Fun at Old Alabama Town

By on 5 March, 2019 in Historic Midtown, Karren Pell with 0 Comments

On Saturday, March 9, we’ll celebrate Second Saturday at Old Alabama Town. Admission to both the Living and Working Blocks are free from 10 a.m. until 3. On this Saturday, several special events make the day especially enjoyable.

John Schneider will be presenting a wood working demonstration near the log cabin. Shanlie Wolter will return with her silhouette artistry in Lucas Tavern. Betty Ann Lloyd will host a spinning demonstration in the Rose House.

In addition, guides will be on hand to discuss “influences that created the decorative features and architectural styles” of several of the buildings which are being featured in an “Montgomery Oldest Houses Tour.” Lucas Tavern, the log cabin, Yancey Dog Trot, Martin-Barnes House, Rose House, the Shotgun House and others are on the tour. Have you ever looked at an old building and wondered, “why did the builders do that?” Well, Saturday is your chance to find answers to some of those questions.

Lucas Tavern, which is on the tour, is the oldest building in Montgomery County and has a long and rather romantic history. It was moved to Old Alabama Town from its prime spot on the Old Federal Road in eastern Montgomery County. The Old Federal Road was the main thoroughfare for travelers, settlers, traders, and wanderers while Alabama was a territory and for some time after statehood. Historian Mary Ann Neeley writes that Walter and Eliza Lucas bought the Tavern from James Abercrombie in 1820. Walter had a mercantile store in downtown Montgomery, a “pole boat, the Eliza, which plied the Alabama River” from Montgomery to Mobile, and a store and gin in Line Creek Community. Walter was a busy and influential man and so Eliza saw to the day-to-day running of tavern.

Lucas Tavern  is best known as one of the hosts for the visit of the revolutionary hero, the Marquis de Lafayette. Before arriving in Montgomery, he and his entourage spent the night at Lucas Tavern. Thomas Woodward said of their brief one-night stay: “Everything was ‘done up’ better than it will ever be again; one thing was lacking—time—we could not stay long enough.”

Mary Ann Neeley also relates how another visitor, Scottish Lawyer James Stewart, praised Eliza’s meal of “chicken pie, ham, vegetables, pudding and pies.” In addition, he noted wine, brandy, and water were offered. However, after praising his hostess’ culinary talents he noted she appeared to be “the fattest woman he had ever seen for her age.” Goodness.

Walter and Eliza, “caught up again in westward movement,” relocated to Mississippi in 1842. The tavern became a residence, but by 1930 it was a dilapidated old building that no longer hosted heroes and wanderers, but instead was used to store cattle feed. However, its history was remembered, and the Daughters of the American Revolution placed a marker commemorating Lafayette’s visit. In 1978 its owners, Stewart Fuzzell and Vergie Broward, gave the building to Landmarks Foundation. Relocated and restored by 1980, it served as the reception center for Landmarks until 1996. It remains the entry point for the Living Block and is a beautiful and intriguing reminder of Alabama history.

Come to the Second Saturday events at Old Alabama Town on March 9, from 10 a.m. until 3! Bring family and friends. Have fun. Learn something. Feel Alabama’s history.

Karren Pell is a writer, teacher, and performer who lives with her husband, Tim Henderson, and an assortment of cats and dogs in Capitol Heights. She is the author of three books. Her musical compositions range from commercial songs to theatrical works, with five musical adaptations to her credit.

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