The Harmony Club, located on historic Water Avenue, will be one of the destinations for the 2013 Selma Pilgrimage in March. -- File Photo

Selma Pilgrimage announces theme for 2013 event

Published 3:21pm Thursday, January 10, 2013

Selma residents along with several local homes and businesses are preparing for the 38th annual Historic Selma Pilgrimage, which will take place March 15 and March 16.

The event is put on by the Selma Dallas Historic Preservation Society and pilgrimage chairman Jewell Williamson said she sees the annual event as an opportunity to showcase Selma’s historic treasures.

“Pilgrimage is really a chance for us to show off and share our historic district,” she said. “And this year we have a totally different look. We’re going to be looking at Selma’s Jewish heritage.”

Selma’s Pilgrimage gives both locals and out of town visitors the opportunity to tour historic homes and downtown buildings in Selma and Dallas County.

This year visitors can expect a very different tour from what they found last year when the theme was Town and Country, leading guests on a tour of homes and businesses both in Selma and out in the country.

“We were afraid that people would not go out in the country, but they did. We had a great success with that,” Williamson said. “There are many people who are repeats. They follow this and they make sure they put this on their calendar, so [we put] different houses on the tour each year.”

Williamson said the tour has never focused on the Jewish heritage in this way, and guests are really going to enjoy what is in store.

“[The Jewish community] played a big part in the history of Selma,” Williamson said.

“Many of the homes that we’re going to be showing, have some Jewish ancestry or Jewish heritage. Some of the home owners now keep up with the people who used to live there and keep the thread going of that Selma connection to all this.”

Williamson added that while the tour will be focusing on Jewish heritage in Selma, not everything will be directly connected to Jewish culture.

“Everything’s not going to be Jewish but that’s kind of going to be a little thread running through there,” she said.

Unlike last year when guests needed to drive to see almost all of the historic homes and businesses, this year guests can expect to visit most stops of the tour on foot.

Williamson said that while the tour list is not yet completed and more may be added, the following can be expected tour destinations: Temple Mishkan Israel, Harmony Club, GAW on Water Avenue, Old Depot Museum, Keith Law Office, Strudivant Hall, Keenan’s Mill, ArtsRevive Juried Show, Artisan Fair at Hertiage, Vaughan-Smitherman House, Alabama Plein Air Artists, Baker-Brooks home, Kayser-Turner-Searcy home, and the Koeingsthal-Williamson-Luker home.

“It gets difficult to find people who are willing to open their homes, because it is a lot of work. They have these beautiful homes filled with beautiful things and they do go to some extra effort,” Williamson said. “Many times the pilgrims are very interested in talking to the person who owns that house.”

History is a crucial part of Selma’s Pilgrimage and what makes that history come to life on the tours are the stories.

“We try to come up with interesting stories, like why there’s a burn spot on the floor, well it’s because the Yankees built a fire there, or this chair was rescued from up the road as they dropped it off their wagon as they were ravaging the houses,” Williamson said. “We like to find interesting, human interest kind of things along with the history.”

A pilgrim is someone who travels through one place to another and Williamson encourages people from all over to attend.

“Selma has the largest historic district in the Southeast. We get good tourism dollars from the historic district. So it’s so important for us to share this with other parts of the country and we get people coming from all parts of the country,” Williamson said. “One of the things we really want to encourage are bus tours coming here. We used to have lots of busses from areas coming from around the state, and we don’t have as many of that, and we’d like to encourage that to continue. The local people, many of them have never been in a lot of these homes and we try to encourage them to come also.”

Tickets will be available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during Pilgrimage. For more information, call 334-412-8550 or 1-800-45-SELMA or visit

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