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McThornmor Acres marker paints picture of Huntsville during the Space Race

Published on November 19, 2023

A historic marker gives the history of McThornmor Acres Historic District in Huntsville.
A marker at the entrance of McThornmor Acres provides a history of the neighborhood. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2022.

It’s been nearly two years since McThornmor Acres joined the U.S. Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), but the celebration continues.

City representatives, local historians and residents recently unveiled a historic marker at the neighborhood’s entrance that tells its story to passersby.

Incorporated in 1956, McThornmor Acres is a symbolic time-capsule of mid-century architecture that thrived during a period of dramatic growth at Redstone Arsenal. The neighborhood’s early residents were professionals associated with Huntsville’s budding aerospace and missile programs.

McThornmor Acres is Alabama’s first historic district to be listed to the National Register of Historic Places directly linked to the Space Race. Its connection to that era has local, state and national significance and we are thrilled to celebrate this honor with past and present residents of the district.” — Preservation Planner Katie Stamps

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said Huntsville’s growth underscores the importance of recognizing the City’s established neighborhoods.

“No matter how much we grow in the future, and no matter how many more new homes are built, we’ll know our established neighborhoods are the ones that set a standard for quality of life,” Mayor Battle said. “McThornmor Acres’ place on the federal registry recognizes the integrity of the neighborhood, and the value of a quality of life enjoyed by so many. That’s something worth celebrating.

City representatives applaud the unveiling of a historic marker at the entrance of the McThornmor Acres neighborhood in Huntsville.
Mayor Tommy Battle, right, and District 4 Council Member Bill Kling, left, celebrate a new historic marker at the entrance of McThornmor Acres. They are joined by Katie Stamps, Huntsville’s Preservation Planner; Donna Castellano, Executive Director of the Historic Huntsville Foundation; and residents Donna Dutton and Lynda Romero.

About the neighborhood

The name “McThornmor Acres” is a blending of the men who incorporated the neighborhood – Vance J. Thornton, S. O. McDonald, James D. Thornton, Carl A. Morring Jr., and Allen M. Northington.

Platted in 1956 and completed in 1969, it was the largest subdivision west of Huntsville to be annexed into the City at that time. The neighborhood was also the first area developed following that annexation.

Huntsville’s District 4 City Council Member Bill Kling said though older neighborhoods like McThornmor Acres are reminders of a simpler time, they continue to thrive as new generations of residents discover their charms.

“Homes in established neighborhoods are popular with young families because they are well-built and they have yards where children can play,” Kling said. “They also have walkable sidewalks and, best of all, engaged neighbors who have pride in their community.”

Historic collaboration

In 2016, Donna Castellano, Executive Director of Historic Huntsville Foundation, met with McThornmor Acres resident Diane Walls and former City Preservation Planner Jessica White to discuss listing the neighborhood to the NRHP.  At that time, no other mid-century neighborhoods had been considered for historical significance.

The collaborative effort opened the door to the survey of eight other mid-century neighborhoods, including Edmonton Heights, Blossomwood, Medical District, Mayfair, Magnolia Terrace, Terry Heights and Whitesburg Estates.

Click here to learn more about Historic Preservation in Huntsville.

Click here to visit the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.