History of the Halliday Cary Pick House

Built in 1840's, the Halliday Cary Pick House is one of the oldest remaining homes in the City of Auburn and is located at 360 North College Street. The Greek Revival-style raised cottage, was erected on a tract land bought from a member of the Creek Nation in 1839, and is constructed of handmade brick and hand-hewn virgin heart pine. Four square columns highlight the front of the house, set on the original wood gallery.

Matthew Turner, a prosperous landowner, commissioned James W. Kidd, a builder, to construct the house as a wedding present for his son and bride. The newlyweds decided that they wanted to live in Talladega and Turner sold the house to an owner who lived there only two years until it was sold to Dickinson Halliday, a planter from Georgia. Halliday lived there with his family for forty-three years.

Dr. Charles Allen Cary, founding Dean of Auburn University's College of Veterinary Medicine purchased the house in 1897 and members of the Cary family lived in the house until 2006 when Dr. Cary's daughter, Alice Cary Pick Gibson, died at age 101.

The design of the house is symmetrical. Beginning with two parlors in the front, each room is balanced against a similar room on the opposite side. The dramatic features of the house are the wide doorways which allowed the ladies to enter without marring their wide hoop skirts; the open fireplace in every room with the original mantels; and the most unique feature of the house, the centrally located, hanging spiral staircase. Constructed by hand of mahogany, the staircase has no visible means of support; it has no center post and does not rest on any wall. It was built, when the house was under construction, by an itinerant French carpenter who was on his way to New Orleans. Architects have marveled at the design of the 360-degree turn of the staircase which rests on its own pedestal base.

Lt. General and Mrs. Lewis Andrew Pick (nee Alice Cary) returned in Auburn in the early 1950's and renovated the house while not disturbing the historic integrity of the structure. Plaster was removed from all the walls revealing hand hewn wood studs. New electrical wiring, plumbing and heat/air-conditioning were added before the walls were plastered again. Two layers of narrow wood flooring were removed to reveal the original wide pure board floors. Bathrooms were added in the restoration process but the space for them was taken from the large bedrooms. The footprint of the house has not changed from that of the original structure. The necessary renovations were made so as to leave intact the original atmosphere of the house.

In addition to being a house for the aforementioned families, the house was used as a hospital by Confederate troops during the Civil War and later the attic was converted to a dormitory for Dr. Cary's veterinary medicine students.

Because of its structural integrity, the Halliday Cary Pick home was selected by the Advisory Committee of the Historic American Building Survey as possessing exceptional historic or architectural interest and being worthy of most careful preservation for the benefit of the future generations. This record and condition has been deposited for permanent reference in the Library of Congress.