The Harmony Club was originally built in 1909 and was operated as a social club by the Jewish community of Selma, Alabama. It is situated on a high bank that overlooks the Alabama River. The project was then headed by B.J. Schuster, a prominent merchant and later the President of the Harmony Men’s Club. The 20,000 square foot layout of the Harmony Club was given use according to the floor; the first floor operated as two retail spaces, the second floor was a restaurant up front and a Men’s Lounge in the back. The Men’s Lounge was off limits to the public back then; it had a pool table, poker games, slot machines, cigar chomping and of course the wives were never allowed, nonetheless “ladies” were occasionally allowed. The third floor operated as a ballroom that over the decades experienced many dances and parties. The club functioned for several years non-stop till in the late 1930’s it turned into the Elks Club, where it eventually disbanded in the 1960’s and the building boarded up.
Hurlbut who is now 47 first saw the property a decade ago, he immediately knew that it was what he had been searching for. He envisioned the completed building and saw beyond the then current state of the building. “The building’s sole inhabitants were a flock of pigeons that left behind what he estimates to be about 140 cubic yards of guano. There was no plumbing, and the electrical wiring was in shambles,” he said. Still, he knew he’d found his home. “I thought it would be a perfect clubhouse for me,” he said. “It’s probably a guy thing.” After a small number of visits he purchased the property for a little less than $100,000.
David Hurlbut who works as an industrial designer and an architectural consultant saw things differently due to the nature of his work and his experience. It took him nearly two years to make Harmony Club a “remotely habitable by most people’s standards”. So far, ten years down the road he spent nearly $150,000 and has taken great care to preserve the architectural details.
The second floor consists of a large entrance space, a large kitchen, the great room, bedrooms, a smoking lounge, a large lounge, a very large bathroom and the hallway. The interiors of the second floor have been furnished with large scale furniture so that the furniture pieces do not lose their scale within the outsized second floor.
The third floor is a ballroom area with 30-foot ceilings, where Hurlbut and Tomey “host movie nights and an annual Beaux-Arts Ball. “A lot of people call us the Studio 54 of Selma,” he said.