Come for the history, stay for the hospitality!
Nestled atop a bluff overlooking the Alabama River on U.S. Highway 80, Selma hosts thousands of tourists year-round from all over the world who come to view historic sites that date back to the early 1800s. Join us for Spring Pilgrimage where visitors have a chance to experience hands-on history through guided tours of private homes, museums, and more. Be captivated by Selma’s special blend of Southern graces and historic places as you tour Alabama’s largest historic district.
Selma’s Pilgrimage draws visitors from near and far to experience its diverse history and architecture. Angie Detoro is among those who attends almost every year. She has come to the Selma Pilgrimage for the past 10 years. “I drive from Colorado to Tennessee to pick up my mom and sister, then continue the drive to Alabama. We love the beautiful architectural history of Selma. We appreciate the efforts of the Selma Pilgrimage Committee who make this possible, as well as the countless volunteers we have met over the years and the individuals who so graciously open their lovely homes for the tour. We look forward to attending this year,” she said.
The 2017 tour will start in the downtown historic district at Ticket Headquarters in front of the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum, 109 Union Street. This stop is often called a microcosm of Selma history with its many unique collections. Next pilgrims will enjoy touring through one of the oldest homes in Selma and then marveling at the adaptive re-use of a grand home that is now a business and entrepreneurial incubator. Step back in time as you tour a private home with splendid woodwork that was built as a town home for the family of an overseer of a large plantation in the Safford area. The morning won’t be complete without a stop at Sturdivant Hall, lauded as the finest example of Greek Revival Neo-Classical architecture in the Southeast; it has several unique features including a rare L-shaped hallway and a cantilever staircase. Take a short ride down historic Water Avenue to the old L & N Railway Depot, now known as the Old Depot Museum. This beautiful building houses an interpretive history museum that has an impressive collection of artifacts and memorabilia depicting life in Selma and Dallas County from the days of the pre-historic Indians, to the Civil War, and up through Selma’s days of the Civil Rights Movement.
After a delightful lunch at a BBQ joint where the locals go, a typical southern meat-and-three diner, farm-fresh home-cooking at a Farmers’ Market or more you will want to drive north to tour a home in Summerfield never before open to the public. This unique house was built on the husband’s family farm with lots of special touches that will show that the wife is very proud of her English heritage as well as an extremely talented artist. A stop at Valley Creek Presbyterian Church is next to admire the 1850s Greek Revival red brick church and hear stories of their past. Kenan’s Mill, an 1850’s gristmill, remains one of the most interesting sites in Dallas County. The mill will be operating each afternoon and freshly-ground corn meal and grits will be for sale. When you come back into town you will want to stop at Heritage Village to tour an 1840s cottage and five other 1800s structures. Next will be an 1892 Victorian house that has been home to many families, a boarding house for school teachers and the residence for actress Jessica Lange while filming in Selma. A short drive will take you back to the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge where you can tour the three floors of exhibits in the NPS Interpretive Center and perhaps walk across the historic Edmund Pettus Bridge. Be certain to take time to visit the Selma Art Guild Gallery and observe the fine work by the Alabama Plein Air artists during the weekend. Their finished works will be for sale at the gallery from 4:30 until 6 pm on Saturday.
Friday evening’s reception from 6-8 pm will be held in Sardis beneath the shelter of ancient oaks and magnolias in the stately and beautifully restored Hain-Harrelson House. Fascinating features of the home include the massive columns (brought on the river by boat and then by mule wagons to the site, a rectangular shaped window made of leaded glass in the “Tree of Life” pattern and the center hall measuring 12′ wide by 54′ long. All main rooms measure 18′ wide by 21′ deep. The house is constructed almost entirely of heart pine and cypress and the interior walls are sand plaster. You will feel like a visitor to another time period when you tour this magnificent home and enjoy light refreshments.
Updates are posted on Facebook at “Selma’s Historic Pilgrimage.” You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 334-412-8550 or 800-45-SELMA (800-457-3562). We suggest you go in numerical order–but you may blaze your own trail–just remember that some homes and museums are only open until 1:00 pm and some homes open at 1:00 pm.
Sponsored by the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society, Pilgrimage began in 1976 as a way to share the city’s variety of architectural styles and rich history. Selma’s historic district features more than 1200 structures.
Click on each image below to view for the 2017 brochure or click here for the pdf download.
Please check back frequently for updates.
A very special thanks to Janet Gresham for her wonderful photography and copy writing on our brochure and this website. Please visit Janet’s blog about Selma. I’d also like to thank Andy Burton and the Selma Times Journal for their contributions. If you have questions about Pilgrimage, please print the Selma Pilgrimage Brochure or email us at Info@SelmaPilgrimage.com and someone will get back to you as quickly as possible. Hope to see you at one of the best events in Alabama, Selma’s 42nd Annual Historic Pilgrimage.