If you’re traveling down South, just before you hit Birmingham, is the small town of Cullman, Alabama. It’s clear by the gigantic billboards advertising alongside the interstate that Southern Accents Architectural Antiques is quite an attraction that happens to be nestled in a beautiful, historic building right in the middle of downtown. Tip: Don’t fiddle with your radio while you’re driving thru Cullman, or you’ll pass it.
Southern Accents was established in 1969 when Dr. Garlan Gudger Sr. began rescuing architectural elements from buildings in Cullman that were slated to be demolished. Never realizing his desire to rescue antique building materials would one day flourish into one of the largest architectural antique stores in the nation, Dr. Gudger consistently did what he loved – rescuing, restoring and protecting architectural salvage. The rest of the story goes that before the shop was opened, Garlan Sr.’s collection started spreading out of the house and into the garage. Word gets around in a small town, and it wasn’t long before neighbors and lookie-loos began stopping by on Saturdays to shop and see what they could find. One Saturday, Dot (Garlan Sr.’s wife and Garlan Jr.’s mom) found a couple of ladies shopping. There was one small problem – They were shopping and picking through her stuff! As quick as Dot could say, “Get out!!”, a new business was born.
Garlan Jr., Dr. Gudger’s son, now owns and runs the business with his sister Joy and wife, Heather – along with 12 employees. It would take a few days to sum up what this close-knit staff does as there is a full-time and quite expansive (to the tune of over 46,000 square feet) full-service wood shop, restoration shop, lumberyard, and retail shop. All projects, including their business of lumber and custom orders, are done in house. In fact it’s so “in house” Garlan and Heather live in a restored loft just above the shop with their two sons.
Southern Accents has extended their store to a small campus. Located on the same block is an iron lot full of antique iron, claw foot tubs and pedestal sinks and just down from the iron lot is a garden lot stocked with urns, benches, fountains, stonework and more. Lastly, very close to St. Bernard Abbey (Side Note: This is the historic Benedictine Monastery in Cullman, which opened in 1892. Be sure to visit the Ave Maria Grotto while you’re there!) you will arrive at the salvaged wood warehouse, housed in what used to be a school gymnasium.
Recently, Garlan Jr. was in our neck of the woods working with Mike on a custom project at his property in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee. A Morton Building was just completed to store all of Mike’s personal collection of picks and motorcycles. We are not kidding when we tell you there were antique Harleys in the kitchen before this building was built… just ask Mike’s wife, Jodi! Mike wanted something salvalged and unique to match the picker-patina aesthetic throughout the building. Working with the salvaged wood that Mike hand picked, Southern Accents covered the interior back wall of the office with re-milled quarter sawn white oak. The ceiling was dressed with antique beadboard and the floor was a mixture of stained and painted white oak. The exterior wall of the office was wrapped with reclaimed lumber in a kaleidoscope of gorgeous colors. Once installed, the wood was finished with two coats of linseed oil. Mike summed up the look with one word: “Sexy.”
See for yourself:
308 Second Ave SE
Cullman, AL 35055
firstname.lastname@example.org / 877-737-0544
Speaking of Alabama, our paper coasters are pressed there, too. Support USA made!