Harrison Brothers Hardware
124 Southside Square, Huntsville, AL 35801
Huntsville has been home to several women with significant stories, but many may not be aware of just how deep their historic roots extend. In Harrison Brothers Hardware on Huntsville’s historic courthouse square, the Historic Huntsville Foundation is presenting their historic exhibit known as “Rooted in History: Celebrating Women as Makers, Creators, Movers & Shakers.”
The show kicked off late May with a press conference at the store revealing artworks & artifacts featuring Huntsville’s history of notable women and their involvement in shaping the future for women’s rights. Rooted in History aligns beautifully in honoring National Preservation Month (also known as Historic Preservation Month).
“Rooted in History: Celebrating Women as Makers, Creators, Movers & Shakers’ is a project of the Historic Huntsville Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of Madison County’s historic places. HHF Executive Director Donna Castellano created the exhibit to complement HHF’s historic marker program that recognizes Huntsville’s suffrage and civil rights activists. The materials in the history exhibit are documents (many original), photographs, and public records that show the political activism of these heroic women through their personal histories and from their individual perspectives.”
Walking into the show, you’ll find several memorabilia on display from nearly 100 years ago; To name a few include a velvet jacket worn by Alberta Chapman Taylor from Huntsville’s suffrage movement held at Huntsville City Hall. Taylor was invited to speak by Susan B. Anthony, one of the greatest leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. Written documents range from a book signed by Howard Weeden, an American artist and poet originally from Huntsville, AL, a note written by screen actress Tallulah Bankhead, and a letter signed by American author and educator Helen Keller. Another piece on view is a listing from 1916 of the 1st Huntsville woman elected to public office known as Alice Boarman Baldridge, who ran for the Madison Country School Board.
Artist Sneak Peeks
Unique creations include several areas of artistry such as quilts, portraits, paintings, and beyond. A beautifully crafted quilt known as “Alabama Authors” was created by textile artist Tiavalya Befecadu, as well as one she created of Hellen Keller. Clay sculptures were built by artist Harold Turner that makes clay pieces based on different African American children he has met at the Boys & Girls program of Huntsville. A portrait titled, “Teacher and Classroom” is also on display of Ollye Conley, the very first principal of an integrated school. Conley also led Black history studies in the area through her focus centered around Glenwood Cemetery. The exhibit has so much more to discover in the areas of art, ceramics, and heirlooms.
Huntsville Historic Foundation Executive Director Donna Castellano notes, “This exhibit is part of HHF’s community-based preservation mission and an outgrowth of our work to recognize places where Huntsville women made history.” One of the cool facts about HHF is that it owns and operates Harrison Brothers Hardware as part of its nonprofit mission. If you’re curious to discover artworks and stories of the city, take a stroll down to the Harrison Brothers shop on the Huntsville courthouse square. Within its walls you’ll find yourself stepping into a multi-generational family business that remains standing as if it was 1897 yesterday. The original framework houses authentic items of the past including but not limited to original receipts, photographs, posters, and more! Other products are available for purchase reflecting the historic heart of its roots.
Lauren Handley has been a Huntsville native for 18 years. She has been a graphic designer for 9 years and loves using art and illustration as an inspiration to her community. In her spare time you’ll find her creating her next art print, enjoying an acai bowl, or finding a new paleo recipe to cook!