Monday, February 09, 2009

Places I've Lived: Quinlan Castle

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After graduating seminary I moved to Birmingham to start my time with Face to Face, a touring drama team comprised of former seminary folks. I had to stay with Mike for a few days but I found a place pretty quickly. Rebecca was driving me around to look at apartments and we saw Quinlan Castle. I copied the phone number, called them and within days I had an apartment there.
It was such a unique building that I just loved being there. It's very near the Five Points district of Bham, a neighborhood teeming with restaurants, clubs and interesting shops. Even though I loved it, it had some problems. In the cold months, the walls in the bedroom would sweat like crazy. Someone painted the tub with the wrong kind of paint and it was peeling off. The worst was the AC. It was one of those motel types. It worked okay but if you ran it, your electric bill would have been monstrous. I chose not to run it to save money. I stayed hot that summer.
The coolest thing that happened to me while living there was meeting my artist friend Antjuan. He moved in next door. He is black and I only tell you this because it's relevant to the story. One day, he knocked on my door and asked if he could borrow a broom. During the exchange, he saw my easel and asked if I was an artist. He then told me he was an artist too. We spent the rest of that day talking art and showing each other our work. Later he told me that he was afraid to approach me because I looked like a Hell's Angel and usually those people don't like blacks very well. Just the other day he informed me that he almost moved back out of the building at the first sight of me. I'm glad his need for a broom outweighed his fear of my looks. I'm thrilled to have him as a friend. He is such a fantastic artist and a wonderful person.
Unfortunately I didn't stay too much longer after that so we didn't have a ton of time to spend together but the time we did spend was great. We traded art. I have his two paintings hanging in our studio. He told me that someone stole the one I traded to him. I hope they had a truck. That thing was big and heavy.
I stayed in Bham for a year. I decided that it was time to get a youth minister position (why I went to seminary) so I left the group and moved back to Pcola while I searched for a church. I eventually ended up in Columbia, SC. But that's a story for the next installment of Places I've Lived.
Postscript: Quinlan Castle sits empty today. Both Antjuan and I are saddened by this. If we were rich, we would buy the place and turn it into a space for artists with studios and a gallery. And Antjuan wants a ping-pong table in it. So be it.
Update: I just read that the castle has been bought by a research company called SRI. I hope they preserve the look of the building.

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