As a followup to my review of a recent history of Selma, I’d like to share some photographs of my hometown I took a few years ago (2010 – 2011) when I was trying to experience it as a tourist might.
Sturdivant Hall, easily in the running for Selma’s most picturesque building. Originally a home, it now stands as a museum with gardens around it. There are several private residences that rival it for sheer beauty, but Sturdivant Hall is often used on tourism brochures.
My favorite house in Selma, sited on Lauderdale street.
A similar home on Parkman Avenue.
Brown Chapel, headquarters of the Selma movement during the Civil Rights era.
Temple Mishkan, testament to a Jewish community that was once considerable. In the late 19th century, Jewish merchants lined Broad Street. The interior of the Temple is unusual for having stained-glass windows depicting David and Esther; images of people are not common in Jewish houses of worship.
My favorite building in Selma. St. Paul”s Episcopal. When I began walking around Selma I found St. Paul’s particularly irresistible. I believe part of the magic is its courtyard; partially enclosed from the street by a low brick wall, it’s framed by the church on the left, a parish hall on the right, and cloistered administrative offices in the rear.
The tower of First Baptist edges out its neighbors’ — Cornerstone Presbyterian, St. Paul’s Episcopal, and Church Street Methodist. It’s a neogothic structure that gives Selma part of its signature skyline.
Who knew Baptists like gargoyles?
Curiously, there are just under a dozen homes in the city that have a marked Spanish-southwestern influence to them; some merely used stucco, and one looks like a hacienda buried in the jungle. This is a sedate example.
There is no shortage of fine homes standing in Selma, and since the obscene destruction of the Hotel Albert, the city’s citizens have been more conscience of the need to keep some abandoned beauties in good repair. Many former residences are now offices for lawyers, dentists, and the like.
Live Oak Cemetery, running alongside Dallas Avenue, is an eerie place to visit; filled with ornate monuments to previous generations, guarded by Spanish moss.
Not all of Selma’s downtown buildings are in use, but both the government and private foundations do their best to ensure that this kind of heritage is preserved.
Let’s end this little peek at Selma with its most iconic structure, the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That little yellow building on the right is the Bridgekeeper’s house, which formerly controlled another bridge which could pivot to allow ships passage. These days the only ships on this stretch of the Alabama are pleasure craft — fishing boats and the like — though bodies like the Black Warrior River still bear the odd cargo ship.