Historic walking tours continued in County Lawrence this week with a tour of historic sites along Byler Road in downtown Moulton on Saturday.
Moulton Tours continues the Alabama Department of Tourism’s annual April walking tour series for the area. Tours held at several communities across the state each Saturday in April are free and open to public participation.
Although Moulton has a long history with the April Walking Tours event, this year walkers and visitors have departed from their usual tour of the town square and instead focused on historic sites and points of interest along along Byler Road.
“I want to thank Ann Britnell for suggesting that we host the tours there,” said Marvin Jackson, president of the Lawrence County History and Preservation Society, who also helped organize and lead the tour Saturday.
He said the tour gave visitors and locals a better understanding of the growth as well as the rich history of the area along Byler Road, which runs through Moulton Districts 4 and 5.
“We wanted to highlight some things that are happening in the region and it gave us the opportunity to show how far this region has come,” he added. Jackson, who co-owns and operates the Hot Spot restaurant on Byler Road with his wife Elayne, said their historic building was part of the tour.
Participants first met at the historic Rosenwald School, now home to Moulton Head Start.
The historic site was one of 400 educational facilities built in Alabama and named for philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, creator of the Rosenwald Fund to provide matching funds to Rosenwald schools. Rosenwald Schools appeared throughout the South from 1917 to 1932 as part of a civic effort to increase educational opportunities for black students during a time of segregation and discrimination.
Moulton School was originally built near the site in the 1920s, according to a historical marker erected on Rosenwald Street.
“In the 1950s, new buildings replaced wooden structures,” the marker says. “Most of the bouldering, plastering and mortar mixing work was done by African American volunteers. Much of the funding came from faculty, students and their families.
The school was closed in the 1970s after desegregation laws were passed.
“We probably spent 45 minutes discussing school. It was very interesting and educational for everyone who attended,” Jackson said.
The tour also included stops at Byler Road Christ Church, Freeman Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, Moulton Cemetery, Smith Chapel CME Church, Hot Spot, and Jackson House.
Jackson said each site features a different speaker or tour guide. Nita Marlboro led the discussion at Rosenwald School, Lela Reeves at the Freeman Tabernacle, Louise Jackson at Byler Road Church of Christ and Carolyn Fletcher guided the Smith Chapel tour, he said.
The historic Moulton Cemetery portion of the tour included a skit and discussion by Cindy Praytor, Alicia Carpenter and Beth Gardener, Jackson added. Elayne Jackson led guests on a tour of the Hot Spot, and JoAnn Medendorp’s portion of the tour featured the Byler Road Mural, which was painted on a historic building on Pinhook Road opposite the Hot Spot. Medendorp’s daughter, Monica Hooper, painted the mural.
The tour ended at the Jackson House, which was built in the 1800s by Judge William Kumpe and later sold to Judge Will Jackson. The Jackson House Foundation, established in 2011 to care for and preserve the house, held a bake sale and offered refreshments onsite after the tour.
Alabama walking tours will continue in other communities next Saturday. Lawrence County’s final tour will take place in Town Creek on April 30.
Participants will meet at the Farmers Market on Alabama 101 in Town Creek at 1 p.m. The Town Creek tour will feature the Town Creek Public Library, historic Railroad Depot, Posey Farms General Partnership Cooperative, and other historic homes and buildings.
Other walking tours in the series include North Alabama communities in Athens, Decatur, and Shoals. For a full list of locally organized tours, visit the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area Facebook page. For more information on statewide tours, visit https://www.alabama.travel/trail-details/april-walking-tours.