Where can you explore history in a hands-on way, board a historic train or catch a glimpse of what life would have been like in 1819?
Look no further than EarlyWorks Family of Museums, which includes the EarlyWorks Children’s Museum, Historic Huntsville Depot and Alabama Constitution Hall Park & Museum.
For Historic Preservation Month, we’re spotlighting historic and culturally significant places in Huntsville that have felt the impacts of COVID-19. This year’s campaign – Saving Places – is designed to show appreciation to those places that provide definitive glimpses of Huntsville’s 210-year history.
“The preservation of our past and the sharing of stories are always important because they tell where we’ve been and highlight the great people who have come before us,” said Bart Williams, executive director of the EarlyWorks Family of Museums.
EarlyWorks Children’s Museum
Address: 404 Madison St. S.E., Huntsville
Established: December 1998
Mission: Connect children and their families to history and heritage through creative play, imagination and discovery.
What makes it special: EarlyWorks shares stories of our past and heritage with the youngest members of our community.
What’s new: During the past 18 months, EarlyWorks has expanded to include STEM activities for kids of all ages. EarlyWorks also has a traveling exhibit, “Toys: The Inside Story.” Children can peek inside popular toys and explore linkages, cams, pulleys and circuits. Later in May, the museum will announce other exciting play areas prior to the beginning of the Summer of Innovation.
How they’ve weathered COVID: EarlyWorks Children’s Museum closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the closure, staff stayed busy cleaning, adding items, repairing and preparing to reopen in July 2020. The museum, which encourages social distancing and frequent handwashing, currently requires advanced reservation and face coverings for guests ages 3+.
Historic Huntsville Depot
Address: 320 Church St. N.W., Huntsville
Established: Opened in the mid-1970s as a museum following a restoration of the passenger building, which dates back to the 1860s.
Mission: Nurture and explore Huntsville’s rich history through the preservation of its first train station and engaging exhibits that highlight transportation’s impact on our community.
What makes it special: The Huntsville Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places with public displays covering local Civil War and transportation history.
What’s new: Although currently closed due to COVID-19, the Historic Huntsville Depot allows guests to explore Civil War graffiti, see classic cars, climb into the driver’s seat of a vintage firetruck, check out a model train exhibit and more. Young children will enjoy Little Toots, a play area that encourages fine motor skill development and imaginative play.
How they’ve weathered COVID: Due to COVID-19, the Historic Huntsville Depot has suspended museum operations until further notice. Visit their website for updates.
Alabama Constitution Hall Park & Museum
Address: 109 Gates Ave. S.E., Huntsville
Established: Opened in April 1982 after extensive excavation and reconstruction.
Mission: Foster community engagement through the exploration of Alabama’s constitutional convention and the surrounding community.
What makes it special: Alabama Constitution Hall is a reconstruction of the building where the first Alabama Constitution was drafted and signed by delegates in summer 1819.
What’s new: Like the Historic Huntsville Depot, Alabama Constitution Hall Park & Museum remains closed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. When it reopens, guests can learn how Alabama became a state, hear stories of the community, and see demonstrations of how people survived without modern conveniences.
How they’ve weathered COVID: Alabama Constitution Hall Park & Museum is currently closed. Stay updated on their reopening plans here.
The City of Huntsville recognizes places like the EarlyWorks Family of Museums help preserve our history and are instrumental in sharing that history with the community. Plan your visit today!