Old Depot Museum Director Beth Spivey shares history of Selma

Published 12:08 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

Beth Spivey’s love for Selma runs deep. Spivey grew up in the rural Lowndes County town of Petronia, but she spends most of her time in Queen City. She graduated from Morgan Academy in 1989.

Spivey just completed her sixth year as executive director and curator of the Old Depot Museum. She enjoys her role of giving tourists a positive first impression of Selma.

“I love it here,” Spivey said. “I love meeting people from all around the world. I love being able to give people a good first impression of Selma. I love showing people that it is a good town full of great people.”

Spivey said she enjoys seeing people across the world visiting Selma and dropping by the Old Depot Museum.

“We have people wanting to come to Selma and we have people who don’t want to live here,” Spivey said. “People from England are amazed at the land here. No one owns land in England. People from California love it here. I never knew that this many people love Selma. You get to meet many good people.”

Spivey said Selma has potential to become a huge tourist attraction.

“There’s so many wonderful things in here,” she said. “Selma is an important piece of American history. It’s not just about Civil Rights. We’re sitting on a gold mine.”

Working at Old Depot has provided a few learning experiences for Spivey. Historic items at the museum include a light green sweater worn by Martin Luther King Jr., drumsticks from Napoleon and a dish used to serve Marquis de Lafayette in Cahaba. Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War.

“It’s like a mystery all the time,” Spivey said. “Every corner in here has these fantastic stories. Everything in here is a piece of a puzzle that hasn’t been unlocked. There’s stuff in here I don’t even know about. I still haven’t uncovered everything in here. There’s so much stuff in here.”

Spivey enjoys putting smiles on people’s faces at the museum.

“My favorite thing is when I help people find things they’re looking for,” Spivey said.

Spivey said she didn’t expect to end up working in a museum. She began working at the Old Depot in February, 2013 when long-time director Jean Martin left for medical reasons. Before arriving at Old Depot, Spivey spent 14 years at International Paper. She said International Paper supports her at Old Depot.

“I never thought I’d work in a museum, but I absolutely love it,” Spivey said. “I never thought I’d meet Abigail Disney either.”

Spivey has traveled across the country over the years, including New York City and lived briefly in Mobile, but she loves Selma dearly.

“I love knowing everybody,” Spivey said. “I am very comfortable here. People trust me, that’s nice.”

Spivey would like to see Selma’s perception changed on the national scale.

“The world uses Selma for its own benefit and then forget about the city,” Spivey said.

Family is very important to Spivey. Her daughter, Mary Vincent Lewis, 17, will graduate from Morgan Academy this spring, with plans to attend Wallace Community College-Selma and become a nurse.