When Becky Griffin was a child, the building that is now the Aljerald Powers Memorial Lodge was an object of curiosity for students in Winterboro.
“I went to school there for 12 years and it sat across the road,” she said. “The kids always talked about that old building out there. It was covered in kudzu and stuff.”
These days, as a member of the Plank Road Station Society, Griffin is part of an effort to restore the building. The Society’s aim is to convert the lodge into a community center, educational outreach facility, art gallery and museum.
The Society will look to raise more funds for the effort Nov. 22 when it plays host to the sixth Plank Road Station/Aljerald Powers Memorial Lodge Art Extravaganza. The event will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there is no charge for admission. All proceeds go toward the restoration effort.
Griffin said the Extravaganza is an important event for the Society.
“It’s one of our best for community involvement, getting people familiar with our building and what we’re trying to do down there,” she said.
A variety of artists and entertainers will be featured. Vendors will sell crafts, handmade jewelry, locally grown produce, etc.
Among the artists and craftsmen schedule to participate are Hugh O’Neal (wood carving), Roger Vandermaelen (chair caning) and Joe and Kelly Williams (pottery).
The day will be filled with music. Dean McConatha, Roger Vines, Tommy Bounds, Cabot Barden, Ricky Haynes, Jean Baxley, Alyson Carden and Gary “Thunderwolf” Soyars are all scheduled to perform.
And be sure to bring your appetite.
Food options will include jelly biscuits ($1.50), sausage biscuits ($2), barbecue plates with baked beans, potato salad, barbecue bread and a dessert ($9), and nachos both with ($7) and without ($6) meat. Tea will be served for free.
Baked goods will also be available.
Greg Starnes, of Fort Payne, will be the featured author. He will be selling and autographing his books.
The building, originally known as the Winterboro Masonic Lodge, was constructed in 1921 and located near the intersection of current Alabama highways 21 and 76. The lodge continued to play host to Masonic meetings until 1957.
In 2002, the state historical commission approached the Winterboro Educational Foundation about saving and restoring the building, which was in the path of the widening of Highway 21 South.
The Foundation decided to take on the project, and the lodge was moved to its current location at 22585 Alabama Highway 21 in Alpine in September 2003.
Following the move, the lodge was named in memory of A.J. Powers, a lifelong resident of Winterboro who had provided direction to all phases of the relocation.
Children of former masons have helped develop a history of the building, and Griffin said the Society is always looking for people who have more information to contribute.
Griffin said the Art Extravaganza has gained in popularity every year, and commitments from vendors and artists for the 2014 event are at an all-time high.
“It can only mean that we’re doing something right and we’re offering something to the community that they enjoy,” Griffin said.
She said that while efforts to restore the lodge continue, no date for finishing the project has been established.
“It all comes back to money,” she said. “We’ve had people who have been generous enough to give us donations. Our senator and representative have been helping … giving us donations when they can. We just work on a daily basis doing what we can.”
And, Griffin said, that effort has had its rewards.
“It’s just been a work of love to see it come to life,” she said of the building.
PICK UP: Those who have ordered turkeys, turkey breasts or turkey butts from the Society can pick them up at the Extravaganza. The pre-sale continues until Nov. 10, and anyone wishing to order should call Griffin at 256-362-9375 and leave a message. The items are $35 apiece.