Maybe you want to join the cause to help preserve Huntsville’s historic landmarks. Maybe you want to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Or maybe you own an older home and want to maintain its integrity.
All those can lead to opportunity, and it’s more magnified this month, which is National Historic Preservation Month.
“There’s always something to be done in the world of preservation,” says Jessica White, Historic Preservation Consultant for the City of Huntsville. “There’s a limitless number of avenues to be involved. It’s up to your interest.”
White and the Historic Huntsville Preservation Commission are spearheading a month-long effort in Huntsville that includes a special designation program to honor various buildings and entities for work in preservation, built around the national theme of “This Place Matters.” Thus, the reason you’re probably localized #ThisPlaceMattersHsv hashtag all of City social media.
But the effort is greater than simply identifying a few buildings, like the first honoree, Huntsville West Coworking, for their adaptive reuse. The campaign also aims to recruit more people to the cause.
“If folks want to get involved financially, we apply for grants to put preservation designations on sites,” White says. “It’s important to have people that are willing to support these grants through matching funds, helping to get these projects off the ground.”
For those with a simple curiosity for things historic, a number of local organizations can link you with like-minded souls, whether it’s the Historic Huntsville Foundation, the Huntsville-Madison County Historical Society, the LearningQuest program from the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, William Hampton’s “Huntsville Revisited” Facebook page, and all of the vast resources of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, with miles of microfilm and tons of books.
“You can be a part of design guideline revisions, attend meetings and help make commentary on decisions,” White says.
To literally get your hands dirty, check with the City of Huntsville’s Green Team for opportunities with cemeteries program, which not only maintains cemeteries but works to clean, repair and restore historic markers.
Finally, you may already find yourself surrounded by history. White is a terrific resource for homeowners.
“I give recommendations of where to start to maintain historic integrity,” she says. “If you’re looking at a house that’s 100 or 150 years old, that can be overwhelming. A lot of things can happen in that time frame. I give recommendations on where to start to learn about the house.
“I have a lot of people reach out to me who want to preserve their house but who don’t understand the ins and outs, even if it’s not in a Historic District. I can help point to local guidelines and to national standards that point out do’s and don’t’s.”
What this month will make evident is while there are certain official Historic Districts, Huntsville has no shortage of districts full of history.