A historic treasure stands outside of the heart of downtown Auburn, where visitors are welcomed into the Auburn community with Southern hospitality and rich history of the Loveliest Village on the Plains.
Auburn’s North College Street Historic District holds stories of Auburn’s earliest ancestors and events. One of these historic buildings is The Crenshaw Guest House, which is now a bed and breakfast.
The buildings in the North College Street Historic District were constructed between 1848 and 1937. These homes hold architectural and historic importance in their Victorian style.
The Crenshaw Guest House was built in 1890 by Dr. Bolling Hall Crenshaw. Crenshaw practiced law and was an esteemed circuit judge before becoming director of mathematics at the Alabama Polytechnical Institute for 30 years. Crenshaw County in Alabama was named in his honor.
Crenshaw reportedly met in his house for tea with Dean Cliff Hare, his colleague, who was a member of Auburn’s first football team. Jordan-Hare stadium is named in Hare’s honor.
The house remained in the Crenshaw family until 1942 when the Hardie family bought it. The home was named the ‘Crenshaw-Hardie House’ when they applied for a listing on the national register of historic homes.
Ninety years after the house was first built, Dean Cliff Hare’s granddaughter and her husband– Fran and Peppie Verna– bought the house and worked to restore its original beauty.
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It was 1985 when the Vernas’ house transformation was up to par with the Department of Interior guidelines, and the Crenshaw Guest House was first turned into the bed and breakfast that it is today.
The Crenshaw Guest House can host 33 guests comfortably, with 8 different suites or rooms that are available for individual bookings. Each room is named after notable Auburn characters, such as George Petrie and William Samford.
When guests arrive at Crenshaw Guest House, they are welcomed with homemade cookies and granola and are shown to their individual suite. Their bathrooms are filled with custom shampoos, conditioners and soaps.
In addition to the four bedrooms located inside of the main house, there are three separate cottages dispersed throughout the spacious backyard, where each maple tree originated from the yard of Pat Dye.
Jennifer Nunnelley, the owner of the Crenshaw Guest House, says that her guests quickly become like family.
Many guests are returners and consistently stay at the Victorian house while their son or daughter is at Auburn University, she said.
“Once they stay here, they usually come back,” said Nunnelley.
Guests commune in the dining room each morning over homemade breakfast cooked by Crenshaw’s innkeeper. These meals allow guests to fellowship with one another.
“We have families that come for weddings or family reunions, and they will book the whole house,” said Nunnelley. “But sometimes the room is filled with people who come in strangers to each other, but leave as friends.”
Even with the presence of coronavirus, families are still excited to stay at Crenshaw Guest House during football weekends. Nunnelley said that they are planning to have an inflatable screen to project games in the yard, as well as using a tailgate caterer that was already scheduled for a regular season game.
Crenshaw Guest House also houses University guests, such as visitors to Auburn’s physics department or artists who are installing their work at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art.
Nunnelley said the guests who stay at the Crenshaw Guest House are some of the nicest people that she has ever met. When a returning family comes for graduation, she and the family share bittersweet feelings, as it is possibly their last time needing to stay at Crenshaw Guest House.
“Without this house, I would have never come across these friends that I now keep in touch with,” said Nunnelley.
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