Mayor Battle Kicks Off Preservation Month: #ThisPlaceMattersHsv

April 30, 2018

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“This Place Matters!” So proclaimed Mayor Tommy Battle today as he kicked-off Preservation Month during a news conference in the Old Town Historic District.

For the next 31 days, the City will highlight significant spaces and places in preservation to celebrate, in a variety of fun and engaging ways, the impact of Huntsville’s historic districts.

“This is our third year to recognize the buildings and places that matter most to us and the people who’ve been instrumental in saving them for future generations to enjoy,” said Mayor Battle.

Protecting the character of historic structures within designated districts is entrusted to the City, its Preservationist Katie Stamps, and members of the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission (HHPC).

“The City may be responsible for guiding and overseeing restorations…but it takes passion from the owners to commit time and resources to save these homes.”

“Huntsville’s historic districts are special, and they contribute to the city’s sense of place and local economy. These districts were built by our ancestors and deserved to be preserved for future generations,” said Stamps.

The annual #ThisPlaceMattersHsv campaign gives the community the opportunity to appreciate and learn more about the places that matter in our community, according to Stamps.

Mayor Battle believes preservation allows us to showcase our history, one that includes public and private enthusiasm and commitment.

“We’re standing today in front of some of the best preserved Victorian and Queen Anne homes from the last quarter of the 19th century,” said Mayor Battle. “The City may be responsible for guiding and overseeing the restorations of these properties, but it also takes passion from the owners to commit their time and resources to save these homes.”

Helping to showcase preservation efforts throughout the month with the City and HHPC will be the Historic Huntsville Foundation, community members from the historic districts and local preservation efforts.

Huntsville has eight historic districts listed on the National Register with two more under consideration.

“The rocket scientists and engineers that came to Huntsville during the1950s and 1960s change the course of human history, and they made their mark on Huntsville’s landscape as well.”

“By the end of 2018 Mcthornmor Acres, Huntsville’s first Space Age historic district, will become the City’s 9th historic district,” said HHPC Chair Mike Holbrook.  “In March of this year, the City was awarded a Certified Local Government grant from the Alabama Historical Commission to survey the Edmonton Heights neighborhood, a historically African American residential neighborhood with close ties to Alabama A&M University.”

This exciting development for preservation would not have been possible without the support of the Huntsville Historic Foundation. This organization has been instrumental in providing grant funding and grant writing resources for preservation. HHF Executive Director Donna Castellano believes the progression of Huntsville’s architecture reflects the city’s transition from agrarian roots to space age capital.

“The rocket scientists and engineers that came to Huntsville during the1950s and 1960s change the course of human history, and they made their mark on Huntsville’s landscape as well. Today, the houses and neighborhoods built for our space age work force should be recognized for their historic significance to Huntsville and our national history,” said Castellano.

What’s Happening in May #ThisPlaceMattersHsv

Historic Chat – Facebook Live, May 10, 2 p.m.
Dennis Madsen, the City’s Manager of Long Range Planning joins City Preservationist Katie Stamps in a Five Points Historic District home to discuss the #ThisPlaceMattersHsv campaign and the vital role historic districts play within the city.

Historic Property Recognitions
Throughout May, the City will recognize different properties within each historic district to illustrate how these special places matter to the Huntsville community.  Look for the #ThisPlaceMattersHsv yard signs placed by the City Preservationist and Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission and follow their photo essays on social media.

Talk, Walk & Toast
Preservation Month activities will culminate with a Talk, Walk & Toast event on May 22, at 5:30 p.m. Evening festivities will begin with a panel talk at Holmes Street United Methodist Church on the successes and challenges of Huntsville’s historic districts. Moderated by Lee Roop of AL.com, panelists include Donna Castellano, Executive Director of Historic Huntsville Foundation; Mike Holbrook, Chairman of Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission; Joseph Lee, Community Development Specialist for Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission; and Caroline Swope, Principal at Kingstree Studios Cultural Resource Management.

Following the panel discussion, guests will walk tree-lined streets on a guided tour of the Old Town Historic District and see one of the finest collections of Queen Anne dwellings, Victorian cottages, and Craftsman Bungalows in the state of Alabama. At the end of the night, guests will gather in the connecting gardens of 119 & 121 Walker Avenue.  Constructed in 1892, these Victorian cottage “sister houses” are almost identical in design.  The first floor of 121 Walker Avenue will be open for viewing.

For more activities and events throughout May, visit the Historic Preservation Facebook page, Instagram and web page and follow the conversation on social with the hashtag #ThisPlaceMattersHsv. Be sure to check out the National Historic Trust for additional preservation activities in May.

This Place Matters Proclamation