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:
Visit Southern Accents online to sign up for their newsletter and in person:
308 Second Ave SE
Cullman, AL 35055
email@example.com / 877-737-0544
Throw on our Antique Archaeology “Sweet Pickin’” dark heather grey t-shirt on your next walk about town!
16 thoughts on “Family Owned Southern Salvage”
I love Southern Accents! Thank you for showcasing them and their amazing work. I have been a fan for many years. I still regret selling my last home….only because of the gorgeous French doors from Mobile (wavy glass and gorgeous wood) which were salvaged by Southern Accents. The hardward came from their shop also. My new home has some iron pieces that I picked from their iron yard and put together as a sculptural piece. And the giant State of Alabama flag from salvaged lumber they did for last year’s SouthernMakers event was breathtaking.
Interesting and fascinating!
Love the article about Southern Accents, but Cullman really isn’t as small as you suggest. 40,000+ people isn’t blink and miss it size. Our city is growing by leaps and bounds. Come visit some more, see it all!!!
Only if you are our tour guide, Jeanette. 😉
A little error on your page…..”It would take a few days to some 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. ”
I think you meant “sum up”. See…..I do read every word and look at every picture. Some day soon……I have to visit!!
J N Painter
Thanks!! That one slipped past us.
Pingback: American Pickers Meets Southern Accents | SA1969 Blog
Really cool shop,love the wall. I live in NE Montana, planning doing a living room wall with old pallet boards. I have access to unlimited numbers of pallets at a local lumber yard,even part of the floo. IF I can convince my wife it would be cool.
Loving and appreciative people living a beautiful and loving life.
When you program was off air here for a couple of weeks, I sincerely felt as if I was missing important members of my family.
Maybe a trip to the neon museum in Las Vegas?
And I just KNOW you find some good picking out around Pahrump, or maybe Boulder City, the best by a ‘dam site’ or the area around Laughlin, Nevada, just across the river from Lake Havasu City – the river where they have the original London Bridge?
Pick on, pickers!
Talk about a honey hole! The neon is amazing… when can we go? Thanks for the heads up, Bruce!
Will visit on our next trip to visit kids in Franklin.
Visited Southern Accents a few years back. It was AMAZING! I could have spent days there if only time had allowed. There were so many beautiful items in every area we walked through. I hope to return in the near future. I admire their commitment to saving so much of the history that others would let waste away or be destroyed. One thing I love to do as we travel is look at the differences in architecture & design differences throughout our fantastic country. Southern Accents is definitely worth a detour, but plan on a few days spent in Cullman!
Isn’t it amazing, Connie? We wish we were exploring Southern Accents right this second. So many treasures.
Pingback: American Pickers Meets Southern Accents – Recycled Woodworking & Iron
I definitely want to stop in there! We pass by Cullman on our way to FL each year. Did not know this wonderful place was there. Starting a new home next Spring, God willing, and would love to find some interesting things for it. A stop is in order! Thank you for sharing this with us all.