Scottsboro Preserves Its Historic Past

Scottsboro, Alabama, incorporated in 1870, is a city rich in history. Its past has been well preserved in its historic districts and structures that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The downtown historic district contains the courthouse square. Its tree-lined streets are lined with historic homes. Most of the properties are privately owned, but a walk or drive around town affords visitors the opportunity to view a number of these historic structures.

The Public Square Historic District contains Scottsboro’s quaint courthouse square. The Jackson County Courthouse, constructed in 1911-12, is the attractive centerpiece. The brick structure was designed in the Neo-Classical style, with four Doric columns supporting its front portico. The building is topped with a cupola containing a clock. The courthouse was the site of the 1931 trial of the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black defendants accused of raping a white woman. Some people consider this trial to be the beginning of the civil rights movement in America. More than two dozen of the buildings surrounding the square have been designated as historic structures. Most are one or 2-story brick commercial structures from the early 20th century.

The Scottsboro Railroad Depot, at North Houston Street and Maple Avenue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The brick building was constructed in 1860-61 as a passenger and freight depot for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. On January 8, 1865 it became the focus of an intense Civil War battle between Union forces that held the depot and Confederate troops under the command of Brig. Gen. H.B. Lyon. Confederate artillery eventually drove the Union soldiers from the building. This depot is one of only three remaining pre-Civil War depots in Alabama.

The Brown-Proctor House on South Houston Street is another property listed on the National Register. The Greek-Revival style mansion, built in 1880, currently houses the Jackson Heritage Center. Visitors may tour the home as well as Sagetown, the center’s pioneer village. A number of authentic buildings have been moved to the location for preservation, including cabins, a school, and Jackson County’s first courthouse, built in 1868.

The College Hill Historic District includes ten structures on College Avenue between Scott and Kyle Streets. This area was Scottsboro’s first subdivision. Homes in the district date from 1909 to the 1940s. The building styles include Bungalow, Craftsman, and Classical-Revival.

The preservation efforts in the historic districts show Scottsboro’s commitment to honoring its history. This picturesque town in northeast Alabama is well worth a visit.