Tourism Tuesdays February 12, 2019

National Trust names the most important, interesting places of the last 40 years

Southern Living: The Tour Minister at this Alabama Church Will Change Your Life

New Netflix movie to film in Birmingham bringing new pro golf tour to Prattville

Come to Muscle Shoals for the Music

Work on Sheffield bed and breakfast continues

African-Americans have shaped Alabama’s and America’s cuisine

Feb. 17 event celebrates state flower

Alabama’s first cat café, is coming to Birmingham

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


National Trust names the most important, interesting places of the last 40 years
From the article on

The staff of Preservation, the magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has compiled a list of 40 of the most important, most interesting, and quirkiest American places 40 years old or less. From the Googleplex in California to the Very Large Array observatory in New Mexico, Prince’s Paisley Park home in Minnesota and the buildings of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., each place on the list makes an important contribution in one of six categories: Arts, Science and Tech, Culture, History, Landscapes, and Housing.

Alabama has two places on the list of forty.

National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Montgomery, Alabama
Conceived to honor the victims of lynchings throughout the South, this Montgomery, Alabama, memorial creates a contemplative space for visitors to reflect on racial inequality, helping begin a process of national healing and reconciliation.

Rural Studio, Newbern, Alabama
Since Auburn University’s Rural Studio was first created in 1993, it has taught over 1,000 architecture students how to design and build all sorts of buildings. Located in rural Alabama, the studio serves a need in the community for affordable, elegant, and durable structures.

For the complete article please see

Southern Living: The Tour Minister at this Alabama Church Will Change Your Life
From the article by Valerie Fraser Luesse on

A joyful, passionate powerhouse of positive energy, Wanda Battle is director of the tour ministry at Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama — the church Martin Luther King, Jr., pastored.

Leading tours at this MLK church is not just her job — it’s her calling, her sacred mission.

“The tour is not just a historical journey,” Battle explains. “It represents a message of love, of struggle, of hope and overcoming, which are all the principles of human existence — for us to love each other as brothers and sisters and to be what Dr. King called the beloved community.  That’s how God has helped me to understand the legacy of Dr. King. I want to be a better person and to do better every day in how I treat other people.”

It’s hard to explain the experience of touring King Memorial with Battle. She’s definitely not a “buy your ticket, right this way, that concludes our tour” kind of guide. She engages with everybody on her tours — and helps them to connect with each other. “Think of one thing you love about yourself,” she might challenge you, “because you have to love yourself before you can love other people.”

In the basement of King Memorial, she gathers her group into Dr. King’s office and brings to life his love of books and lifelong learning. Just outside his office is an unassuming podium, the kind your church probably keeps in the fellowship hall for meetings and Bible studies. Dr. King stood behind it at the state Capitol the day he addressed the Selma to Montgomery marchers. And if you think Battle is just going to tell you about that podium, you’re mistaken. She’s going to invite you to preach from it, briefly. Each member of the tour group steps behind it and repeats those famous words: “How long? Not long!”

“I think what’s happening right now is a real renaissance in civil rights and human rights because there are so many issues in our society,” Battle says. “Many groups are now taking their place to march and to send letters, to call and advocate for causes that they feel are important.”

Battle grew up in Montgomery. Two of the businesses her family owned were a funeral home and a taxi service, both of which helped transport the black community during the bus boycott. What many people don’t realize, she explains, is how improbable King Memorial’s very existence is. First, it’s a church founded by wealthy black families — on a predominately white street. Many years later, when the state considered claiming eminent domain and taking the property, the move was unsuccessful because, by then, the church had been designated a National Historic Landmark. The Klan burned crosses near it but never fire bombed it or structurally damaged it. Battle has a simple explanation: “I see that as the protection of God.”

She also has an explanation for a resurgence of interest in Montgomery and everything that has happened there. “People are fascinated by this history of overcoming and standing for what is right, for advocating and doing it in love,” Battle says. “For you see the result of what love does as opposed to what hatred does. Hatred is destructive. Dr. King advocated love for all mankind.”

For the complete article please see

New Netflix movie to film in Birmingham
From the article by Hanno van der Bijl in the Birmingham Business Journal:

A period piece is gearing up to film in Birmingham.

Borderline Films and Ninestory is slated to start filming “The Devil All the Time” from Feb. 19 to Apr. 19, according to film platform Project Casting.

Birmingham attorney Rob Wolfe’s film company, Wolfe Management Group, is providing production services.

Based on the novel by Donald Ray Pollock, the script is written by Antonio and Paulo Campos. Antonio Campos is also directing the film.

“Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, ‘The Devil All The Time’ follows a cast of compelling and bizarre characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s,” according to IMDb.

Starring Tom Holland, the movie also will feature actors Chris Evans, Bill Skarsgård, Mia Wasikowska, Mia Goth, Robert Pattinson, Eliza Scanlen, Tracy Letts and Gabriel Ebert.

Producers include Max Born, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jacob Jaffke, Riva Marker, Annie Marter and Randall Poster.

The movie is expected to be released in 2020 on Netflix, which has acquired distribution rights.

The film industry in Alabama and Birmingham continues to grow rapidly with new movies filming on a more regular basis than just a couple years ago. Shooting for “Hell on the Border” wrapped up this week at the Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park in McCalla, and Southpaw Entertainment is expected to shoot “Inheritance” in Birmingham beginning in February.

Several companies have also been formed since the state started providing incentives to production companies in 2009. Last year, Chris Mullinax launched Alabama Film Solutions in Pelham, and Wolfe launched Birmingham Film Group. Wolfe also started Hollywolfe Entertainment LLC in 2006 and Wolfe Management Group LLC in 2016.

For the complete article please see bringing new pro golf tour to Prattville
From the article by Marty Roney on

Officials with the Tour announced a new golf tournament coming to Prattville this year.

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship will be held at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill’s Senator Course April 15-21.

According to a release from Tour officials, 156 players will be competing for $550,000 in prize money.

“We are excited to once again partner with the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail as we deliver a tremendous new event on the Tour,” said Tour President Alex Baldwin said in the release. “The Senator Course has a wonderful history on our Tour and in our sport, and we are confident that the passionate golf fans in Alabama will enjoy the opportunity to get up close to the game’s next wave of PGA Tour stars.”

Spectators will see the “future of the PGA,” on the links, said Jonathan Romeo, tournament director.

“There are two ways to get in the PGA,” he said. “There’s Q (Qualifying) School, which is almost impossible. And there”s winning on the Web. So the players are definitely playing for more than just a nice purse. They want to go on to the tour.”

Prattville has hosted some type of professional golf event since 2001, with the Tour Championship, the precursor of The city has also hosted LPGA events. The tournament means an economic boost for the area, said Mayor Bill Gillespie Jr.

“We are going to see our hotel rooms filled, our restaurants will see customers, our shops,” he said. “This is good not only for Prattville, but for the River Region as a whole.”

“It’s more than just the 156 golfers. It’s tournament officials, it’s the media that follow these events. It’s the golfers family and fans. So we will see an economic boost.”

The tournament is a short turnaround, about three months compared to the usual year and-a-half time frame, Romeo said.

“No other place could get ready in such a short time,” he said. “It’s our history of putting on large events, it’s the absolutely fantastic facility at Capitol Hill, it’s our reputation for Southern Hospitality and it’s the support we get from the community.”

“Usually we have a year to a year and a half to get ready. But we will pull this off because of our experience.”

According to the release, “tournament week will feature player practice rounds on Monday and Tuesday, with a pro-am slated for Wednesday. The first official round of play will begin on Thursday, with the field cut to the low 65 players and ties following Friday’s second round. The final two rounds of play will be contested on Saturday and Sunday, with a trophy ceremony immediately following the conclusion of the tournament.”

“This is the 23rd consecutive year professional golf has been played on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, and we look forward to welcoming the Tour, its players and fans back for the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail Championship,” said John Cannon, President of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

The Tour is known as “The Path to the PGA Tour.” It allows players of high caliber to earn the coveted PGA Tour cards, which allows them to play at the highest professional level in golf.

“Last year, eight players from the Class of 2017 won PGA titles, including Ryan Armour, Austin Cook, Ted Potter, Brice Garnett, Andrew Landry, Aaron Wise, Troy Merritt and Andrew Putnam. Wise’s victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson last May was the 500th by a former Tour player — a list which includes 23 major championships and eight Players Championships,” the release stated.

For the complete article please see

Come to Muscle Shoals for the Music
From the article by Steve Bergsman on

“Now Muscle Shoals has got the Swampers. And they’ve been known to pick a song or two. (Yes, they do.) Lord, they get me off so much. They pick me up when I’m feeling blue. Now how ’bout you?” — “Sweet Home Alabama,” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The Swampers were a group of session musicians who played at a small recording studio in the tiny Alabama burg of Muscle Shoals. In 1959 Rick Hall founded the first recording studio in the area in the neighboring town of Florence and called it FAME, which was an acronym for Florence Alabama Music Enterprise. He also discovered there was a lot of local talent in northern Alabama, so when someone came in to record a song, he brought in the boys — Barry Beckett (keyboard), Roger Hawkins (drums), David Hood (bass) and Jimmy Johnson (guitar) — who were officially called the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section but unofficially the Swampers.

Hall scored a few minor hits before bringing in another local fellow named Percy Sledge to sing “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which became a No. 1 record, and pretty soon such great soul singers as Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin were coming down to record.

Then in 1969 the Swampers had a falling out with Hall, and the musicians created their own music studio and called it Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. That only doubled the number of musicians coming in to town, including most famously the Rolling Stones, who recorded “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses” at the studio. Just about anyone who was anyone wanted to record in Muscle Shoals — Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Paul Simon, the Staple Singers, Bob Seger and many more.

I recount all this because both the FAME and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio are open to visitors, and for music buffs this surfeit of song is like finding religious relics. The latter studio closed in 1979, but the building has been completely restored and is chockablock with original instruments, artifacts and memorabilia. Even the bathroom has been preserved because Keith Richards sat in the quiet little space to write “Wild Horses.”

The FAME studio, which once sat in the middle of open fields, has seen civilization catch up and surround it. Nevertheless, it is still open for business. I came in just after such singers as Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Demi Lovato, Allison Krauss, Keb Mo and Alan Jackson had recorded and departed.

I sat in the recording booth with Ron Hall, son of the founder who died earlier in the year. He had been hanging around the studio since he was old enough to walk, so I asked who he remembered most from the old days. The surprise answer was the Osmond Brothers.

“I was about 7 years old and Donnie Osmond was slightly older,” he said. “We used to play ball together.”

In the old days singers would record together with musicians. Now, of course, singers may never even see the musicians. They just lay down vocal tracks, which are then digitally connected to either instrumentation or computer-generated sounds. When Lovato was here she had never been in a recording studio with real musicians, Hall said.

Music buffs flock to Muscle Shoals to visit the studios, but there is an extraordinary bonus to visiting the area. W.C. Handy, who wrote “Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis Blues” and is considered the father of the blues, was born in Florence. His boyhood home has been preserved and is now part of the W.C. Handy Birthplace, Museum and Library.

The 1912 publication of the “Memphis Blues” sheet music introduced to the world the 12-bar blues making it the first blues song for the masses. And unlike most blues singers Handy could write music, and that led to a successful career as a music publisher.

There are literally hundreds of items from Handy’s life in the museum, but my favorite was a copy of “Rhapsody in Blue” sheet music on which George Gershwin inscribed these lines to Handy: “Whose early ‘blue’ songs are the forefathers of this work.”

In nearby Tuscumbia sits the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. This is not to be missed if for no other reason than that so many great musicians were born and bred in Alabama or made their mark here, from Hank Williams to Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington to Tammy Wynette and groups such as Alabama and Shenandoah to Lionel Richie and the Commodores. They’ve all contributed to this enterprise and provided some great surprises, from Alabama’s first tour bus to one of the few remaining Hank Williams performing outfits to the contract Elvis Presley signed with RCA Records. Dewey Phillips, the disc jockey who first played Presley’s records on the radio, was from Alabama.

“Each time someone went to Muscle Shoals, they came back with a hit,” singer Clarence Carter famously said. Go see why he was right.

For the complete article please see

Work on Sheffield bed and breakfast continues
From the article by Russ Corey on

With the opening of Red Clay Table in downtown Sheffield, Grant Copeland is now moving forward with the construction of a bed and breakfast in an old downtown bank building.

The new bed and breakfast is next door to the restaurant, which is operated by Chef Alan Phillips.

Copeland is the son of businesswoman Laquita Logan, who owns Zoey Belle’s clothing store and Salon 310, and a new business in Tuscumbia. He owns Sheffield Hardware, which is next door to Red Clay Table.

“We have all the bed and breakfast rooms laid out,” Copeland said. “All the rooms will be themed.”

One room will have a music-related theme with local music memorabilia on the walls, and another will resemble a farmhouse. One will resemble the inside of a cabin while another will resemble the interior of a castle. He said one will be a “bride and groom suite.”

The eight units will be on the second floor, Copeland said.

There will be five apartments in the building, he said — three on the second floor and two in the basement. The building has a basement, a ground floor and a second floor, Copeland said.

“We’ve got all the walls framed up so we can see what the space looks like,” Copeland said.

A contractor is also running electrical wiring on the courtyard side of the building where the second floor will be built.

Laquita Logan said the bed and breakfast will be called “Briley’s B&B.”

“We were going to do an open-air courtyard, but we’re completely closing that in to get more apartments upstairs,” Copeland said.

The ground floor will include a lobby and a commercial kitchen to complement an event center that can accommodate 350 to 400 people.

Copeland said he has apartments above Sheffield Hardware, and Laquita Logan has apartments above The Rock. They’re all occupied, he said.

The ground floor of the bed and breakfast will include the Sheffield Museum, which former recording studio owner and Alabama Music Hall of Fame Executive Director David Johnson said would include items related to the history of Sheffield, and music memorabilia related to the city.

He said the history would date back to the days of the blast furnaces on the Tennessee River to the present.

Johnson, who owns David Johnson Productions, said he has items from his days with Broadway Recording Studio and items that have been donated.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have things they want to give me,” Johnson said. “I’m just looking forward to seeing what all I end up getting and laying it out properly.”

Copeland said there is about a year’s worth of work to be done before the bed and breakfast opens.

For the complete article please see

African-Americans have shaped Alabama’s and America’s cuisine
From the article by Bob Blalock on

If you are what you eat, Alabamians are barbecue and banana pudding, fried chicken and pork chops, pound cake and pecan pie, fried green tomatoes and okra, catfish and shrimp, grits and greens, peach cobbler and sweet potato pie, buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, sliced tomatoes and macaroni and cheese, pimento cheese and boiled peanuts and so much more.

Food flavors Alabama’s rich history and culture, helping define who we are as a people and state. But who defined the food that defines us? In large measure, it has been African-Americans.

Beginning with slavery through the Civil War and Reconstruction, from brutal, segregated Jim Crow days through civil rights tragedies and triumphs, to today when we celebrate food and cooking and restaurants and chefs, African-Americans shaped our cuisine. From the time Africans were forced into slavery in America, they and their descendants influenced and enhanced what we eat and grow in Alabama, across the South and the rest of the country.

“The introduction of enslaved African people to the region in the early 18th century drove … cultural and culinary exchange,” wrote Dana J. Alsen in “The Alabama Food Frontier,” a recent report commissioned by the Southern Foodways Alliance for the Alabama Tourism Department. “Antebellum Alabama foodways were a melting pot of international cultures. European and African traditions became most pronounced.”

New foods brought from Africa in the holds of slave ships soon filled that melting pot and became staples in Alabamians’ diets as well as crops for farmers.

“We have stories of Africans literally hiding seeds in their hair so certain crops like okra and some of the spices that are common now in our diets were brought over literally on the bodies of enslaved Africans,” said Derryn Moten, chairman of the Department of History and Political Science at Alabama State University in Montgomery.

For the complete article please see

Feb. 17 event celebrates state flower
The National Camellia Show in Mobile on Feb. 17 will celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial and the 60th anniversary of Alabama’s state flower with the floral fireworks of hundreds of camellias.

The free event, co-sponsored by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission as part of our 200th anniversary of statehood, will be from 1-5 p.m. at the Mobile Convention Center, 1 South Water St.

It will begin with a ribbon-cutting by state and local leaders, followed by a “second line” brass band leading into the show.

The Alabama Camellia Society will hold the event in conjunction with the National Camellia Show of the American Camellia Society, which is coming to the show to help with the celebration. Top camellia specialists from across the nation will attend, displaying hundreds of camellias.

This event is made possible with the generous support of Aaron Oil Co., Access MD, Airbus Americas USA, Alabama Power Co., Austal Marine, Mr. Charles M. Shirk, Burr & Forman, Mobile County Commission, Springhill Memorial Hospital, Flowerwood Nursery, the Japan-America Society of Alabama, the City of Greenville, Visit Mobile, Willis-Towers Insurance, and numerous others.

For the complete article please see

Alabama’s first cat café, is coming to Birmingham
From the article by Patience Itson on

Meet Kelli and Stephen Steward, the entrepreneurs behind Gatos and Beans.

The Stewards were awarded second place and $10,000 in start-up money for Gatos and Beans.

“The competition was fun and scary since I am not a fan of public speaking,” Kelli said of her experience during the Big Pitch. “But we are very excited and can’t wait to open our doors as the first cat café in Alabama!”

The Concept
So what exactly is a cat café? Well… combine a cat adoption center with a café and you pretty much have the concept down.

Gatos and Beans will be a two-part business. One half of the building will feature a coffee shop/wine bar, while the other half will be an animal adoption center. Sorry pups. Only felines allowed at this cat café!

A place to chill and visit with snuggly, purring cats? If you’re a cat lover like me, this sounds like heaven on Earth. Especially being able to adopt a darling cat and help an animal in need.

Gatos and Beans has partnered with local animal rescue Kitty Kat Haven, who will provide the adoption center with cats who are in need of a good home. The rescue will also be responsible for the vet care, food, litter and other essential needs of the cats in the adoption center. The Stewards and employees of Gatos and Beans will provide the day-to-day care of the animals.

The Café
The Café side of Gatos and Beans will feature a coffee/bar and seating area for folks to hang out and grab a beverage or baked good. There will also be Gatos and Beans merchandise available for purchase and work from local artists on display.

The couple would also like to help promote other local businesses by selling their coffee, tea, beer and wine at Gatos and Beans.

The Adoption Center
While the café adds a fun, hip element to Gatos and Beans, Kelli said the main focus is the cats, adding, “We want to facilitate as many cat adoptions as possible.”

For $10 per hour, you’ll receive a free coffee or tea and entry into the adoption center to pet, play with and adopt a new furry friend. (You can upgrade to a latte or other drink of choice for an additional charge.)  It’s not like a typical shelter with cages either. Here, all cats will roam free inside the adoption center.

For the complete article please see For the complete article please see

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Love is in the air. Do you have a special Valentine’s event? The Inspire Me feature allows you to tag events with the feeling and experience they offer. For a Valentine’s event, the tags may be “romance,” “music,” “relaxation,” or “food” to name a few. Not hosting anything special on February 14th? No problem. Any event can be tagged. The combinations are numerous.

To see how the Inspire Me feature works, go to to get started.


Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

To subscribe to the newsletter please contact Dwayne O’Riley at:

Alabama Tourism Department