Graham tapped to lead expansion at Swift-Coles Home

Plans to build an event center will make the home picture perfect for brides-to-be

By Allison Marlow
Posted 8/5/21

It is fair to say that in its 139-year history the Swift-Coles Home has been host to its share of weddings, births, parties and deaths.

Now the staff is working to make sure the 6,000 square foot …

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Graham tapped to lead expansion at Swift-Coles Home

Plans to build an event center will make the home picture perfect for brides-to-be

Kathryn Graham
Kathryn Graham
Posted
It is fair to say that in its 139-year history the Swift-Coles Home has been host to its share of weddings, births, parties and deaths. Now the staff is working to make sure the 6,000 square foot historic home is the backdrop of as many happy days as possible. Baldwin County native Kathryn Nicole Leiterman Graham was tapped as house manager this spring to lead the home in becoming a wedding destination. “I want to make sure brides are able to have that special day. Every single girl, I don’t care who you are, dreams about this day where they get to be a princess. And on that one day, you kind of are,” Graham said. Graham is especially fond of hosting weddings. She said she and her husband of eight years married in a ceremony that didn’t include the traditional celebration. “I know what it’s like to be a bride that never had that day and I want to make sure others are able to have an amazing experience,” she said. “To get to be a part of that is an honor.” Graham has honed her wedding planning skills as founder and owner of Events by Kathryn, based in Foley. She and her husband also own and operate Coastal Cruisers Classic and Antique Limousine Services. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Huntingdon College in 2020. At the Swift-Coles home Graham will oversee the building’s largest transformation in nearly 100 years. The home was built in 1882 as a four-room house by local fisherman, Thomas Gavin. Charles and Susan Roberts Swift bought the home 16 years later and moved in with seven children. Over the years the couple added an entrance hall, dining room, two bathrooms and a kitchen. Stunning wrap around porches were constructed as well. Eventually the simple home swelled to 15 rooms and 6,000 square feet of space, including 3,500 square feet of porches. As the house grew, so did the Swift family. By the turn of the century the house was home to 11 Swift children, ages 2 – 21. Two others passed away as infants. The Swift family eventually sold it to Nicholas Cole in the 1970s who filled it with antiques and eventually gifted it to the Baldwin County Historical Development Commission upon his death in 2007. In the next five years, Graham said the commission plans to build an event center on the property and offer inclusive event packages that include décor, lighting, chairs and tables – items that currently must be brought in by an outdoor vendor. Even as the staff expands its event offerings, the home will continue its historical tours and educational programs. This summer the staff hosted several summer reading days and sent children on a scavenger hunt through the building to locate historical objects including a rotary dial telephone. “They were all like, ‘What is this?’,” Graham said. “Phones have always been in these kids’ hands so they really didn’t know what we were talking about.” Graham said plans are being made for holiday programs as well.