Old Town Historic District Earns Placement on National Register of Historic Places
Published on September 16, 2015
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle is proud to announce the Old Town Historic District has been expanded and included in the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior. This important designation reaffirms Old Town as one of the nation’s foremost cultural resources worthy of preservation.
“This distinction further recognizes, at a national level, the importance and scale of these marvelous historic properties in our City,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “These residences help us tell the stories of life in Huntsville from its earliest days in the 1800s. We treasure these properties, our visitors love them, and generations to come will be grateful we made the effort to preserve their integrity.”
The Old Town Historic District was first listed on the National Historic Register in 1974. Since that time, however, new scholarship emerged on additional properties, and the district needed to expand. With funding support from the following entities, the nomination process started anew in 2011 with a $12,000 Certified Local Government (CLG) grant provided by the Alabama Historical Commission. Matching funds to the $10,000 provided by the AHC were given by the City of Huntsville ($500), the Historic Huntsville Foundation ($500), and the Old Town Historic District Association ($1,000).
“The nomination process gives us a much needed update to the original 1974 district creation,” said David Ely, Old Town resident and Chair of the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission. “It provides accurate property descriptions and designations of their significance within the district, includes outbuildings which had not been considered in the original nomination, vetted changes made to properties since the first nomination, increased the district’s boundary, and offers vital historic guidance to the Huntsville Historic Commission.”
The Old Town Historic District is largely residential and features homes dating from the late 1820s to the early 20th century in a variety of architectural styles including Queen Anne, Victorian, American Craftsman, Federal and Greek Revival. Located near downtown Huntsville, Old Town is north of, and adjacent to, the Twickenham Historic District and west of the Five Points Historic District.
“Through the National Register nomination process, we now have a wonderful study that provides invaluable insight into the history of Huntsville, helping to highlight the growth of the City from the Antebellum time period to the present,” said Jessica White, Historic Preservation Consultant to the City of Huntsville. “This helps us further identify and document Huntsville’s historic places and ensures the future preservation of these historic resources.”
White and Ely served on the nomination committee along with Dr. Carroll Van West, Middle Tennessee State University Center for Historic Preservation; Lucy Brown, Old Town resident and 2011 President of the Old Town Historic District Association; Ralph Allen, local historian and former Historic Preservation Consultant for the City of Huntsville; Susan Enzweiler, former National Register Coordinator for the Alabama Historical Commission, and the City of Huntsville GIS Department. Judy Perszyk wrote the CLG grant that funding the nomination.
“The Old Town neighborhood documents how Huntsville has evolved from an antebellum county seat to a bustling mill town at the turn of the century to the modern city, fueled by the Space age, that it is today,” said Dr. West. “It was a great personal and professional privilege to be asked by the City of Huntsville to revisit this important historic district and update the history and places that makes it a special neighborhood.”
The National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic and archaeological resources. To be considered eligible, historic entities must meet strict criteria for evaluation which includes a detailed examination of age, integrity, and significance.
Watch the news conference HERE.