Historic sites open to visitors

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

The more people use properties overseen by the Alabama Historical Commission, the better the chances for money to help the sites along.

Alabama has 21 historical sites and 12 opened to the public, according to Frank W. White, the commission&8217;s executive director. Last week, White spoke to the Selma Kiwanis Club as it met at the St. James Hotel.

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More people will visit historical sites if their children want to go, White told the group. &8220;You get the kids involved; you get the parents involved. Pretty soon, you have everybody.&8221;

Sites generate more revenue once the statistics rise, then comes the profit to keep the site going, he added.

Old Cawhaba, Alabama&8217;s state capital from 1820-26, fits in the state&8217;s category of properties. The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Historians and archaeologists from the commission have worked to create a full-time interpretive park at the site just south of Selma.

A visit to the site begins at the Welcome Center, which features exhibits of archaeological finds and photographs of homes and businesses that once thrived in the town.

Plans call for expansion of the site on the southern end.

The Cahawba Advisory Committee has worked to restore the historic St. Luke&8217;s Episcopal Church building. White acknowledged the committee&8217;s work.

The commission&8217;s executive director referred to James Hammonds, the president of the Cahawba Advisory Committee and other committee members.

In the fall of 2006, the committee, the commission and Auburn University&8217;s School of Architecture Rural Studio formed a partnership to save the church.

Students from the studio disassembled the church and moved it from Martin Station, about 15 miles away, ordered and numbered the piece and began re-assembling the church.

The advisory committee will contract with others for the foundation and some other items. &8220;But by and large the students

and instructors have done it

just with us just paying for it with a little architectural

assistance from the Historical Commission&8217;s architect.&8221;

Next up: the Fambro house, purchased by the commission. The building has deteriorated, even to the point of an unstable foundation. Visitors cannot walk into the structure, which W.W. Fambro built in th early 1840s. He advertised the house for sale in 1853.

Ezekiel Arthur, a freedman, bought the house in 1894 for $2,000. He traveled over several states, found members of his family sold away prior to the Civil War and brought them home. The Arthur family lived in the house until the late 1990s.

Last week, White said the house had become a priority for funding and stabilization.