Explore Historic Morris Avenue

Excerpted from EXCURSIONS

Morris Avenue History

Morris Avenue, known for its original cobblestone pavers, is a narrow, east-west avenue between 1st Avenue North and the Railroad Reservation. Because of its adjacency to railroad depots and services, it rapidly developed into an early commercial and warehouse district in Birmingham’s early days. The avenue is named for Josiah Morris, a banker and one of the initial shareholders in the Elyton Land Company.

By the late 1880s, Morris Avenue was lined with three and four-story brick warehouses from 21st to 25th Streets. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad claimed ownership of the section of Morris Avenue between 14th and 18th Streets, which had been used as a produce market and later for automobile parking.

Today, new businesses are taking up residence in the area to serve the booming loft-dwelling population. Alabama Peanut Company and Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar are our recommendations while you’re visiting the Magic City.

The century-old buildings and original cobblestone streets are popular backdrops for local photographers and movie companies from around the world.

Alabama Peanut Co.

One of America’s last surviving peanut merchants, Alabama Peanut Co. roasts and boils peanuts in the heart of Alabama’s Magic City. Utilizing antique roasters that are original to the peanut business that has occupied
the space on historic Morris Avenue since 1907, they barrel roast fresh peanuts daily and ship them out within hours of their perfect roast.

Their roots are in the uniquely Southern art of boiling peanuts. They currently offer over fifteen flavors of boiled peanuts that are served up fresh daily. Shop their collection of Alabama Peanut Co. branded apparel that is available online and in the shop. All t-shirts are screen-printed in downtown Birmingham.

Follow them @alabamapeanut to find out where they might be popping up around town and to discover their boiled peanut flavors of the day.

Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar

Near the end of the 19th century, Founder’s Station originally hosted
a printing press company. In honor of the building’s history, Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar chose its name after the typographical character used to indicate a new paragraph or section of text.

Established in late 2018, Pilcrow Cocktail Cellar specializes in premium craft cocktails and has rapidly become one of Birmingham’s most favored and most unique watering holes and casual gathering spots. Find out more in their online profile at excursionsgo.com.

Other notable stops along Morris Avenue

A brand new hotel, The Kelly, along with restaurants and shops including Carrigan’s Pub, famed wedding-maker Heidi Elnora Atelier, The Essential and Pizza Grace all invite you to explore this historic, yet modernized part of downtown Birmingham. Tell ’em EXCURSIONS sent you!

Destination: Stovehouse

Excerpted from EXCURSIONS

Waiting just off I-565 at 3414 Governors Drive, Stovehouse is 13 acres of eats, drinks, shopping, event space & live entertainment.

The building was originally constructed in 1929 and housed Martin Stove Company. See signs of pride, progress and preservation around every corner of this “little village.”

A couple thousand folks a day come to enjoy the ideallic backyard-party-vibe, dozens of restaurants, bars, shopping & nightly entertainment on stage!

Plenty of outdoor games & family-friendly entertainment in the “Food Garden” & Courtyard areas.

It’s not all outdoors. Enjoy meals & drinks from eclectic restaurants inside The Booth, The Canteen & The Shed.

Charming murals and clever signage provides Insta-ready backdrops. More importantly, they remind us what’s important in life! Look for several quirky signs as you approach 3414 Governors Drive, Huntsville, AL 35805. There’s ample parking at east & west entrances.

POURHOUSE

Pourhouse is a comfortably swanky bar that sits at the heart of the food garden at Stovehouse, a mixed-use development. The unique round bar is the first of its kind in Huntsville, serving cocktails, wine, and beer with a large screen, showing movies and sports daily. The first roof top bar in Huntsville also offers a wrap-around patio with fans and heaters, making this outdoor seating area comfortable year-round.

CHARLIE FOSTER’S

Charlie Foster’s is a local family-owned coffee shop dedicated to employing people with special needs and serving our community high quality specialty coffee. They have a unique aesthetic and charging ports at every seat. They offer espresso drinks, a variety of sandwiches for both breakfast and lunch, and a variety of teas and cold brews. Dine inside or enjoy their patio. Charlie Foster’s invites you to come on by and hang out for a while.

CO-OP BREWPUB

The Co-Op Brewpub is part of the Brewers Cooperative consisting of Good People Brewing Company, Avondale Brewing Company, Straight To Ale Brewing and Druid City Brewing Company. The 10,000-square-foot facility makes beer, spirits, and wine for onsite consumption. In addition to brewpub fashioned suds, the location offers its four collaborators’ beers. The kitchen serves up made-from-scratch “American comfort food.”

FRESKO GRILLE

Where family tradition meets modern Mediterranean cuisine. Fresko Grille offers a variety of Mediterranean favorites, rich with a variety of spices and ingredients that make each dish pop with flavor. From baba ghanoush to shawarma and falafel to kafta kebobs, their rotating weekly specials and customizable menus are offered in a fast-casual setting. Enjoy a classic Mediterranean dish or build your own to your liking by selecting your desired protein, fresh vegetables, sides, and sauces. Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are readily available.

BARK & BARREL BBQ

Bold Alabama Barbecue with a foodie twist. Bark & Barrel serves up house-smoked wings, turkey, BBQ, homemade chips, great sides, and yes, even smoked chocolate chip cookies. Did we mention they have specials like their coveted Brisket French Dip?! Follow on Facebook for daily specials. Or, just show up because whatever you order will be perfection!

OSCAR MOON’S MILKSHAKE BAR & ICE CREAM SHOPPE

Oscar Moon’s is the country’s most soulful shake shop! Featuring milkshakes, floats and ice cream, the experience is a nod to 50s soda-counter-culture. But with Motown music pumping, disco balls spinning & spontaneous sing-alongs happening, it’s becoming a timeless tradition. ❖

Motorcycle Heaven

LOCAL BUSINESSMAN’S LIFELONG PASSION TURNED WORLD-CLASS COLLECTION AND TOP LOCAL ATTRACTION

by Kelly Stewart

Motorcycle Heaven exists, and you’ll find it in Birmingham, Alabama. Upon entering the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, you’ll understand why motorcycles and cars are considered art. The stunning five-story Barber Museum is home to the largest collection of motorcycles in the world according to Guinness World Records. With more than 1,600 motorcycles, 59 vintage Lotus cars, eclectic art, and a 2.38-mile racetrack, the Barber Museum is truly a motorsports paradise.

Located at the 880-acre Barber Motorsports Park, the 228,650-square-foot Barber Museum has motorcycle and car exhibits on each of its five floors. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the building, which is anchored by an active restoration area that is visible to guests from each level.

The museum’s motorcycle collection spans more than a century’s worth of production, offering interesting views into the evolution of engineering. You’ll see examples of some of the oldest motorcycles in the world, such as a model of an 1867 Roper Steam Velocipede, as well as the museum’s oldest running motorcycle, the 1902 Steffey.

There are Harley-Davidsons, Hondas and Indians on exhibit alongside less familiar makes, like Cannondale, Jawa and Laverda. The museum has rare motorcycles like the 1996 Britten V1000, which is one of only 10 ever built. There is an exhibit of motorcycles built by Eric Buell, a collection of scooters and a dirt bike exhibit that will make you feel moved. With such a diverse collection, you may see an example of the very first motorcycle you ever rode.

The Barber Museum has an important history. The dream that ultimately became today’s Barber Museum began back in 1988 in an old warehouse on the Southside of Birmingham. There, Birmingham native and former Porsche racer George Barber began collecting motorcycles, starting off with a trio of Honda V-Fours, followed by a rare 1952 Victoria Bergmeister. As Barber’s interest and passion for motorcycles continued to grow, so did his outstanding collection. In 1995, after establishing the Barber Museum as a 501(c)3 notfor-profit organization, Barber donated his burgeoning motorcycle collection to the museum and then opened it to the public. In 2003, when the collection exceeded the square footage of its original Southside home, the museum moved to its current location at Barber Motorsports Park.

Even before the museum opened the doors of its current location, world-renowned track designer Alan Wilson had been brought on to create a world-class, 17-turn road course behind it. Having such a road course accessible is important to the Barber Museum as it allows restoration staff to demonstrate, test and exercise vehicles in the collection. The road course also offers the opportunity for major races, such as the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, to take place in Birmingham.

When you compare it to other motorsports venues, Barber Motorsports Park is extraordinary. Considering that it is indeed a comprehensive and highly technical motorsports facility, many visitors to the museum and park are surprised by its vastness and natural beauty. Accordingly, Barber Motorsports Park is a special destination for garden clubs who take scheduled tours aboard open-air trams throughout the year.

During race events at the park, ticket holders can choose where they’d most like to spectate. Rather than have permanent grandstands, Barber Motorsports Park was designed to provide people with the very best views from grassy hillsides, shaded areas and lightly-treed spaces. Other notable features of the park include gorgeous lakes, beautiful art and sculptures, pedestrian bridges and a spectacular 20-foot waterfall. Of the 880 acres of land that make up Barber Motorsports Park, about 400 acres are untouched forest. This creates a dramatic landscape and a natural sound buffer.

While the Barber Museum is open most days of the year, the racetrack and other various areas of Barber Motorsports Park are open to spectators only during certain scheduled events. However, because the track is used regularly, there are ample opportunities to see a variety of different motorsports activities taking place from inside the museum.

In addition to the Barber Museum using the road course to demonstrate, test and exercise vehicles in its collection, it is also home to the Porsche Track Experience, which offers introductory level and advanced driving courses. Zoom Motorsports manages many weekend events that take place in the park, on the track and at the Barber Proving Grounds. Barber Motorsports Park features major events annually, including the renown Barber Vintage Festival, which brings thousands from around the world to the Magic City of Birmingham.

Adventures Await in Morgan County

From golf courses to museums and historical sites, Decatur/Morgan County has the perfect agenda for every traveler.

Alabama’s Largest Victorian-Era Historic Districts

The Old Decatur and Albany Historic Districts of Decatur make up the largest concentration of Victorian-era craftsmen and bungalow homes in Alabama. Often referred to as “The Painted Ladies,” some date to the early 1800s, while others were constructed around the turn of the century. Both are listed in the National Register of Historical Places. A detailed tour map and brochure are available at the Decatur Visitor Center on 6th Ave.

The Old Decatur Historic District embraces over 116-acres with houses ranging in age from 1829 to the present. Styles vary from the French-influenced Empire period to the Edwardian Cottage and beyond.

The New Decatur

Albany Historic District was founded by northern businessmen in the late 1800’s and was named after the New York state capital. Styles reflect early 20th century trends such as Colonial Revival, California Cottage, Dutch Colonial, and Frank Lloyd Wright influences.

Carnegie Visual Arts Center

Carnegie Visual Arts Center is a not-for-profit organization, the center is a cultural, educational and community service organization providing an environment to promote learning, creation and appreciation of the visual arts. It also preserves one of the area’s historical buildings and serves as a multi-purpose community resource. Check website for latest events. {207 Church Street NE, Decatur, 256.341.0562, carnegiearts.org}

Cook Museum of Natural Science

The Cook Museum of Natural Science is in downtown Decatur. The new 60,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility will serve the people of North Alabama and the Southeast as an educational destination as well as a premier tourism attraction. The museum will be an interactive immersion into North American biomes, from deserts to oceans, to arctic tundra and hardwood forests. Each exhibit will be a part of a narrative explaining how the natural world works. Key features of the new museum will include: educational programs, live animals and aquariums, mounted wildlife from across North America, collections of rocks minerals, fossils, shells and coral, native plant landscaping, café with outdoor patio, three classrooms, theater and museum store. You will experience nature close-up through interactive exhibits, including live animals, an immersive cave experience, a 15,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, and much more. For more information please visit their website, cookmuseum.org.

Hartselle’s Historic Depot and Downtown

Sixty-nine of the buildings in the central business district of Hartselle, including the Hartselle Depot, have been nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places because of their architectural and historic significance. The Depot, built in 1914, includes historical displays provided by the Hartselle Historical Society. The popular downtown shops offer such items as imported Mexican pewter, artwork by local artists and crafters, linens, soaps, and all kinds of antiques, from glassware to large furniture items. {110 Railroad St. SW, Hartselle; 800.294.0692, 256.773.4370; hartsellechamber.com}

Morgan County Archives

Located in the 1927 Tennessee Valley Bank Building in the Bank Street Historical District of Decatur. Holdings total approximately 1,500 cubic feet of archival and manuscript materials including the original estate and guardianship case files, birth and death ledgers, marriage records (1819-1930), tax records dating from the 1920s, county commission records, circuit court records and newspapers. Genealogical materials include census, family histories and bible records. The Morgan County Archives features two new state-of-the-art permanent exhibits on the Scottsboro Boys Trial in Decatur and the Civil War in Morgan County. {624 Bank St. NE, 256.351.4726}

Old State Bank

The Old State Bank was one of three banks authorized by The Alabama General Assembly in 1832. Few structures can boast as varied a past as the Bank. Since its construction, the building has weathered two depressions and a Civil War and has served as a hospital, guardhouse, bank and dance hall. Named to the National Register of Historical Places in 1972, the Classic Revival architecture of the Bank is symbolic of the period in which it was built. The building is decorated with antique pieces from the Federal and Empire period. It is the first stop on the Civil War Walking Tour of Decatur. Founders Park and Daikin Amphitheatre are also located on the Old Bank property. {925 Bank Street NE, 256.341.4818}

Point Mallard Park

Point Mallard Park is designed to provide family recreation opportunities throughout the year. A 35-acre water theme area (open daily summer months) offers America’s first Wave Pool, the Duck Pond and Squirt Factory kid’s pools, Lazy River Ride, two new drop slides and more! The Park also features a scenic 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course; a 25-acre wooded campground; the Strike Zone driving range and batting cages; lighted tennis courts; ball fields; a recreation center; amphitheater; and an indoor Ice Skating complex (open year-round). Call for seasonal facility hours. {256.341.4900. pointmallardpark.com}

Princess Theatre Center for Performing Arts

The historic Princess Theatre anchors the downtown Arts and Entertainment District. The location is an attraction all by itself, with its unique art deco style from the 1940s, a terrazzo floor map of the state in the lobby, landmark two-story marquee on the front and blacklight-reactive murals that decorate the auditorium. But the theatre is also home to many local productions and traveling shows that use the 677-seat facility to reach Decatur residents, the North Alabama region and beyond. The Princess Theatre is a boon to the economy, drawing tourists from across the U.S.

The building was constructed in 1887 as a livery stable for horses, but in 1919, the building was converted into a silent film theatre and vaudeville playhouse. Then, in 1941, the theatre underwent another transformation. This time the Princess gained the art deco style that most visitors now associate with the Princess.

In 1978, the movie house closed and the city of Decatur was able to purchase and renovate the old building, preserving and revitalizing the 1940s-style decor.

Due to the pandemic, Centennial celebrations took place 101 years after the Princess’s birthday. Now, new concerts, comedy, dance, live theatre and more are being added to the Princess Theatre’s calendar on a weekly basis.

The Theatre hosted the inaugural Marquee Awards, a Grammy-inspired event that marks the culmination of the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser with a showcase of the types of entertainment that grace the Princess Theatre’s stage year-round.

One of the ongoing attractions at the theatre is the singer/songwriter series hosted in the theatre’s listening loft. As the series has grown, this elevated experience has gained momentum. Top-tier artists from all over the country request a slot in the lineup. The monthly songwriter schedule is listed on the Theatre’s website, along with movies, concerts, live performances, seasonal shows and more.

One of the newest and most exciting additions to the website is a virtual tour of the Princess Theatre. This “bird’s eye” view of the historic, nonprofit venue and a full calendar of upcoming events can be found at www.princesstheatre.org.

Historic Decatur Union Depot Museum

The restored Historic Decatur Union Depot Museum links the historic downtown to the city’s oldest neighborhood and to the city’s historic center of its African-American cultural heritage. Today, the museum portion occupies the foyer and west passenger waiting room (for artifact display), a second portion of the same waiting room (theater) and the ticket office (model train display). The entire loading area has been restored and is open to the public for amazing train watching with the nearest main track only 12 feet from the loading dock. {701 Railroad St, Decatur}

The Region’s Premier Destination for Art Education

Founded in 2012, the Alabama Center for the Arts is a partnership between Athens State University and Calhoun Community College, with collaboration from the City of Decatur and Morgan County. The campus, located in beautiful downtown Decatur, consists of two state-of-the-art buildings, where students can take several types of courses in art, theatre, graphic design, and music. College courses taught here can lead to Associate of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees.

At 44,000 square feet, the Performing Arts Center features a 150-seat recital hall with a digital projector for films and lectures, a 300-seat black box theatre, a recording studio with two booths for sound engineering, sound-proof rehearsal rooms, a space for set construction, a music lab, computer lab, dressing rooms and smart classrooms. alabamacenterforthearts.org

Trails and Tours

The Alabama Scenic River Trail is the longest and most experience-rich river trail in America—from mountain streams to multi-class whitewater to river delta and the salty waves of the Gulf of Mexico. Paddling and powerboat experiences and exploration abound along over 5,300 miles of accessible waterways with over 50 adventure services to serve and assist you. We have organized a network of volunteer Trail Angels who can help you plan and conduct your journey. We have amenities and campsites to support everything from long-distance touring to organized paddles to races, overnight trips or any kind of day trip you might imagine. alabamascenicrivertrail.com

Point Mallard Indian Interpretive Trail

The Point Mallard Indian Interpretive Trail is a 5.5-mile natural walking trail through the wooded areas of Point Mallard Park. Divided into four trails, all connected throughout the park, we honor local Cherokee chiefs, Doublehead and Black Fox; Creek Chief, Bigfoot; and Chickasaw Chief, George Colbert. The walking trail will celebrate Indian culture in Morgan County and the Tennessee River area, as well as provide a beautiful walking experience for all to enjoy. The trail also includes a children’s amphitheater for educational experiences and performers.

Battle for Decatur Civil War Walking Tour

The Civil War Walking Tour is located in the Old Decatur and New Albany Historic Districts, just off the southern bank of the Tennessee River near downtown Decatur. Covering 13 blocks, the self-guided walking tour chronicles events surrounding Confederate General John Bell Hood’s attempt to advance across the Tennessee River, a four-day battle that took place in October of 1864.

North Alabama Birding Trail

Decatur-Morgan County is part of the central loop of the North Alabama Birding Trail, which features over 50 designated stations that allow visitors to observe the birds in their native habitats. There are eighteen stations located along the central loop, including eight within the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge in Morgan County. The Refuge embraces both banks of the Tennessee River and is home to more than 300 species of birds.

Amen Trail

The Amen Trail is located in Decatur and throughout Morgan County. Many of the churches are at least 100 years old, on its original site and still hold services today. This self-guided tour recognizes churches that define the heart of Decatur and Morgan County’s rich and diverse cultural and spiritual heritage. Two of the 19 churches listed on the Amen Trail are also a part of North Alabama’s Hallelujah Trail, which was published in The National Geographic’s Driving Tours of Appalachia.

Downtown Turtle Trail

Take the Downtown Turtle Trail and find 10 bronze turtles located along Decatur’s historic 2nd Avenue. Learn about the significant places and events that helped make Downtown Decatur what it is today along the way! decaturdowntown.org/turtle-trail

MoCo Mural Trail

Take a free mural tour of Morgan County Alabama! Unique and vibrant murals are popping up all throughout MoCo! You can mix and match any of the locations on the MoCo Mural Trail to best fit your location and itinerary! Did we mention it’s FREE?

Flint Creek Canoe Trail

The Flint Creek Canoe Trail opened in 2018, providing access to the interior of the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and the many birding and recreational opportunities that surround it. Additionally, the nearby Sipsey River in Bankhead National Forest is a popular spot for canoeing. The river, designated a “Wild and Scenic River,” is best in Spring and late Winter. This is part of the Alabama Scenic River Trail.

Appalachian Recreation

Morgan County is the focal point of all outdoor recreation on the 67,100-acre Wheeler Reservoir (Wheeler Lake) on the Tennessee River. It’s the largest lake in the region, stretching approximately 60 miles. Wheeler Lake is basically a wide river until it flows through the City of Decatur, after which it widens considerably and takes on more of the appearance and characteristics of an impoundment. Decatur has played host to many national fishing events, including the Bassmaster Top 150 Tournament, Bassmaster Invitational, Walmart FLW and the Crappie USA National Championship. Wheeler presents a mixture of deep drop-offs and shallow banks; narrow tributaries and wide-open spaces. There is flooded timber, grass beds and seemingly bottomless depths; quiet coves, brushy sloughs and wave-washed cliffs. Wheeler represents the southernmost point for the natural habitat of smallmouth bass, making the area home to many lunkers. Largemouth bass, spotted bass, crappie, stripe and catfish are all popular game fish. Wheeler Lake is on the Alabama Bass Trail and is considered one of the country’s best fisheries for catfish.

Wheeler Wildlife Refuge

Established in 1938 as an experimental home for waterfowl, the Refuge encompasses 34,500-acres of preserved woodlands. The Givens Wildlife Interpretive Center serves as the welcome center for the Refuge and is also one of the South’s largest educational centers for waterfowl and wildlife study. The center features a large glass-enclosed observatory and is open to self-guided tours with displays, pamphlets and wildlife films. The Givens Center is open free to the public daily {Highway 67, 256.350.6639. fws.gov/wheeler}

Marinas

Ingalls Harbor

The marina is also one of the sites on the Alabama Bass Trail. Includes fishing boat launch, parking and green space suitable for family gatherings and festivals. Future additions include a riverboat docking area, visitors center and Tennessee River Heritage Museum. {701 Market Street, NW. Mile Marker #303.5} decaturparks.com

Riverwalk Marina

Includes private slips and boathouses, public launching ramps, vending area, Hard Dock restaurant, boat sales and dockside gas/oil. {Located on the north bank of the Tennessee River on Hwy. 31. Mile Marker #305} decatursports.com

Brickyard Landing

Includes 240 dry docks, boat repair, waterfront marina store, dockside gas/oil. No public launch ramp. {Located on the south bank of the Tennessee River on Hwy. 20. Mile Marker #303.5} brickyardlandingmarina.net

Jay Landings Marina & RV Park

Includes wet-slips, vending, RV sites and public launching for a fee. {Located on the south bank of the Tennessee River on Hwy. 20. Mile Marker #302.5} jaylandingsmarina.com

Golf Courses

Point Mallard Park – Decatur

Redesigned by South Carolina golf course architect John LaFoy, the course features 18 manicured Tiftdwarf Bermuda greens designed to United States Golf Association specifications Tee time reservations may be made up to three days in advance and group or company outings are welcome. Recognized as “The Best Public Course to Play” by the Tennessee Valley Golf News and as one of the best three public courses to play in the state by members of the Dixie Section of the Professional Golfers Association of America. Point Mallard golf course facilities include a modern clubhouse with a pro shop, restaurant and shower and restroom areas. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. 15 percent discount for Senior Citizens. Tee times: 256.341.4921, Pro Shop: 256.341.4925

Quail Creek – Hartselle

An 18-hole, par 71 course laid out on 6,007 yards on Nat Key Road. Open year-round. qcresort.com

See Decatur Morgan County Tourism or ExcursionsGo.com for more.