Selma will participate in April Walking Tours

Published 9:42 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

Selma and 25 other statewide cities will be participating in the annual April Walking Tours, organized by the Alabama Tourism Department.

The tours will highlight history in downtown areas, which Selma is rich in.

“Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours. These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state,” said Alabama Tourism regional director and tour coordinator Brian Jones. “We have done more than 2,000 walking tours since the beginning of the program 13 years ago and they keep increasing in popularity every year.”

Cities include Selma, Huntsville, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Demopolis, Fairhope, Decatur and others.

Some cities only have the tours only two Saturdays out of the month. Selma, however, is one of the few cities hosting the tours every Saturday.

“It’s a healthy initiative to walk. It’s a walking and learning experience at the same time,” said Selma-Dallas County Camber of Commerce executive director Sheryl Smedley.

She said she isn’t sure how long Selma has participated in the annual statewide tours, but knows the city has participated for at least the past seven years.

Beginning at 10 a.m. at the Selma-Dallas County Library, the tours are free and open to the public. The walks generally last about an hour, but can vary based on the amount of people and questions they may have.

Smedley said the walk will take participants down Dallas Avenue to look at downtown churches.

From there, it will go back on Dallas Avenue and turn down Lauderdale Street to view St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, The Chamber of Commerce Building and the courthouse.

From there, the tour group will view the Bienville Monument and will continue down Water Avenue to view The Selma Times-Journal building, the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the St. James Hotel.

The tour will continue on to Alabama Avenue and then Broad Street. The last stop will be the Crest building where Butler Truax Jewelers currently resides.

“There are all kinds of interesting fact finders for those that are interested,” Smedley said. “There’s a lot of things people don’t know.”

She said two interesting facts shared during the tour include the history of St. Paul’s and the Crest building.

“They think St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has been on that corner ever since it was founded, but it was actually across from the courthouse, on that block there,” she said.

Smedley said the original church was burned down during the Battle of Selma. When it was rebuilt, it was constructed with the bricks from the old capital building at Old Cahawba.

She said the Crest building features Art Deco architecture and is unique to the area.

“There’s not a building like that. It’s like the only one [in Selma],” Smedley said.

Smedley said tourists and residents are welcome to enjoy the tours.

“We just offer it to the community for those who want to come out and participate,” she said. “We invite anyone to come out and participate.”

For more information, visit the Alabama Tourism Department website at www.alabama.travel.com.