By Madoline Markham
Photos by Lindsey Drennan
If you were to travel back to the first half of the twentieth century, you might meet the Donnelly family at either their stately home on Highland Avenue in Birmingham or their hunting lodge in the country. They spent weekends and vacations out at the lodge on the Cahaba River hunting, fishing, distilling liquor and gathering friends who had cabins on the property that surrounded theirs.
Today only one of those cabins remains, but the 1928 lodge still sits in its bucolic glory, now nestled behind the Walmart on John Hawkins Parkway. The Donnelly family sold it to Dr. Arthur Ludwig, a doctor at UAB, in the 1970s, and he added on a wing of bedrooms and living areas full of ornate details. With the addition, four levels cascade down the hill to the left of the home’s entryway toward the Cahaba River, giving each of the bedrooms a view of the river from its own level with its own balcony. Altogether the cozy lodge of a home has 10,000 square feet and is unlike any of the other homes in the Cahaba River Estates around it.
When the Patel family bought the home and the 8 acres that surround it in 2020 with real estate agent Mo Deeb, they wanted to preserve the lodge’s originality while modernizing it with elements of their more contemporary style. To brighten up rooms that often felt like a cave, they put up sheetrock over some rock walls, knocked down walls that closed off some rooms and brought in lots of white paint.
Working with Scandanavian Design & Leather Gallery owner Theresa Thornton, Tanveer Patel selected an eclectic mix of contemporary furnishings and art that connect with the elements of the rustic hunting lodge that still remain, blending Tanveer’s style with the home’s heritage.
In keeping with the Indian tradition of joint family, Tanveer and her husband, Maqbool, both entrepreneurs, share the home with their younger son Ozair, an engineering student, and their older son and daughter-in-law, Adil Patel and Haniya Halim, a software engineer and resident physician in psychiatry, respectively. The family calls the house “Aashiyana,” which means “home” in Urdu language—the same name Tanveer’s father gave her family’s home.
Perhaps more than anything, the lodge (as it’s still known in the neighborhood) continues riverside respite amongst nature to all who drive up almost 100 years into its life. “You are in the city, but it feels like you are in the country,” Tanveer says.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Judy Hall Collins, a realtor and Cahaba River Estates resident, for sharing information on this home’s history for this article.
A long hand finished black ebony Caracole table from Scandanavian Design & Leather Gallery blends the home’s dark stone with the white elements of its interior design.
Two half moon sofas from Scandanavian Design & Leather Gallery face each other in this spacious room that opens to the dining room, offering plenty of seating for both entertaining and enjoying the space with their family. The abstract paintings behind one of them add a bright pop of color to the room too.
Outdoor Living Area
This spacious deck above the garage offers a retreat of a space overlooking the property’s lake. Rebecca Kinney designed the greenery for the space and the surrounding yard.
The large vent hood above the kitchen’s new island harkens back to the home’s days as a hunting lodge, while the new metallic accents and white countertops are representative of the more modern, glamorous elements the Patels have brought to the home.
Glass flowers greet visitors on the ceiling when you enter the home, with white and gold artwork that brightening up the area that is visible from the living room as well.
Tanveer wanted each bedroom to feature a different accent color, and this space for guests pops with coral lamps, pillows and art.
The massive ornate tub in this master space was installed when Dr. Arthur Ludwig added onto the home in the second half of the twentieth century. Adjacent to it the Patels brought in more contemporary tile and mirrors in the vanity area.