Governor unveils plans for park

Published 12:06 am Saturday, March 4, 2017

Built for bicentennial, planned park will tell state’s story

Gov. Robert Bentley announced Friday that a Bicentennial Capitol Park will be constructed as part of the state’s three-year bicentennial commemoration.

The area facing the Capitol, between the Attorney General’s and the Lurleen Wallace office buildings, will become the park and will feature bas-relief sculptures telling the history of Alabama.

“As we approach Alabama’s 200th birthday it is time to look back over our state’s rich history and see how each event has molded our future. This Bicentennial Capitol Park will serve as a unique history book commemorating our state’s history,” Gov. Bentley said. “The celebrations planned over the next three years will educate, celebrate and honor those who have fought so hard to improve the legacy of our great state.”

The park will create a walking space to welcome visitors to the Capitol and provide an educational Alabama History Walk.

It was also announced that the state’s official bicentennial celebration will be launched May 5 in Mobile.

The launch ceremony at 5:30 p.m. in Cooper Riverside Park will be followed by a downtown celebration that includes open admission to many of the city’s historic sites. The events, which are all open to the public, will conclude with fireworks.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said there were two reasons Mobile is a perfect city to begin the celebration of Alabama’s history.

“Mobile is Alabama’s oldest city. It was founded in 1702 so we have more than 100 years on the rest of the state,” Stimpson said. “We’ve got the history, but we also have an amazing here-and-now. You all will know that Mardi Gras took over Mobile this week. That’s just one reason we’re called Mobile: The City Born to Celebrate!”

Some of the other programs and initiatives include:

  • “Making Alabama: A Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit”

Beginning in 2018, this exhibit, based on the Museum of Alabama at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, will travel to all 67 counties in partnership with the Alabama Humanities Foundation.

  • Bicentennial PastPort Project

A print and digital “passport to the past” will showcase destinations throughout the state that can be visited by school children, families or history buffs to see and learn about Alabama history. Sites include museums, historic houses, and state parks.

  • The Federal Civil Rights Trail

Alabama’s history has created some of the world’s most important civil rights sites in the state.   Alabama Tourism will expand the Alabama Civil Rights Trail into the U.S. Civil Rights Trail to cross promote our major landmarks with others in Atlanta, Memphis, Washington, Little Rock, Jackson and other cities.

  • Alabama Legacy Moments

Thirty-to-90 second video segments on Alabama history, people, and places will be run in partnership with Alabama Public Television.

  • Constitution Hall Village

Huntsville’s Constitutional Hall Village, built on the spot where the 1819 constitutional convention made Alabama became a state, will receive a restoration.

  • Birmingham initiatives

The city of Birmingham is in discussion with the Bicentennial Committee concerning several proposals to celebrate the bicentennial.

  • Fort Toulouse

The historic Fort Toulouse, a renowned Native American and French colonial site will also receive renovation, restoration and increased programming.

  • Alabama Art Exhibition Series and Coffee Table Book

There will be exhibits at each of Alabama’s major art and history museums featuring Alabama artists and collections and a coffee-table book created from these exhibitions, conducted in partnership with the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

  • Alabama Bicentennial Schools

A three-pronged effort will target improved teaching, increased educational resources, and support for school-based bicentennial projects, conducted in partnership with the Alabama State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.   It includes professional development for teachers statewide, curriculum made available for civics, social studies, geography, and history through the Alabama Learning Exchange and bicentennial school resources and projects, including Bicentennial in a Box kits.