Selma's 38th Historic Pilgrimage today! - Montgomery Alabama news.

Selma's 38th Historic Pilgrimage today!

Beneath the moss-covered trees of Alabama's largest historic district, Selma opens its doors for the 38th annual Historic Selma Pilgrimage this weekend, Friday, March 15 and Saturday, March 16.

This year, Selma's impressive Jewish heritage, including Temple Mishkan Israel, The Harmony Club and downtown homes and businesses of former Jewish merchants are included in the tour along with other venues.

The story begins in the mid-1800s when Selma's first industrialist persuaded German citizens, many of them Jews, to immigrate to Central Alabama. They arrived on the bluffs of the Alabama River and established a variety of retail and wholesale stores. The newcomers contributed their time and skills to help build Selma into the "Queen City of the Black Belt," and their names remained prominent through the 19th and 20th Centuries. 

The tour includes: 

Kayser-Turner-Searcy House, an Italian Renaissance Revival home built by Jewish businessman Isidore Kayser. He owned Kayser Department Store, and this house incorporates ideas from his many travels.

The Harmony Club, a former Jewish social club turned residence plus first-floor Italian restaurant and antique shop. This century-old building was featured in The New York Times and on HGTV. Much of the interior remains original, including the huge ballroom. 

Koenigstahl-Williamson-Luker House, a handsome Queen Anne home that was owned by the family of Jewish businessman Levi Koenigstahl. The unusual mural on the parlor ceiling has been beautifully preserved.

Baker-Brooks House, an Old South home with Italianate influence built in 1858 by Selma businessman George O. Baker. Lincrusta, a wall covering made to simulate hand-tooled leather, is a highlight as well as door panels hand-painted by the Baker daughters (who were cousins of Tiffany artist Clara Weaver Parrish). 

Keith Law Office, an 1884 Gothic Revival that was the Keith family's homeplace. It may be the only law firm anywhere to claim an original carriage house and dairy barn as part of its property. 

Milhous-Jones-Childers House, an 1860 home that was built as a one-story brick stucco but remodeled in 1902 into the two-story beauty it remains today. This home will be on tour for the Friday evening reception only.

Temple Mishkan Israel, an 1899 Romanesque Revival where hundreds of Jews worshiped during the 20th Century. Featured are exquisite stained-glass windows and The Torah Scroll, which was built in 1841 by the Jewish scribe Baer Abernalfer of Bretagne, France. 

Adler Building, an 1860's Water Avenue business that once housed a wholesale grocery, cotton merchant, furniture store and now trading post. 

New this year are the Downtown Walking and Shopping Tour which begins at the Walton Theatre, and The Tin Man's Gallery, studio of renowned folk artist Charlie Lucas. The downtown tour includes a replica of Old Testament Tabernacle furnishings at Phoenix Park on Water Avenue. The exhibit was built by Mobile machinist Dewey Miller. 

Three museums, Sturdivant Hall, Vaughan-Smitherman, and Old Depot, will be open, and visitors are invited to the ArtsRevive Juried Art Show in the historic Carneal Building. The Selma Art Guild hosts both a show and sale by regional artists and the Alabama Plein Air Artists "Wet Paint" sale. 

Friday night events include the Old Live Oak Cemetery Tour where Selma's residents-at-rest tell how they helped shape history. Tours begin at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. Then, enjoy the ambience of a charming 1860 Old Town home for an evening reception. The Milhous-Jones-Childers House will be open from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Temple Mishkan Israel also plans a 6 p.m. service. 

Stop by Pilgrimage Headquarters between 8:30 and 4:30 at the Vaughan-Smitherman Museum (109 Union St.) for tickets and refreshments, then experience southern hospitality through guided tours. House tours are 9-1 and 1-5, but hours for other venues vary. 

Visit for more information or to download a brochure and to check special offers. Updates are posted on Facebook at "Selma's Historic Pilgrimage." You may also email or call 334-412-8550 or 800-45-SELMA (800-457-3562). Discounts are available for groups. 

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. 

INFORMATION SOURCE: Historic Selma Pilgrimage

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