The Alabama Constitution Village is a remarkable representation of what life was like back in 1819. This living history museum has reconstructed buildings on their original build sites. I happened to find this quaint little village on my walking tour through Huntsville and thoroughly enjoyed my time exploring it.
It is gated so; you have to go in the Main Entrance through the Confectionery Shop. Once in there, you will meet wonderful ladies who will help you purchase your ticket and give advice on what to see. As you walk from the outside of the shop to the door to the village, you are transported back almost 200 years. Everyone is in period costume and willing to share what it was like for their particular job back in 1819.I wandered into The Clay Building. The original Huntsville Post Office is here, along with law offices and a Federal Survey team. It is amazing to see how we used to communicate by writing with quills and sealing the letters with wax. Now everyone has smart phones permanently attached to their hands. I miss the days when I received handwritten letters.One building you cannot miss seeing inside is Constitution Hall. This is where the Alabama Constitution was drafted on July 5th, 1819 for them to become a State. This cabinetmaker’s shop was the largest building in the area that could house all the delegates from the Convention. Can you imagine this room packed with people all voicing their concerns and hopes for Alabama’s statehood?Constitution Village has 18 main buildings. Many of them with active displays like the blacksmith shop. You can see a working blacksmith use the tools they used in 1819. I also saw people tending the Herb Garden behind the Neal House. Other buildings showcase the furniture and personal items to give you a sense of the time period. And how they lived and got by without the creature comforts that we take for granted today. Each building is connected by paths so; you can be sure you won’t miss anything.
The Neal House
As in most historical villages, there is one family that is showcased. At Constitution Village, it is the Neal family. The Neal family lived in a beautiful Federal period town house. The father was the first sheriff of Madison County, Stephen Neal. Each room inside and outside the main house gives a great view into how this family survived and thrived back then.
How they all crammed into one bedroom, no separate rooms for the kids. The Loom room where the ladies would make their clothing. The kitchen is separate from the main house which back then was smart for fire and smoke protection. They also have a separate dairy building to store the food items that needed to stay cold. Other buildings to explore are the Slave and Apprentice Quarters, and the Carriage House.
The ultimate in luxury…Necessary House. Need I say more? My aunt has a photo collection of outhouses from her travels. I’ll have to make sure she adds this one to her collection.
It was a simpler life back then. After a hard day of work on the farm, you could sit on the porch and relax. Where you could drink a glass of sweet tea, play checkers or work on some vegetables for the next day’s meal.
Look a Little Closer
I was conversing with one lady and she asked where I was from and I told her Michigan. She exclaimed that is where she used to live. We had a very nice conversation and at the end, she told me a little secret. Right outside the village, turn left and go around the corner. In between two benches, there is a photo opportunity for you. I took her at her word and checked it out when I left the village. It didn’t look like much but, you had to dig deeper. And exactly where she said was an amazing photo op of imprints of Huntsville students following in the footsteps of Alan B. Shepard. He is the first man in space and a lunar explorer. What a neat tribute to the space industry and tie into the community. I would have never have known this was here if she hadn’t taken the time to share this little space nugget with me.This is why I found Huntsville, Alabama an amazing place to visit and explore. As you dig deeper into each of the traditional visitor hot spots you will find hidden treasure gems that make Huntsville more endearing. To the point that you will want to come back and see what else you can find when you dig a little deeper!