Now that Preservation Month is officially over, the City of Huntsville is reflecting on this year’s campaign and efforts to promote the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.
Held May 1-31, Preservation Month seeks to heighten awareness about the wonderful buildings and places that are part of our shared history. Spearheaded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the observance showcased numerous events, blogs and social media posts about historic preservation.
“Between walking tours, our first-ever History Harvest and a happy hour, we offered numerous activities and events that would appeal to a wide variety of people,” said Huntsville Preservation Planner Katie Stamps. “For me, getting out into the community and meeting folks who love Huntsville history is an incredibly rewarding experience.”
Here’s a quick run-down of everything we did in May:
A free Downtown Huntsville Walking Tour on Friday, May 5, brought to life the evolution and history of Huntsville’s downtown commercial district from the City’s earliest settlers to the Space Age and beyond. Attendees learned about local history, notable citizens and a diverse collection of architectural styles. Stamps also discussed the impact of urban renewal on Huntsville’s city center and how those changes were a catalyst for national and local preservation movements.
The event included a bonus tour of “Brick by Brick: The Legacy of Henderson and Daniel Brandon” at Harrison Brothers Hardware, led by Historic Huntsville Foundation Executive Director Donna Castellano.
Unfortunately, bad weather resulted in the cancelation of the Walking Tour scheduled for Saturday, May 20. Be on the lookout for a makeup date soon!
Mother’s Day cards
Just before Mother’s Day, the City teamed up with the Historic Huntsville Foundation to create make-n-take Mother’s Day cards for the favorite moms in your life.
During the event at Harrison Brothers Hardware, the foundation provided cards and colored pencils, while kids provided the imagination. The cards featured local artist Christina Wegman’s original sketches of places where Huntsville moms made history.
The City and William Hampton from Huntsville Revisited came together Saturday, May 13, at the H.C. Blake Art & History Center to share and learn about Huntsville’s Black history. The inaugural event was the first of many opportunities to come together to continue identifying, documenting and recognizing historically significant places and stories connected to Huntsville’s Black community.
Following years of COVID restrictions, Stamps was grateful to have the opportunity to gather in-person for the event.
“I love that we’re able to safely hold more public events compared to the last few years,” she said. “That made it possible for us to engage with the community more directly through in-person events, which made this year’s campaign one of our best yet.”
Preservation Happy Hour
Those interested in history and preservation gathered at Baker & Able for a happy hour event on Thursday, May 18. It was a great opportunity to meet and network with like-minded professionals, property owners, advocates and volunteers.
SueAnne Griffith, creator and host of Lily Flagg’s Signal, a podcast centered on the history of Huntsville, attended the come-and-go event.
“The Preservation Happy Hour, and Preservation Month as a whole, is a wonderful time for Huntsvillians to connect with the City’s past as well as those invested in preserving it,” she said. “Learning about history is easier and more meaningful when one feels a personal connection to it, such as by linking stories and people to places one can actually see and visit, so it’s incredibly important to maintain these sites and buildings.”
Stamps said the event was one of her favorite from the campaign.
“I meet people every week that own historic properties or work/volunteer in the preservation field, but it was so fun to get them in one room together to socialize and discuss a topic we’re all so passionate about,” she said. “I learned new things about Huntsville history and had the opportunity to talk about current issues going on in the world of preservation. We had such a positive response to this event; I hope to facilitate similar events in the future.”
Additionally, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library (HMCPL) Special Collections offered a series of workshops every Saturday featuring activities focused on careers that help preserve knowledge and history.
May 6 – Junior Archaeologist
Led by Redstone archaeologist, Ben Hoksbergen
May 13 – Junior Archivist
Led by Special Collections archivist, Cait Monroe
May 20 – Junior Museum Curator
Led by Special Collections manager, Heather Adkins
May 27 – Junior Librarian
Led by Youth Librarian, Laura Noble
Stamps expressed her gratitude to everyone who helped make this year’s Preservation Month a great success.
“Thank you to each person who participated in our Preservation Month campaign,” she said. “It wouldn’t be successful without the involvement and support of our Huntsville community.”