Fitzgerald Museum Celebrates Hometown Celebrities

By on 21 October, 2011 in Carole King, Fun, Holidays with 0 Comments

Of all the cultural treasurers we find in Midtown Montgomery, perhaps the most unique is the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum located at 919 Felder Avenue in Old Cloverdale. Founded in 1988, it is world’s only museum dedicated to this unusual couple. Scott and Zelda lived in this house when they returned to Zelda’s hometown for several months in the early 1930s. As the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum approaches its 25th anniversary, the staff and board looks to the next 25 years with great anticipation and excitement, hoping to transform the Museum into a center of education and tourism. The newly appointed director, Willie Thompson, is working with the 18 member board of directors, volunteers and the neighborhood to revitalize the Museum’s image and update its mission within our thriving capitol city.

Zelda was born Zelda Sayre in 1900 in Montgomery. Even as a child, her audacious behavior was the subject of Montgomery gossip. Shortly after finishing high school, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald, stationed at Camp Sheridan in north Montgomery, at a dance. A whirlwind courtship ensued, and they married in 1920. They spent the early part of the 1920s as literary celebrities in New York after This Side of Paradise was successfully published. They soon moved to Europe hobnobbing with the great literary figures of the time, including Ernest Hemingway. Continuing to write, Scott used his and Zelda’s tumultuous relationship as material for the content of some of his other novels (Lost Generation and The Great Gatsby) as well as many short stories.

Zelda sought her own artistic identity by writing short stories and magazine articles. She became obsessed with a career as a ballerina and artist. In 1930, Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia in a Swiss sanitarium. Shortly afterward, the couple moved to the house at 919 Felder Avenue.

The Fitzgerald Museum is the only home that Scott and Zelda ever lived in during their glamorous and tragic lives that is actually open to the public. They occupied the two story Arts and Crafts style house with their daughter Scottie from the fall of 1931 until the spring of 1932, coming to Montgomery shortly after Zelda was released from the sanitarium. Zelda’s time living in Montgomery and especially the death of her father inspired her only novel, Save Me the Waltz, published in 1932. Meanwhile, Scott continued to labor over his long-delayed Tender is the Night, published later in 1934.

In its upcoming planning phase, the Fitzgerald Museum hopes to interpret the progressive, fun-loving, Jazz Age lives of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald by initiating lectures and presentations by relevant historical and literary experts; sponsoring writing conferences and workshops; providing housing for visiting professors teaching at local universities; establishing a local writers’ colony; holding painting, reading and writing workshops; and sponsoring composition contests for schools and book signings by local authors — just to name a few of the potential opportunities. The Museum also hopes to form broader collaborations with such organizations as the new Cloverdale Playhouse, Capri Theatre, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Montgomery’s Performing Arts Center and the Southern Literary Trails.

The next special event will be Scott’s Halloween Bash party on Monday evening, October 31st from 6:00 until 10:00 p.m. at the Fitzgerald Museum, 919 Felder Avenue. The Lo-Fi Loungers will provide music and King’s Table Catering will be serving up food. Tickets are $20 at the door. For more information, check out the event website, or call 334.264.4222. Come as your favorite famous author or most unforgettable character!

Carole King (not the singer, just the hummer) enjoys midtown living from South Capitol Parkway in Capitol Heights where she has lived for 25+years. Carole has been the historic properties curator for the Landmarks Foundation that manages Old Alabama Town for 28 years and is passionate about neighborhoods, their architectural character, their people, and their preservation!

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