Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Tenneessee River with the Marriott Muscle Shoals in the background

A view from across the Tennessee River of the Marriott hotel where we stayed.  That sphere on a pole is acutally a restaurant that revolves.  Did we go up there?  No.  We were tired and forgot.  Partied til the wee hours of the morning and barely made it out before check-out time.

Indian Mound in Florence, AL

We had to visit the Indian Mound. We didn't go into the museum but we did climb the steps to the top.  What a view!  This marker is erected at the top and we're wondering how someone donates an Indian Mound?  It must have been on the family property at some point... but how do you own a ceremonial mound? Oh, I guess you just take it...

From a website:
The Florence Indian Mound is the Tennessee Valley area's largest domiciliary mound.   It is typical workmanship of the Indians who lived in this area before the Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Creeks.  Early settlers found steps on one side of the mound, and discovered that it had been enclosed by an earthen wall. 

Alabama Music Hall of Fame

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame was a fun visit.  Again, it closed early like everything else around town but the employees were gracious and allowed us to quickly wander through.
This museum houses memorabilia from Alabama musicians to include singers, songwriters, producers, etc.  The museum is also very up-to-date with the inclusion of recent American Idol participants.

IE and IA really liked the tour bus that was used by the band Alabama.  It's so VINTAGE!  Here they are i
magining what it would be like to drive the big bus:

These are the sleeping quarters.  There was one extra on the passenger side of the bus.  Maybe there was a very small band member or maybe that bunk was used as punishment? 

This car was owned by Webb Pierce.   If you go to the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville you will see a similar vehicle.

Damn, that's a cool dam! Wilson Lock and Dam, Florence, AL

Wilson Dam spans the Tennessee River in Alabama, near Florence and Muscle Shoals, AL.

It impounds Wilson Lake and is one of nine Tennesse Valley Authority (TVA) dams on the Tennessee River and is a National Historic Landmark named after President Woodrow Wilson.
 Construction on Wilson Dam began in 1918 and was completed in 1924. It was  the first federal hydroelectric project and was used as a power supply center for  munitions plants in World War l. 

The dam is 137 feet high and stretches 4,541 feet across the Tennessee River.  The main lock at Wilson Dam is 110 feet wide by 600 feet long. The lock lift is 94 feet and is the highest single lift lock east of the Rocky Mountains. Over 3,700 vessels pass through Wilson Dam's locks each year.

It is also the only neoclassical-style dam in the TVA system, integrating themes of ancient Roman and Greek architecture into the modern structure.  It has style AND function.

Our favorite part of the visit to the dam was taking a nap on a picnic table at one of the nice parks adjacent to the river.  We really needed a nap and the weather was unseasonably warm and sunny.  In fact, just 7 short days earlier school was closed due to snow... We are glad we missed that event!

WC Handy birthplace, Florence, AL - The Father of the Blues

In November, 2009 IE spent some time in Mississippi visiting specific sites along the blues trail.  One stop was in Tutwiler, another significant town in the life of WC Handy and blues history.

In February 2011, while in Florence, AL, IE and IA discovered they were minutes from the birthplace of WC Handy and had to make the stop.  Admission:  $2.00.  With student ID: 50 cents.  What a deal!

Some information about WC Handy:

W.C. Handy was born in a small log cabin in Florence on November 16, 1873.  Handy became famous for his blues compositions such as "Memphis Blues" and "St. Louis Blues".  He was also a musician, band conductor, and author.

The museum houses a collection of memorabilia, musical instruments, personal papers and original sheet music.  Handy's famous trumpet and his personal piano are just a few of the items on display.

FAME Recording Studios - where it all began . . . IE and IA are disappointed. . . no tours, no visitors, no dogs allowed


FAME Music was established in 1959 in Florence, Alabama and has gone on to be the heartbeat of the Muscle Shoals Sound with entities including FAME Publishing, FAME Recording Studios, FAME Records and Muscle Shoals Records. FAME moved to Muscle Shoals in 1961. FAME has worked in the studio with some of the Greatest artists in Rock music history. Artists such as Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Otis Redding, the Osmonds, Jerry Reed, Alabama, Mac Davis, the Gatlin Brothers, Bobbie Gentry and many others. More recently FAME has recorded   projects for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Band of Horses, Drive by Truckers, Bettye Lavette, and Heartland to name a few.

In the last 50 years, FAME has been involved in recording or publishing records that have sold over 350 million copies world wide.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A visit to the ONLY Frank Lloyd Wright house in Alabama! The Rosenbaum home

What a sweet surprise to learn that we were staying in the same town as the only FLW house in Alabama!  Of course we had to take a drive over there and check it out. 
It is truly stunning and we are so happy that we had the opportunity to visit.  Everything in Florence seems to close at 4pm and naturally we arrived at 4:05.  We did look in the windows and snapped a few photos.  What a treasure.

Lifted from their site:
An American architectural treasure, this house was built for newlyweds Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum of Florence, Alabama, in 1939. The house is the only structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the state of Alabama, and the only such house in the southeast that is open to the public.
Wright’s Usonian style (named for the United State of America) was offered as a low-cost home for middle income families. With Wright’s plans, a young family could build their own home, fulfilling the American dream of home ownership. This house sits on a two-acre lot, very near downtown Florence and facing the Tennessee River.
The Usonian style house originally contained 1,540 square feet, but when the Rosenbaum household grew to include four sons, the family called upon Wright to design an addition. In 1948, 1,084 square feet was added, containing a larger work space (kitchen), a guest bedroom, storage space and a dormitory for the boys. This seamless addition clearly shows Wright’s concept of a Usonian house that could grow with the family as it grew. The Rosenbaums were the sole owners and occupants of the house until 1999, when it was purchased by the City of Florence. The house had reached a critical stage, due to delayed maintenance, and years of leaking roofs had damaged the joists, ceilings, walls and exterior trim. Termites had also taken their toll and cored many of the walls.
The City developed a plan to save the house, using a capital improvements account funded by a one-cent sales tax. Dozens of volunteers and professionals contributed to the restoration and without this major effort the house might have been lost. This treasure, meticulously preserved, is now a museum, open to the public for this City and the world.