Tag Archives: downtown Huntsville

Backyard neighbors with Leroy Pope’s estate…

Backyard neighbors with Leroy Pope’s estate…

Years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Leroy Pope Mansion in Huntsville, Alabama, for the purpose of marketing it for sale.  The home was in the same family for generations and was later  granted to University of Alabama in Huntsville for use as the University President’s home.  The experience was an incredible walk through history.

The then-owner told us of her family’s escapades on the property’s sprawling grounds, approximately 6 acres in the very core of the city.  Horseback riding on the back lawn, cool summer breezes on one of many porches, the groundskeeper’s “boxwood hospital” on the property were a few stories I remember vividly.  The “boxwood hospital” was populated with boxwood shrubs as tall as any person I’ve ever met and as wide as an automobile… The plants would be transplanted to this area when they began to touch so that the leaves could fill back in wherever touching had caused the leaves to wither and die.  Full boxwoods would then be transplanted again throughout the property.  Fascinating.

My favorite experience of the entire period during which we marketed and sold this unparalleled property was all of the visits to the “widow’s walk”,  a dramatic name for a viewing area at the top of the home.  Up, up, up through the attic and into the absolute tippy top of the roofline one can see – literally- a 270 to 360 degree view of Huntsville, depending on the season.  True to form, Leroy Pope picked the highest point of his “city” and built his home where he could view every square inch of it.

Other properties were later built around the Pope Mansion, development occurred on the mountain east of it and small cities began nearby.  One of Pope’s former friends even built a house in front of it, stretching the ceiling heights to 16 feet in a spiteful attempt to block the city founder’s view.  Today, 200+ years later, that house is still well known as the “Spite House.”

So today, when I visit another unique downtown house built downhill of the north of the Pope Mansion’s front portico, I imagine a girl on a horse in a warm summer breeze, looking down the ivy covered hillside at a cozy Twickenham cottage being built on Eustis Street.  I wonder, did she still call the street “Maiden Lane” as it had been called in the past?  Did the ancestors of the red foxes of Twickenham roam the land then as they do today?  Oh, to be able to travel back in time to have a glimpse of times gone by…!

I look up the hillside in the backyard and see the home on the hill built by Huntsville’s first owner.  It’s a quiet view of history that is full of mystery, fun and nostalgia.  The backyard is visible from these photos for 418 Eustis, that quaint Twickenham cottage to Pope’s north.  It has been lovingly renovated only steps from the historic Courthouse Square.  Enjoy!






Summer in Huntsville


Summertime brings with it so many wonderful events here in the Tennessee Valley.  Here are just a few summer offerings that make us happy in Huntsville…

1.  Enjoying time on the Tennessee River, the Flint River, Guntersville Lake, Wheeler Lake or Tim’s Ford.  This includes crawfish boils at Ditto Landing and attending church at Guntersville’s Church on the Lake…


2. Summer Concerts in Big Spring International Park.  Every Monday night, the dock of the Huntsville Museum of Art hosts a different local band.  Picnics, folding chairs and dancing under the stars are enjoyed by young and old citizens alike.  Now thru mid-August.  http://www.artshuntsville.org/our-programs/concerts-in-the-park

Reunion photo concert in the park

3.  Graduations and dance recitals at the VBC.  Rarely a day goes by from late May through mid June that you won’t see little kids in tap shoes and sequins running to the Concert Hall along with graduates in caps and gowns taking pictures by Thrasher Fountain.  http://www.flickr.com/photos/iceman66/5535991778/

4.  Neighborhood pools-  Most areas offer a selection of neighborhood pools that become the summer hangouts and social areas through the summer months.  For a base membership fee plus an annual dues collection, these neighborhood pools organize swim meets, social events on holidays and swimming lessons for little ones.  Some even feature tennis courts as well.

5.  Green Street Market and other Farmer’s Markets around town: Thursday nights have become wonderful “farm to table” nights in downtown Huntsville with the creation of the “Green Street Market” nights.  Local vendors offer fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh flowers, culinary dishes, gluten free fare and more.  Artwork, herbs, bath products and farm fresh eggs are staples for GSM as well!  It has become so popular that South Huntsville has started their own Farmer’s Market and other neighborhoods are following suit.  http://www.greenestreetmarket.com/See all of the latest and greatest events coming up on http://www.ourvalleyevents.com

For all of the upcoming Summer events, be sure to check out www.ourvalleyevents.com.  You’ll see why we are Happy in Huntsville, especially in the summertime!

“Spaces” art exhibit going on NOW in Huntsville!


A group of civic minded folks have banded together over the last few years to create a group called the “Downtown 47”.  Though best known for recent New Year’s Eve parties (the group’s main fundraiser), the DT47 is broadening it’s impact in ways that I am particularly proud of.

One of those areas is the “Museum Madness,” an event mainly concentrated during breaks in the school year.  Museum Madness allowed the Downtown 47 to help advocate and advertise Huntsville’s plethura of musuems – art museums, history museums, science museums and more.

Now, a new project is brewing!  “Spaces” has hit Huntsville – and not just downtown.  University of Alabama-Huntsville and Alabama A & M University are benefiting from the explosion of art as well.  24 exhibits are now placed around the Courthouse square, Museum of Art, Von Braun Center, UA Huntsville, Alabama A & M and Lowe Mill, where a number of artists have galleries and studios.  The exhibit was organized by the Arts Council but required funding from the area to provide honorariums to the artists.  The Downtown 47 contributed a generous portion in support of arts endeavors that would enhance the look and feel of downtown Huntsville and other important parts of our city.

All I can tell you is that, during my continual excursions through downtown Huntsville everyday, “Spaces” brightens my day.  I noticed a cool fish sculpture

Grouper by Bruce Larsen - on West Side Square

in front of the historic bank building on West Side Square (one of Huntsville’s most noteworthy buildings, steeped in history) today and couldn’t help from grinning from ear to ear.  I now find myself searching for the other sculptures and enjoy them as though they’re surprises set out just for me.  Great part is, they’re out there for you, too, if you know where to look!

That’s one of the greatest parts of being “connected” to this city.  Not only do I appreciate the beauty, but I know the efforts of others that have made the beauty possible.  In this case, I can thank my fellow Downtown 47 friends, my Arts Council friends and our civic friends in leadership positions who were supportive of a little “redecorating” in our highest profile areas.   With “Spaces,” you’ll see 10 ft nails popping out of the sidewalk at UA Huntsville, a wooden family in front of Papou’s Greek restaurant on South Side Square and geometric pieces which will open your mind to a whole new level.

For more information, see this site and photos of the Spaces exhibits: