Huntsville City launches sixth annual Historic Preservation Month

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Saturday, May 1 will mark the start of Historic Preservation Month as part of a nationwide campaign, and Huntsville is no exception to that. This year, the city of Huntsville is taking an active interest in getting more people to visit the city’s historic sites, homes, and museums.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle was joined by leaders in the Historic Huntsville community to kick off the campaign and unveil this year’s focus.

This year, an emphasis on bringing people back to those historic and culturally significant sites after COVID-19 took a financial toll, forcing a temporary closure, then quarantine, and at-home work and school keeping many people from the sites. The hashtag used for this preservation recognition is “#SavingPlacesHSV.”

One place experiencing that hardship is Harrison Brothers Hardware, owned and operated by The Historic Huntsville Foundation. The store is the state’s oldest hardware store, according to Historic Huntsville Foundation Executive Director Donna Castellano.

She not only knows how hard it has been to get customers through the doors but how costly it is to maintain a 19th-century site.

“A large source of these incomes have to go to maintenance and upkeep, otherwise we’re not going to have these structures 100 years from now,” Castellano said.

Harrison Brothers is not alone. City Preservation Planner Katie Stamps said it’s been a sad year for all historic sites in town.

“Just talking about where we are now at Constitution Hall Park and Museum they had a lot of layoffs,” Stamps said.

She said many are still recovering today.

‘”It’s hard for a lot of organizations. Museums and archives don’t make a lot of money as it is, so when they can’t have people coming to visit it really does impact them a lot,” Stamps said.

The city will feature different places on their social media as part of the campaign; the Weeden and Lowry houses, Veterans Memorial Museum, H.C. Blake Art & History Center, Alabama State Black Archives, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville Museum of Art, and Burritt on the Mountain.

“Places like this make history come alive so I think it’s just such a unique way to learn about your hometown so we encourage people to go out and support those places,” Stamps said.

Stamps said the best way to support is get out and be a tourist in your own town, and continue exploring all Huntsville has to offer. Castellano said to get involved with organizations like Historic Huntsville Foundation to learn how more on how you can support revitalization and other upcoming campaigns.

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