Happy Birthday, American Village

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Special to the Reporter

The American Village celebrated its 5th birthday yesterday with the announcement of a partnership with Southern Progress, publisher of Southern Living magazine.

The firing of a colonial cannon, a five-layer birthday cake and shouts of &uot;Huzzah!&uot; were all part of the celebration held on the Village Green in front of Washington Hall.

The celebration was capped off with an announcement by Congressman Spencer Bachus of a positive decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to locate a national cemetery on the Village grounds. The birthday party was followed by a service of Thanksgiving in the Colonial Chapel.

The Village, Southern Living and several other donors will work to re-create the President’s House, inspired by the country’s first presidential residence in Philadelphia, Penn. (used from 1790 to 1800).

Southern Living has built only two other &uot;showcase houses&uot; in its entire history, both in South Carolina – one at Clemson University and the other Brookgreen Gardens. The one announced Tuesday will be the third.

Both of the existing &uot;showcase homes&uot; were built to highlight historical themes and to educate visitors. The President’s House will be located behind the chapel on the grounds at The Village and promises to be the most imposing and historically significant showcase home built to date.

The &uot;showcase home&uot; is only the most recent in a long effort by many who have worked to create The American Village.

When the Village opened in 1999, the venture in citizenship education included Washington Hall, the President’s Classroom and Oval Office, a meeting house and the Colonial Courthouse.

Since that time, it has expanded to include a visitors center and gift shop, the Alabama Power Voting Experience, Village Hall which houses administrative offices, the Randall Pettus Miniature Museum of American History, Liberty Bell Garden and the Bill of Rights Walk, the Colonial Chapel and the renovated multi-functional barn.

About 45,000 children will learn about patriotism first hand on the grounds of The American Village this year and by the end of the academic year, the Village will have served almost 200,000 young people from 63 of 67 Alabama counties and seven other southeastern states.

Future plans for the Village include increasing program and facility capacity and use to accommodate 250,000 participants each year – 100,000 students and 150,000 visitors.

– For information on holiday events, see Page A-