For many years, the stately tutor home of Julia and Dick Moreman has been a landmark on Tenth Street in Opelika. It has been the setting for joyous parties and friendly football games on the spacious lawn. After a complete renovation, additions and new owners, the lovely home starts a new era in the pages of Opelika history. The land was originally occupied by Indians, who dug the well in the front lawn as a source for water. When Mr. and Mrs. Lee James built the house in 1929-30, they added stones around the base of the well to enhance its appearance. Mrs. James was an architect, while her husband was a contractor. Stone from Chewacla was used in construction. The decorative wrought iron featured inside and outside the house was custom-made for Mrs. James by Robinson Foundry in Alexander City.
Julia and Dick Moreman purchased the house in 1966 from the James family. They raised their three sons, Frazier, Wallace and Richard, who played many football games in the front yard. The Moremans had a love for entertaining and were known for hosting gracious parties. Special guests over the years included Harper Lee’s sister, Broadway star Gary Morris who played the lead in Les Miserables, and a French consul and/British ambassador. Julia remembers that Dick had flags made to welcome the foreign visitors.
In 2014, the Moremans sold the house to Bryan Stone, owner of BC Stone contracting. Stone gutted the interior on both levels and replaced windows. He was able to match the style of window that was original to the house.
In the foyer, the flooring was removed to the dirt in order to replace the older wood rotted by termites. Original floors remained in the living room. Stone redid the interior of the fireplace, adding matching bricks and converting it into a gas-burning fireplace. In the adjoining sunroom, he constructed a wooden ceiling to provide character and added the dentil molding back. Floors were laced to match the living room. A decorative, diagonal coffer ceiling was affixed in the dining room. A wrought iron chandelier hangs over a round antique table overlooking the front lawn. Stone widened the doorways going into the dining room to provide a more open look. French pocket doors were inserted between the dining room and office, which was the original breakfast room.
In the office, heart pine from Pepperell mill was repurposed for creating handsome cabinets in the office. The office opens to the screened sun porch with ornate wrought iron trim. A red brick floor and a bed swing overflowing with cushions create a cozy spot for morning coffee. Stone removed the den on the back of the house to create a roomy, stunning kitchen. Between the dining room and kitchen, Stone built a butler’s pantry using heart pine wood from the mill.
The kitchen is striking with white and grey granite countertops, cabinets with an aged appearance and a towering wooden hood over the stove.For convenience, a pot filler was added over the 47-inch professional gas stovetop with a backsplash of handmade subway tiles. A deep farmhouse sink was placed in the oversized island. A unique chandelier from Scott’s Antiques hangs over an antique kitchen table, completing the look of a cook’s dream kitchen.
A mudroom and a laundry room were built in the space of the original gallery kitchen. The laundry room offers plenty of space for folding clothes. The second set of stairs to the upper floor was eliminated. Since the house didn’t have a master on the first flour, Stone built a master bedroom wing. A cushioned seat provides a comfortable spot for relaxing with the afternoon sun streaming in from the window. The adjoining master bath is luxurious with matching marble sinks, a footed soaking tub and spacious marble shower. The bath leads to a huge dressing closet.
Bedrooms upstairs were updated. Carpet was removed to reveal hardwood floors. Stone designed and built a spacious outdoor area for entertaining with a brick wood-burning fireplace. The mantel was made from heart pine from the mill. An infinity pool and a bathhouse were constructed on the lower level. Massive magnolias on the grounds add to the gorgeous setting. Stone took one year and two months to complete the renovation and additions. He worked with a decorator to create the neutral color palette throughout the house. After all the work, he is pleased with the house and especially enjoys living there, as it offers an outdoor look for each season with a screened porch and sunroom. The beautiful house starts a new chapter with Stone and his bride Ryann. “It’s a great place to have people over,” says Stone, as it will once again be filled with laughter and good times. “My family is very thrilled and appreciative of everything Bryan has done,” says Julia. “We hope he and Ryann have as many happy years there as we did.”
An award winning journalist, Ann Cipperly has been writing features, as well as food, travel and restaurant articles for East Alabama Living since 2004. She is a former newspaper lifestyle and food editor and currently writes features and a food column for the Opelika Observer. Ann is a native Opelikan.