If you’ve known me for long or read a few words I’ve written here or there, odds are you know I am a sixth-generation Huntsville native. I even have a joke in my back pocket for when folks are surprised to hear this information. “Yep”, I say, “we’re such a rare breed, it’s like a tag and release program.” Most of the time, I get a little chuckle and that’s that. Perhaps because we live in a community of such focused forward momentum and an ebbing and flowing of people from all over the world coming and going, this tiny fact about me is always greeted with such awe.
Maybe it’s the permanence or steadfastness or perceived laziness of staying in one place that’s of great intrigue and worth a gasp of amazement. Truth is, it’s not the time adding up that makes my experience here so unique.
What is special, I find, is the different lens through which you view a place once having heard tales of “what was once on this corner” or how “your granddaddy used to work in that building” or how your father and his classmates “used to buy their school books from a business that sat right there on Southside Square and had a great big sign that read, ‘Great Is The Power Of Cash.‘”
As I’ve had a little time on my hands lately to mull over this place, my people and what my surroundings mean to me. All these swirling thoughts just so happen to align perfectly with a sort of celebration of such things, the beginning of Huntsville’s annual #ThisPlaceMattersHsv campaign, an initiative of the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission and part of National Preservation Month. This year’s celebration is entirely digital to observe the current climate of practicing safe social distancing, but that doesn’t diminish its importance.
In the month of May, a variety of historic locations including businesses, schools, civic buildings and houses of worship will be highlighted. This is your chance to grow a deeper connection to our community and understand why preservation is important to Huntsville’s story and your own.
There will be live interviews each week, city blog updates and the organizers encourage outside strolls so you can connect with the historic beauty of our many structures for yourself. To take part, you can post your own photos using #ThisPlaceMattersHsv and follow along with the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission social media pages (Facebook) or (Instagram) or visit the HuntsvilleAL.gov website.
Now…you’re not gonna get to hear my dad tell you how they used to sell pigeons out back at Harrison Brothers Hardware and how, in particular, he remembers the wild looking Nun Pigeons or even how the brothers wore their aprons high up on their chests just so. What you will learn is a lot more about this special city that you’ll call “home” forever or maybe just for now.