Text by Rebecca Brennan
The city of Fairhope was founded in 1894 as a utopian single-tax colony. The town became a fashionable winter destination for artists and intellectuals, among them writers such as Upton Sinclair and Sherwood Anderson. In more recent times, the location attracted another prominent artist known simply as Nall, who purchased a residence on the Bay.
Enter Marilyn and Paul Ellis. While enjoying a local Christmas parade in Fairhope with a longtime friend, the couple shared their interest in acquiring a home in the town. With children and grandchildren nearby, it seemed an ideal spot. As the fates would have it, the friend just so happened to know a local realtor who also was a friend of Nall.
The realtor placed a call to Nall who was spending most of his time in France—and the rest, as they say, is history. Within three months of that propitious Christmas parade meeting, the house became the treasured property of the Ellis family.
To suit the house to entertaining family and friends, as well as making it a comfortable place to host church and community functions, Marilyn and Paul worked with talented architect, Lea Verneuille, to customize the house before moving in. “Lea is a genius,” Marilyn makes clear. Some of the changes the team made to the existing structure included increasing the size of the living and dining rooms, adding a wing to the left side of the house, and expanding to the right with a master bedroom suite.