History comes alive at Village

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In my college days, the drive back to the University of Montevallo meant passing miles of pastures and farmland.

There was one pasture that was particularly beautiful.

Its green hills were bordered by a long, white fence. Sitting in the middle was a red barn that resembled every picturesque postcard you’ve ever seen.

I passed that pasture during my years at school and then later during my time at the Shelby County Reporter.

It was always beautiful, if only in its simplicity. Then, one day, I noticed construction on the land.

A large sign was posted in the front of the property proclaiming the pasture as the &uot;Future Home of the American Village.&uot;

I was disappointed they were building on the site. That disappointment melted away soon, however, as I saw the amazing facility under construction.

The American Village is a unique place.

Chartered in 1995, the village is like a walk in old Williamsburg, Va.

The historically inspired buildings include Washington Hall, home to the Assembly Room and the Mt. Vernon Room, modeled after George Washington’s home.

Colonial-style houses are scattered throughout the property, and future plans call for construction of a post office, print shop and candle shop.

There’s Constitution Green and Colonial Gardens, a Colonial church and courthouse and a presidential classroom modeled on the Oval Office.

There’s also a statue of Washington by Houdon and costumed historical interpreters on hand to explain the intricacies of the period to visitors.

The American Village is literally history coming to life.

And it’s still growing. A President’s House, patterned on the United States’ first presidential home, is under construction, as is an expanded Visitor’s Center.

More than 250,000 visitors, many schoolchildren from across the state, visit the American Village each year.

It’s annual Fourth of July celebration attracts more than 10,000 annually.

What makes this story all the more amazing is that it began as the idea of one man, Tom Walker of Montevallo.

Walker, a student of history and government, first introduced the idea of a center for good citizenship in 1993. He worked with local and state officials to see the dream completed.

Now, land next to the American Village is being considered for a National Cemetery, similar to the one at Arlington.

It’s amazing to see the progress the American Village has undergone in recent years. And while it was sad to see the beautiful pasture gone, it’s good to know it’s being used for such a wonderful purpose.

Leada Gore serves as publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer and the Madison County Record. She is the former managing editor of the Shelby County Reporter