Birmingham resident Bruce Dunbar searched far and wide for hunting land to call his own. Five years ago he found what he was looking for in a spot just outside of Selma known as the Todd Place. After buying up a total of 2,600 acres, with low lands for duck hunting, two 20 acre lakes for trophy bass and brim fishing and plenty of forests and fields for deer and turkey hunting, it was time to have a house on the property that Bruce, his wife Ida and their family and friends could enjoy.
The Dunbars built a new log cabin and enlisted the help of Trissy Holladay at Seibels to select modern amenities and comfortable, rustic touches for the home and Southland Log Homes to customize a floor plan to fit the Dunbar’s needs. A four-bedroom, three-and- a-half bath cabin with a spacious great room, an open kitchen and a porch that encircles the entire structure resulted. Note: The Dunbars purchased a Caroline I log home plan.
Once the logs were in place, Bruce counted on contractors and craftsmen from Birmingham and Selma to add an aged character to the new construction. Reclaimed heart pine floor boards – 12 inches wide – from a building in Fort Payne, a 40-foot stone chimney and antique oak kitchen cabinets resembling weathered barn doors and a warm feel to the new structure. Holladay helped the Dunbars select natural materials – slate tile, copper sinks and counter top, granite and oil-rubbed bronze fixtures and hardware to complete the look. Up-to-date amenities are also seamlessly incorporated into the home’s design. One example is a built in beverage center which appears to be a free-standing buffet but actually conceals two small refrigerators.
When it came time to furnish the home, the folks at Seibels knew just what to do. For years, they’ve searched out the craftsmen from around the southeast to create custom furnishings such as the ones found in the Dunbars cabin. Headboards and bed side tables made from reclaimed wood and architectural pieces, hickory chairs with caning, a dining table made from antique beams and a gun case made from antique heart pine are just a few of the custom pieces found in the log home. In keeping with the casual feel, denim and utility canvas comforters, burlap bed skirts and vintage ticking details were used fro bedding along with old Adirondack camp blankets for color and added warmth. Antler sconces, an antler mirror and, of course, the five-by-five-foot cascade antler chandelier in the great room add an updated, hunting lodge feel. Holladay also incorporated a collection of prints that have been in Ida’s family for years, depicting famous American Indian chiefs, along with the obligatory collection of prized deer heads, a turkey and even a beaver and otter into the décor.
The Dunbars delight in inviting family and friends to hunt, ride four wheelers and enjoy their new get away. They even hosted an extended family Thanksgiving dinner last November. But Bruce is quick to note, “The cabin was built for family and friends to enjoy, but everything done on the property has been carefully done to enhance and preserve wildlife.” Westervelt Wildlife Services, out of Tuscaloosa, advises the Dunbars on wildlife management. They’ve planted sawtooth oaks and fruit trees, chufa and other plants to improve wildlife and hunting on the property. Management of the lakes proved a success when Bruce caught a 14-pound bass last year.
The Dunbars know that they bring the next chapter in the rich history of their property. As is the case with much of the Black Belt, the land has seen many uses over the years. In just the last hundred years or so, it has been farmed for cotton, cattle and catfish. There are reminders of the days when Creek Indians inhabited the area. “We’ve found allot of Indian relics on the property, arrowheads and grinding stones,” says Bruce. “Anytime we clear something and it rains, you can find arrowheads.” An old farm road, once used to carry cotton to market, winds its way through the property. There’s a 40 acre pecan orchard with trees planted before the Great Depression and grayed, wood farmhouses are scattered throughout. Now the Dunbars have made their own mark on the property, building a home, and preserving the land for generations to come.