For release on or after October 28, 2006
IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK
New Book Gives Voice to University of Alabama President's Mansion
TUSCALOOSA, AL-When Mary Mathews, wife of former University of Alabama
President David Mathews, began collecting stories about the president's
mansion, she had no idea how far the task would take her. During her
husband's tenure as president (1969-1980), she and her family delighted
in learning about past residents, and she wanted to share those tales
with the thousands of visitors who passed through the house each year.
But she struggled when attempting to write them all down into a coherent
whole. Until she fell upon the idea of allowing the mansion itself to
serve as narrator. And thus was born A Mansion's Memories.
First published in 1980, the book was well-received. The Chattanooga
News-Free Press called it "amusing, informative, delightful," adding
"Mathews [has an] easy-to-read, down-to-earth style." The Tuscaloosa
News praised her, saying "Mathews has done an excellent job in putting
on paper the lore of the house she so obviously learned to love."
Alabama Living observed that "the mansion has watched history for more
than a century," and "Mathews tells its story with sensitivity and
insight that come only from having been a part of its inner circle."
But despite rave reviews and strong sales, the book never made it into a
second printing. A fire at the publishing house that produced it made
that impossible. So the book went out of print, and faded from memory.
In connection with The University of Alabama's 175th anniversary, The
University of Alabama Press is pleased to announce the republication of
A Mansion's Memories. Handsomely illustrated with 69 black-and-white
and 17 full color photographs-many of the latter by celebrated
photographer Chip Cooper-the volume is available just in time for
A better brief history of the university cannot be found. The opening
chapter tells of President Basil Manly's attention to detail-and of his
two sets of diaries, one public and one private. Then follows the
celebrated story of how President Landon C. Garland's wife, Louise,
saved the house from burning by Union troops in the waning days of the
Civil War. Though the dark years following the war when the university
nearly closed, the student unrest in the early twentieth century over
the military system then in place, and the phenomenal growth during
George H. Denny's presidency (1911-1936 and 1941-1942), the mansion has
been a constant presence on campus.
This new edition includes two new chapters covering the last twenty-six
years and the last four presidents: Joab Langston Thomas (1981-1988),
Earl Roger Sayers (1988-1996), Andrew Aaron Sorensen (1996-2002), and
Robert Ernest Witt (2003-present). Prominently featured is the ongoing
strengthening of various university programs and its role in the
community under each of these leaders, and the extensive renovations of
the Mansion during the Sayers presidency, when the house celebrated its
Completed in 1841, the president's mansion is now not only a symbol of
the university, but of the state itself. A Mansion's Memories is a
must-have for any graduate-or for any friend of Alabama.
# # #
A Mansion's Memories
Revised edition * by Marhy Chapman Mathews * New Photographs by Chip
Cooper * Publication date: October 22, 2006
86 illustrations including a 16-page color insert * 160 pages * 7" x
10" * ISBN 0-8173-1535-7 * $24.95 hardcover
To order, contact the Chicago Distribution Center * 773-702-7000 *
For additional information, contact: Elizabeth Motherwell *
* direct line: 205-348-7108