Select Traveler

SEP-OCT 2013

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Page 16 of 53

Big Spring Park highlights Huntsville's high-tech industry. A D I V E R S E H I S T O RY During lunch downtown at Sam and Greg's, a local pizza eatery, I asked Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau; Pam Williams, her tourism sales manager; and Jessica Carlton, her marketing manager, what they most wanted bankers to take away from their trip to Huntsville next spring. "That we are not one-dimensional," they answered in unison. "The Space and Rocket Center is what the world knows us for, and rightfully so, but we have so much more to offer," said Ryals. "Our antebellum history, our thriving restaurant scene, our events — all are part of the story here. "We want these banks to come downtown and see for themselves everything you're seeing on this trip," said Williams. "Five years ago, there might have been five good restaurants downtown," Ryals said later as we got up to leave. "Today, there are five times that many. And more are on the way." They walked me over to Harrison Brothers Hardware Store on the city's square. It's one thing to preserve homes All photos courtesy Huntsville/Madison Co. CVB and structures, but to preserve Alabama's oldest continuously run hardware store is quite another. Established in 1871, the downtown icon is a hodge-podge of sights, including candies, gadgets, cookware and garments. Cluttered shelves climb the walls from its worn wood floors, and a wood-burning heater is still anchored in place as if waiting to be used. The city's antebellum home district, Twickenham, is the state's largest. Dozens of homes dating to the early 1800s have been restored and are being lived in, many with their builders' names and building dates noted by distinctive markers. Local guides drive or walk groups through this district almost daily. Williams pointed out the Pope House, built in 1814 on a hill overlooking Huntsville by the city's original developer, Leroy Pope. Then we saw what is called the Spite House, a very tall home that local legend says was built by a business adversary to block the panoramic view from Pope's home. Speaking of views, one of the best in Huntsville can be enjoyed from Burritt on the Mountain, a 167-acre preserve that sits atop Round-Top Mountain above the city. Dr. William Henry Burritt's distinctive mansion served as the catalyst for the B A N K T R A V E L M A N A G E M E N T. C O M 15

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