus research and everything else. I would say who put the most time and energy into the book was [Hughes]. Not that the rest of us didn't bear our share."
Pearson said she is very pleased with how the book turned out. She said the hardcover, book sleeve and high-quality paper exceeded their expectations.
The book retails at $30 and will be sold at local bookstores and some boutiques, including Books-a-Million, J&M Bookstore, Anders Bookstore, Big Blue Bookstore, The Villager and Auburn Art.
It will be available for purchase Sunday at Noble Hall on Shelton Mill Road, and Draughon and Pearson will be present for signing.
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