Preserving Historic Buildings

Planning the Future of Downtown's Historic Buildings

The historic buildings and homes in downtown Huntsville are important part of the city's charm, culture, and southern heritage. Three of these major structures are in transition, and we want to know your ideas on what should happen next with these buildings. The two school properties are listed on the State of Alabama's historic register, and approval for renovations must be granted by the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission. The bank building is listed on the National Historic Register.

First National Bank of Alabama on Jefferson Street.

1836One of Huntsville's most iconic and recognizable structures, this Greek Revival bank was built on the Courthouse Square in 1835. It served as a bank until 2010, when Regions Bank deeded the property for community use via an arrangement with the Historic Preservation Authority. The City needs a plan and funding for the building's use and maintenance. What do you think should happen to the building?





East Clinton Elementary School on East Clinton Street in Old Town.

1938The site of the first school to be built in Huntsville, East Clinton Elementary is the third school structure on the property (see timeline of photos at the bottom of the page). Built in 1926 in the Art Deco style, it closed in 2012. Huntsville City Schools would like to sell the property to help fund capital improvements in other areas. It also costs the school system about $39,000 - $42,000 per year just to keep the building in its current state. The school system is asking $1,564,000 million for the 3.62 acre property. The building has 39,100 SF under cover.



Annie Merts Center

1836 Home to the Huntsville City Schools administrative offices, this former school building sits on the corner of Randolph and White Streets. Built in 1928 in the Renaissance Revival style, it served as a high school. In 1987, the building was converted into administrative offices. Huntsville City Schools is considering selling the property along with the nearby parking lot across White Street.





Evolution of Education on Clinton Avenue


1882Huntsville’s first public school building was built in 1882 on the site of the present East Clinton Elementary School.














This larger brick building was erected only 20 years later in 1902 on the same East Clinton Avenue site as the first frame building.This larger brick building was erected only 20 years later in 1902 on the same East Clinton Avenue site as the first frame building.









By 1938 the East Clinton Avenue site had yet another school, this Art Deco style building, which is still in use as East Clinton Elementary School.



By 1938 the East Clinton Avenue site had yet another school, this Art Deco style building, which was used as East Clinton Elementary School until June 2012.









Campaign: Preserving Historic Buildings

Retail

In all of the great bustling cities I've been too, there are three things I've noted. They successfully combine shops with local flavor and popular retail stores along with walker/bicycle-friendly city centers. I think popular retail stores in a non-traditional setting are key, Local shops are nice but expensive. places like Trader Joe's and Urban Outfitters, and even drug stores and Subways bring people and money. And ...more »

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Year Round Farmer's Market

I would like to see the Clinton Street School converted into a year round. heated and cooled Market for locally grown and Cottage Produced Foods. A place to stroll and enjoy all year round. There could also be a community children's garden on the grounds. Children could be encouraged to garden and learn healthy ways to eat.

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Gigabit Internet for Huntsville

Huntsville is a technology center that is teeming with all types of technology companies. Huntsville should pursue something similar to what Chattanooga did with their Gigibit Internet network that their electric company EPB did while modernizing their electric network. If Huntsville established a similar network it could attract internet startup's to the Valley. Chattanooga has already seen results of their work with ...more »

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The old Regions Bank building

Use the old Bank for meetings, patries etc. This building should be shared with the public, this idea has already been instituted but was never nurtured, many clients were lost due to lack of action. The building should also be included on the city and county school field trip iist. Run this properly and you will result in more and more people downtown.

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California Street includes Historic Residences & Other Old Homes

Most of California Street is lined with residences. There is the neighborhood school and the hospital. Both sides of California have dangerously narrow sidewalks and this is an active pedestrian area for people of all ages. Finding a safe level area for walking, running or bicycling typically involves having to cross or to use California Street to continue onto the other level areas of the neighborhood. The west side ...more »

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Arcade/Indie Film Theater

By day, an arcade for families to have something else to do together downtown besides feeding the ducks and fish. Arcades are making a comeback on the nostalgia factor for 30 something parents who spent all their time in arcades as children. And this will be a pleasent alternative to Chuckie Cheese! By night, an Indie Film theater. That Huntsville doesn't already have one of these astounds me. Indie Film theaters ...more »

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Providing Non-Profits with a Rent-Free Venue

Would it not be great to use a section of buildings such as the Old Regions Bank, the Merts Center, or East Clinton School for rent-free use to non-profits for meetings of groups such as our poetry and writers groups; or as a venue for our visiting writers? Reservations would be first come, first served, with a set date or dates for making these reservations every 6 months. Kitchen privileges ...more »

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Huntsville Ballet

Huntsville Ballet Company and school (Community Ballet) is looking to relocate to the downtown area. The addition of a educational arts insitution (Huntsville Ballet) to a downtown location would bring up to 2000 more people downtown.

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Annie Merts Performing Art Center

Turn the Annie Merts Center into a Performing Arts Center: • Maintain a significant, historic property in the heart of Huntsville. • Provide a cost-effective and synergistic central facility for community performing arts groups. • Enrich the Huntsville cultural scene with a new practice and performance venue. • Add to the vibrancy of the Downtown community. • Save money for performing arts groups The Annie Merts ...more »

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Realistic Plans for Preserving The Old Regions Bank Building

The Historic Huntsville Foundation supports the adaptation of the historic First National Bank of Alabama in a way that supports a thriving downtown Huntsville, whether as a community arts center or privately-owned condos. Nearly two hundred years ago, Huntsville’s founders invested in this building as a symbol of their belief in Huntsville’s prosperous future. History has proven them correct. It is critical that ...more »

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Dinner theater

The location is what presents a key opportunity to create a much needed tourist attraction in downtown Huntsville. A dinner theater would provide jobs, support local farmers, and enhance on-going tourism and arts programs already working in Huntsville. With a bit of collaboration, a dinner theater right downtown could bring more people to the Ghost Walks, Art on the Square, Etc., (as they could make a full night of diverse ...more »

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Something Huntsville is good at...

Maybe we should just do what we've been good at over the years, just tear them down and sell the land to the highest bidder. Or put a parking lot or "modern" building in its place. If you know Huntsville history you know we recently demolished the old Health Department building to put in a parking lot. Many now regret that we tore down the old Greek Revival Courthouse and replaced it with the current one which opened ...more »

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Annie Mertz & East Clinton ideas from a neighbor

I grew up on Calhoun St & would walk over to the Mertz Center for dance classes (community ballet). It was wonderful to have this so close. Turning this space into a community arts center & renting space for artsy businesses is the way to go in my opinion. East Clinton's building is decrepit & unneeded. Lets sell it to Mr. Broadway, who by the by has right of refusal at this point not us, & let him develop 4-6 nice homes ...more »

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Climbing Gym at First National Bank on Jefferson St.

This might be an entirely delusional idea and quite selfishly motivated as well; however, Huntsville is due for its very own climbing gym to attract advanced, intermediate, and beginner climbers. With only one small climbing gym that is located on South Parkway and no plans of expansion while the climbing community in Huntsville grows, a climbing gym in the heart of Huntsville is not the most impractical of ideas. ...more »

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Turn Historic Bank into Indoor Waterpark

Look, I’m a simple man with simple wants. After a long day of lawyering a guy like me just wants to slide down a convoluted network of tubes that spills out into a large pool of chlorine mixed with water. But can I just stroll down the street at five o’clock, pop off my tie, and plop down in a lazy river? No! I, and every other lawyer/paralegal in this regressive city have to make the drive all the way out to Point Mallard ...more »

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Regions Bldg to Aquarium (like National Aquarium in DC)

With the National Aquarium, it is a nonprofit aquatic education and conservation organization. Can Huntsville do this too? Our one mission could be like National Aquarium, which would be to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures. Such animals as fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals living natural habitats could be viewed in the beautiful building design of the Regions Bldg. Have a goal ...more »

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Create An "Arts Bank" At Old Regions Bank Building On The Square

Create an “Arts Bank” arts and entertainment venue on Huntsville’s downtown square in the historic Regions Bank Building. Utilize the historic Regions Bank building to provide a critical programming venue to draw Huntsvillians and tourists alike to downtown entertainment, restaurants, and retail. With programmatic leadership from The Arts Council and its member arts and cultural groups, this City-owned venue could ...more »

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maple hill climbing park

the old field behind the cemetery seems like an area that could be put to use for a climbing park using the bluffs behind it and building a concourse like the railroad park's in birmingham, thats a simple storage container turned into an office with a canopy above...initial fundraising could be done through climbing groups, but upkeep and maintenance could be gained through taxes on the possiblity of food trucks coming ...more »

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Use East Clinton Building As A School

I was so happy to see that a private school wants to buy the East Clinton building. They want to buy it without making modifications to the exterior. This seems like the best option to protect our Old Town District's distinct character. Link to the newspaper article: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/02/private_school_wants_to_buy_ea.html

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Historic Preservation Commission

Some earlier posts have indicated a lack of confidence in the Historic Preservation Commission. Based on my experience with the Commission over the past twenty years, most of the Commission members are passionate about preservation and want to do the right thing. If the demolition of East Clinton comes to a public hearing, it's pretty certain there will be Commission members who will follow the guidelines of the Commission ...more »

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