City gets ready for weekend visitors

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 9, 2004

As local residents continue cleaning up and sprucing up their homes, lawns and gardens after the unwelcome visit by Hurricane Ivan, many folks are preparing for more visitors – but this time, the welcome mat is most certainly out.

The Alabama Historical Association (AHA) the state’s oldest history association, is coming to the Camellia City this weekend. The occasion is the AHA’s Annual Fall Pilgrimage, slated for this Saturday, October 9.

For the first time in over three decades, the group will be touring some of Greenville’s most historic and lovely homes and churches.

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Showing off the city’s finest

Once again, the Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society (BCHGS) will play host to the state group. Members are thrilled with this opportunity to show off the city’s finest in historical architecture.

&uot;We are so excited about this pilgrimage – we have been eagerly awaiting it for months,&uot; says BCHGS President Barbara Middleton.

Hundreds of visitors from across the state and region flocked to the city for the 1972 tour, and organizers expect an equally large group for this year’s pilgrimage. The annual tour is open to AHA and BCHGS members.

&uot;Since publicity for this pilgrimage began, we have gotten several new members for our local society – many people wanted a chance to participate and see these lovely homes, some of which have never been featured on a tour before,&uot; says Middleton.

‘No major damage from Ivan’

While it is possible St. Thomas Episcopal Church will have to be removed from Saturday’s pilgrimage due to hurricane damage, all six of the historic homes, along with the First Baptist Church and the Ritz Theatre, are still on the tour schedule.

Anne Feathers, who, along with husband John, is local co-chair of the event, says some of the homeowners have been &uot;extremely busy&uot; of late, cleaning up and removing fallen trees, limbs and other debris left by the storm.

&uot;However, we are happy to report there was no major damage to any of the featured homes from Ivan. Thankfully, we had this cushion of time in between the storm and Pilgrimage weekend to get cleaned up and back on our feet,&uot; Feathers, whose home is also included on the tour, recently said.

A historic day

The day will kick off downtown with registration at 9 a.m. at the restored Art Deco gem, the Ritz Theatre. There will be information and displays on

Greenville Main Street, the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and other groups available that morning. An informative program will follow at 10:15 a.m. in the Ritz.

A buffet luncheon is slated for midday at the First Baptist Church’s Family Life Center, with the tour of homes open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. that afternoon.

Middleton, a well-known camellia enthusiast, says she will also have a revised copy of her &uot;Camellia Trail Driving Brochure&uot; available for visitors to the Camellia City.

An art show at the Whitney Bank, sponsored by the Greenville Area Fine Arts League, is also slated for Pilgrimage weekend.

Middleton says the BCHGS Research Room will also be open all day Friday for visitors who wish to browse their extensive collection.

&uot;We hope to offer our visitors a sampling of all the good things we have to offer, past and present, in our hometown,&uot; Middleton comments, adding, &uot;I know Greenvillians and Butler Countians will make our guests feel very welcome, as always.&uot;