Historic Selma Pilgrimage ‘real neat’ to young visitors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

Pam Daniels Dattilo was born on the second floor of what is now the Joseph T. Smitherman Historic Building when it was a hospital. Now a museum, she toured her birthplace Saturday afternoon with her 12-year-old twin grandsons during the Historic Selma Pilgrimage.

Now living in Gautier, Miss., she brought Cameron and Tyler Boney. They were on their way to Old Live Oak Cemetery. The boys were impressed.

Email newsletter signup

“I think places like this are real neat,” Cameron said. “I’m glad they’re keeping them up.”

Grandma agreed.

“We didn’t always live here, but this is my birthplace,” said Dattilo, eyeing the exterior of the three-story red brick headquarters of the 32nd annual event. “I was born on the second floor. My husband (Phillip) was too, a couple years earlier.”

Sponsored by the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society, the three-day event showcases the historic homes and sites, some dating back to the 1820s. The tours of a Greek Revival mansion, a four-room Victorian Cottage, The Oaks, an 1849 plantation home on 1,600 acres, historic Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church and Old Live Oak Cemetery are the main attractions. The event also hosts an antique car show and an art show at the ArtsRevive annual Harmony Club art show.

“It’s good to get the children involved,” Dattilo said. “We could drop them off at the skating rink, but they don’t teach them anything.”

This year’s Pilgrimage attracted more visitors than last year’s event. Organizers said the extra hour of daylight and pleasant weather was probably to thank for that.

“We’ve had wonderful attendance this year. We’ve had a real steady crowd all day,” said Candi Duncan, a member of the Preservation Society. “We’ve had some people from Oregon, some from England and Germany.”

The second oldest city in Alabama, Selma’s Olde Town district was filled with out-of-town guests walking and riding through touring some of the 1,200 structures dating back to the early 1800s. The Newton House, located at 423 Church St., was built in 1906. It, along with the Mills house, Sturdivant Hall, the McPhillips house, Newton house, The Foundry, and The Oaks will be open for tours today from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.