It was a beautiful day to be out and active Saturday, June 4 and that is exactly what a group of Atmore residents with a love for the history of their town did when they joined in on the first of the 2011 June walking tours at Heritage Park. The tours, which happen state-wide during the month of June, are a project of the Alabama Tourism Department and coordinated with the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce, encompass 26 different towns and are only done in this state.
Saturday’s kick-off tour began at Heritage Park and ended at the Atmore YMCA building and featured historical Atmore buildings including the Watson Cabin, the Peavy-Webb Building, the Atmore Boy Scout Hut and the Atmore YMCA building. Guided by Nancy Helton, the tour provided a chance for those in attendance to walk through the different buildings while listening to a presentation of each structure’s history.
In the Watson Cabin, Mrs. Helton explained how it had been originally constructed circa 1840 in Wilcox County, Alabama and served as a one-room, dirt floor home for years for the ancestors of the late Rupert Watson. Mrs. Helton said, in 1989, Billy and Wynelle Watson had the home moved to Escambia County to a spot near Jack Springs Road. In 1999 the cabin was given to Leadership Atmore. It was then moved and reassembled in Heritage Park, which was formed at the time specifically to house the cabin and the Peavy-Webb Building, the tour’s next stop.
Mrs. Helton explained the Peavy-Webb Building, built circa 1897, originally served as the office for Dr. Julian Franklin Peavy and was one of Atmore’s first doctor’s offices. In the 1890s the Peavys moved from town and sold their home, Dr. Peavy’s practice and the office building to Dr. Alfred Pellar Webb. Mrs. Helton said the Peavy-Webb Building is the second oldest structure in Heritage Park, next to the Watson Cabin, and one of the oldest buildings in Atmore.
The next stop for Saturday’s tour was the Atmore Boy Scout Hut, also located in Heritage Park. The hut, built around 1939, has been located on the property that is now Heritage Park for the longest of all of the structures. Although eventually used for Boy Scout meetings Mrs. Helton said the building was originally built as a boy’s club. The building has since been used for many different purposes and has recently been renovated through the Leadership Atmore program and the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce.
The last stop of the day for Saturday’s tour was the Atmore YMCA building, formerly Escambia County High School. After serving as the town’s high school for years, the building now houses, not only the Atmore YMCA, but also the office of the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce.
For those who missed Saturday’s informative tour, the chance to get in on the experience has not passed. Walking tours will continue every Saturday in the month of June. Saturday, June 11 the tour will feature area churches. Saturday, June 18 it will feature a tour of area homes and Saturday, June 25 will close out the month-long event with a tour of downtown Atmore.
All tours begin at 10 a.m. and will run around an hour, but the fun is not over once the tour is finished. During the last two Saturday’s in June the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce will be presenting the first “Market in the Park” event in the courtyard in front of First National Bank and Trust. “Market in the Park” will feature locally grown produce and other homemade items such as syrup and honey. The events will be held in conjunction with the walking tours on Saturday, June 18 and 25 and will run from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.
Pictured at top, Shane Hadley, left, listens as Nancy Helton guides the day’s tour.
Nancy Helton, left, explains the history of the Watson Cabin to, from left, Linda Bumann and Susan Weber.
Watson Cabin, circa 1840, is the oldest structure in Heritage Park.
The Peavy-Webb Building, circa 1897, is one of Atmore’s oldest doctor’s offices.
The Boy Scout Hut, circa 1939, has been located at what is now Heritage Park the longest of all the buildings.