Historical Destinations

National Park Units

The National Park Service currently has three ongoing initiatives in the Black Belt region.

Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, Dallas, Lowndes, Montgomery Counties

The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail preserves, commemorates, and interprets resources associated with the Voting Rights movement; in particular the marches in 1965 which directly influenced to the passage of the Voting Rights act. The Lowndes County Interpretive Center includes state of the art exhibits, artifacts, a bookstore, a picnic area, and an award winning film, Never Lose Sight of Freedom.

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Macon County

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is charged with preserving, commemorating and interpreting the impact of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, their training process for the Tuskegee Airmen, the African-American struggle for greater participation in the United States Armed Forces and the impact on the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site, Macon County

The purpose of Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site is to protect and preserve the cultural resources of “The Oaks,” the family home of Booker T. Washington, the George Washington Carver Museum and any other lands of interests. It was here that Booker T. Washington initiated the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute for African Americans in 1881. Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site is the only National Park unit located on an active college campus, Tuskegee University.

National Historic Landmarks

The Black Belt region is home to ten National Historic Landmarks that are recognized for their significance to American history.

Brown Chapel, A.M.E Church, Dallas County

Brown Chapel African Methodist Church played a major role in the events that led to the adoption of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Brown Chapel was the headquarters of the Selma Voting Rights Movement and the starting point of the three Selma to Montgomery Marches. Media coverage of the violence during the marches showed that equal access to the ballot was far from being realized. The nation’s reaction to Selma’s “Bloody Sunday March” is widely credited with making the passage of the Voting Rights Act politically viable to an otherwise cautious Congress.

Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery County

This small, eclectic-style church, built in 1878, served as the original headquarters of the Montgomery Improvement Association, headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which carried out a successful boycott, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, of segregated city buses in 1955.

First Confederate Capitol, Montgomery County

On February 4, 1861, delegates from six Southern States which had seceded from the Union met in Alabama’s State Capitol; on February 8, the 37 delegates adopted a “Constitution for the Provisional Government of the Confederate States of America.” A day later, Jefferson Davis of Mississippi was elected President of the Confederation; he was inaugurated on the West Portico on February 18, the Confederate flag flying for the first time over this building. The Confederate Congress met in Montgomery until May 22, 1861, when the capital was moved to Richmond, Virginia.

Gaineswood, Marengo County

Begun in 1842 and modified in stages over eighteen years (1843-1861), Gaineswood is one of America’s most unusual neoclassical Greek Revival-style mansions. Amateur architect and cotton planter Nathan Bryan Whitfield refined his mansion with the help of skilled African-American craftsmen as the stylistic preference in America shifted from Greek Revival to Italianate. Gaineswood’s sprawling, asymmetrical floor plan and lavish decorative detail brilliantly reflect that shift. Gaineswood is one of the few Greek Revival homes that has Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian columns.

Kenworthy Hall, Perry County

Kenworthy Hall (built 1858 – 1861) ranks among the most intact surviving examples of architect Richard Upjohn’s distinctive asymmetrical Italian Villa style. Internationally known for his church architecture, and represented by nine existing National Historic Landmarks, Upjohn became one of the most original practitioners of domestic design in antebellum America.

Montgomery (Snagboat), Pickens County

The steam-propelled sternwheel snagboat MONTGOMERY (1925) is one of a handful of surviving steam-powered sternwheelers in the country and is one of only two surviving Corps of Engineers snagboats. Snagboats cleared the western rivers of countless obstructions and allowed the spread of navigation to regions previously inaccessible. MONTGOMERY played a major part in the building of the Alabama-Tombigbee-Tennessee River Project, an alternative river system to the Mississippi, as well as serving to maintain the Apalachicola, Black Warrior, Chattahoochee, Coosa, and Flint Rivers.

Montgomery Union Station and Trainshed, Mongomery County

Constructed in 1898, this an excellent example of late 19th-century commercial architecture served as the focal point of transportation into the city until the advent of commercial air travel. Montgomery Union Station is most significant for its trainshed, which illustrates the adaptation of bridge-building techniques to shelter structures, an important step in the history of American engineering.

Moundville Site, Hale County

Settled first in the 10th century, Moundville is situated on a level area overlooking the Black Warrior River and consists of 34 mounds, the largest of which is over 58 feet high. The site represents a major period of Mississippian culture in the southern portion of its distribution and acted as the center for a southerly diffusion of this culture toward the Gulf Coast.

St. Andrew’s Church, Hale County

Constructed in 1853, this board-and-batten, Gothic Revival-style edifice exhibits the influence of 19th-century architectural leader Richard Upjohn. Large doors hung on strap iron hinges open into virtually unaltered interior with original pews, organ and stained glass. St. Andrew's is one of the Southeast's outstanding examples of the picturesque movement in American church building.

Tuskegee Institute, Macon County

Perhaps the best-known African-American university in the country, Tuskegee was founded in 1881 by Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), a man who had been born and reared a slave. With a curriculum designed to provide industrial and vocational education for African-Americans, Tuskegee became the core and symbol of its founder's efforts to ameliorate the economic conditions of the African-American and improve his way of life. Tuskegee is most noted for its contributions in the field of agricultural research; in 1896, Dr. George Washington Carver (1864-1943) became head of its Agriculture Department.

World Heritage List

The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church in Montgomery was nominated in January 2008 to the United States World Heritage Tentative List. It is one of three Alabama Civil Rights churches now eligible to be considered for nomination by the United States to the UNESCO World Heritage List, the most prestigious international recognition accorded to properties of global importance. The list recognizes the most significant cultural and national treasures in the world. The nomination of the Alabama sites is UNESCO’s first recognition of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

National Register of Historic Places

There are 304 sites in the Black Belt listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The properties listed on the National Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. There are 53 historic districts in the Black Belt listed on the National Register. These include river and agrarian towns that facilitated the rise of cotton and gave birth to demonstrations for equality among races. Click on the following link for a listing of the numerous historical museums and local historic sites: (Link to National Register sites)