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Huntsville in Alabama.

 

Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census. The Huntsville Metropolitan Area's population was 417,593. Huntsville is the fourth-largest city in Alabama and the largest city in the four-county Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area, which in 2008 had a total population of 545,770.

It grew across nearby hills and along the Tennessee River, adding textile mills, then munitions factories, NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the United States Army Aviation and Missile Command nearby at the Redstone Arsenal. The National Trust for Historic Preservation named Huntsville to its "America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations for 2010" list.

Historic districts

* Twickenham Historic District was chosen as the name of the first of three of the city's historic districts. It features homes in the Federal and Greek Revival architectural styles introduced to the city by Virginia-born architect George Steele about 1818, and contains the most dense concentration of antebellum homes in Alabama. The 1819 Weeden House Museum, home of female artist and poet Howard Weeden, is open to the public, as are several others in the district.
* Old Town Historic District[49] contains a variety of styles (Federal, Greek Revival, Queen Anne, and even California cottages), with homes dating from the late 1820s through the early 1900s.
* Five Points Historic District, [50] the newest historic district, consists predominantly of bungalows built around the turn of the 20th century, by which time Huntsville was becoming a mill town.

Museums
The U.S. Space & Rocket Center exhibits a Saturn I and a much larger Saturn V mock-up along with a number of other rockets illustrating the history of United States space exploration. A simulator in the foreground was built from an adapter cone from the flight model Saturn V.

* US Space & Rocket Center is home to the US Space Camp and Aviation Challenge programs as well as the only Saturn V rocket designated a National Historic Landmark.
* Alabama Constitution Village features eight reconstructed Federal style buildings, with living-museums displays downtown.
* Burritt Museum and Park, located on Monte Sano Mountain, is a regional history museum featuring a 1930s mansion, nature trails, scenic overlooks and more.
* Clay House Museum is an antebellum home built ca. 1853 and showcases decorative styles up to 1950 and an outstanding collection of Noritake Porcelain.
* Early Works Museum is a child friendly interactive museum in downtown Huntsville.
* Harrison Brothers Hardware Store established in 1879, is the oldest operating hardware store in Alabama. Though now owned and operated by the Historic Huntsville Foundation, it is still a working store, and part museum featuring skilled craftsmen who volunteer to run the store and answer questions.
* The Historic Huntsville Depot completed in 1860 is the oldest surviving railroad depot in Alabama and one of the oldest surviving depots in the United States.
* Huntsville Museum of Art in Big Spring International Park offers permanent displays, traveling exhibitions, and educational programs for children and adults.
* Sci-Quest is an interactive premiere hands-on museum for early childhood education, aged four through sixth grade.
* North Alabama Railroad Museum is a railroad museum with over 30 pieces of rolling stock.

Parks

* Monte Sano State Park has over 2, 000 acres (8.1 km2) and features hiking and bicycling trails, rustic cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, campsites, full RV hook-ups, and a recently reconstructed lodge.
* Big Spring International Park is a park in downtown Huntsville centered around a natural water body (Big Spring). The park contains the Huntsville Museum of Art and is home to festivals such as the Panoply Arts Festival and the Big Spring Jam and special events. There are many fish that live in the spring's niche. There is a waterfall and a constantly-lit gas torch.
* Huntsville Botanical Garden features educational programs, woodland paths, broad grassy meadows and stunning floral collections.
* Land Trust of Huntsville & North Alabama is a member supported, non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the natural heritage of the area, and has preserved more than 5, 000 acres (20 km2) of open space, wildflower areas, wetlands, working farms and scenic vistas in North Alabama, including 1, 000+ acres (4.0 km²) of the Monte Sano Preserve (Monte Sano Mountain), 1, 000+ acres (4.0 km²) of the Blevins Gap Preserve (Huntsville & Green Mountains), and 813 acres (3.29 km2) of the Wade Mountain Preserve. Volunteers have created and maintain 33+ miles (53+ km) of public trails - all of which are within the Huntsville city limits.
* The Lydia Gold Skatepark, [64] located behind the Historic Huntsville Depot is open to the public. In 2003, it was dedicated to the late Lydia Leigh Gold (1953–1993), an area skateboarding activist in the 1980s and the former owner of “Tattooed Lady Comics and Skateboards.” Helmets are the only pad requirement. No bikes, scooters, or other wheeled vehicles are allowed – only skateboards and rollerblades are permitted.

Festivals

* Big Spring Jam is an annual three-day music festival held on the last full weekend of September in and around Big Spring International Park in downtown Huntsville. It features a diversity of music including rock, country, Christian, kid-friendly, and oldies. The event was cancelled for 2010.
* The Panoply Arts Festival is an annual arts festival that began on 14 May 1982. It is presented by The Arts Council and is held on the last full weekend of each April in Big Spring International Park and the Von Braun Center. The festival includes six performance stages featuring presentations, demonstrations, performances, competitions, and workshops to promote the arts. There are children's activities, a Global Village, strolling performers, and nightly fireworks displays. Panoply has had three record attendances in a row, averaging 100, 000 for 2007, 2008, and 2009. The Southeast Tourism Society consistently ranks the festival among their "Top Twenty Events" and Governor Bob Riley announced it as one of Alabama's top ten tourism events.
* The June Black Arts Festival is the largest two-day ethnic festival in the Huntsville area. It features the talent of local, regional, and national entertainers and artists in the black community. Begun in 1990 by veteran Huntsville broadcaster Hundley Batts, Sr., the first 17 events were held at the grounds surrounding the WEUP studio complex. Due to parking and traffic considerations, the festival was moved in 2007 to an area near the Lewis Crews Football Stadium on the campus of Alabama A&M University. The Black Arts Festival has been on hiatus for 2009 and 2010.
* Con†Stellation is an annual general-interest science fiction convention. Con†Stellation (also written as Con*Stellation) is generally held over a Friday-Sunday weekend in September each year (as of 2009) but exact dates vary.

Public golf courses

* Becky Pierce Municipal Golf Course, [70] known locally as the "Muni", off Airport Road (named for the old airport, not near the current airport).
* Sunset Landing Golf Club (located next to the airport)
* Colonial Golf Course
* Fox Run Golf Course
* Redstone Arsenal Golf Course (Open to military ID holders)
* Hampton Cove is one of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trails, named after Hampton Cove, and features two championship 18-hole courses and one par three. (Owens Cross Roads, AL)
* Harvest Hills Golf Course (Harvest, AL)
* Chriswood Golf Course (Athens, AL)
* Southern Gayles (Athens, AL)
* Canebrake Club[72] (Athens, AL)
* Richland Golf Center (Huntsville, Al)

Private golf courses

* Established in 1925, the historic Huntsville Country Club boasts a challenging 18-hole course with dining and banquet facilities located just North of downtown at 2601 Oakwood Avenue.
* The Ledges is Huntsville's newest golf community with 18 holes, dining and banquet facilities overlooking Jones Valley.
* Valley Hill Country Club features 27 holes in South Huntsville's Jones Valley.

Libraries

* The Huntsville Madison County Public Library founded in 1818, is Alabama's oldest continually operating library system with 12 branches throughout the county including one bookmobile. The Main Library Archives contains a wealth of historical resources, including displays of photographic collections and artifacts, has Alabama's highest materials circulation rate, and features daily public programs. The library system provides free public access internet computers and wireless internet access in all facilities.

Arts Associations

Several arts groups have passed the 50-year mark: Huntsville Community Chorus Association; Huntsville Art League; Theatre Huntsville (through its parent company); Broadway Theatre League; Fantasy Playhouse Children’s Theatre; Rocket City Chorus; Huntsville Symphony Orchestra; and Huntsville Photographic Society among them.

* Founded in October 1962 as a non-profit organization, The Arts Council, Inc. includes over 100 local arts organizations and advocates. TAC sponsors the arts through five Core Programs: Arts Education—including the “Meet the Artist” interactive, “distance learning” program at Educational Television and ArtVentures Summer Arts Camp; Member Services; the annual Panoply® Arts Festival; Concerts in the Park, a series of “summer serenades under the stars” held at Big Spring International Park in partnership with the City; and Community Information Services, featuring “Boost Your Buzz, ” an annual publicity workshop. Each March, TAC launches the nautically themed SEAFARE, a fundraiser anchored by a seafood buffet, music, and a silent auction. In November, TAC offers pARTy, an annual art sale/cocktail event providing a forum where regional artists exhibit their work for collectors. TAC further champions area visual artists with two galleries: art@TAC, utilizing the walls near the company’s Von Braun Center offices, and the JavaGalleria, in Sam & Greg’s Pizzeria/Gelateria. TAC supports The Bench Project and the strategic planning effort to support Huntsville-Madison County’s economic development goals through expanded arts and cultural opportunities known as Create Huntsville.

Performing arts

* The Flying Monkey Arts Center is located in the historic Lowe Mill under the auspices of Lowe Mill ARTS and Entertainment[82] and hosts a variety of events such as the traditional Cigar Box Guitar festival, the Sex Workers' Art Show, concerts, and many presentations of the Film Co-op.

* Huntsville Symphony Orchestra[85] is Alabama's oldest continuously operating professional symphony orchestra, featuring performances of classical, pops and family concerts, and music education programs in public schools.

* Fantasy Playhouse Children's Theatre, Huntsville's oldest children's theater, was founded in 1960. An all-volunteer organization, Fantasy Playhouse performs for the children of North Alabama both on stage and off. cademy, the organization's dance, music, and art school, teaches children and adults each year. Fantasy Playhouse regularly produces three plays a year with an additional annual play, A Christmas Carol, produced early each December.

* Theatre Huntsville, the result of a merger between the Twickenham Repertory Company (1979–1997) and Huntsville Little Theatre (1950–1997), is a , non-profit, all-volunteer arts organization that presents six plays each season in the Von Braun Center Playhouse. It produces the annual "Shakespeare on the Mountain" in an outdoor venue, such as Burritt on the Mountain. Presentations range from "The Foreigner" and "Noises Off" to the occasional musical ("Little Shop of Horrors", and "Nunsense"). In addition, TH presents drama-related workshops (stage management, stage makeup, etc.), as announced.

* Independent Musical Productions, was founded in 1993 and presents at least one annual main production such as "Ragtime, " "Civil War, " "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum", "Into The Woods, " and "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street". In addition, musicals for children and outreach programs complete the season.

* Plays are performed at Renaissance Theatre, with two stages, the MainStage (upstairs) and the Alpha Stage (downstairs), each with seating about 85. Formerly the commissary building for the historic Lincoln Mill Village.

* Merrimack Hall Performing Arts Center is a nonprofit organization that opened in 2007, after nearly $3 million in renovations to the historic building. It was once the social center of the Merrimack Mill Village in the early 1900s. The Company Store, gymnasium, bowling alley, were all there and provided a place for socialization and recreation to all of the village's residents. Merrimack Hall now includes a 302-seat performance hall, a 3, 000 square feet (280 m2) foot dance studio, and rehearsal and instructional spaces for musicians. Past productions and performers include "Menopause The Musical", "Dixie's Tupperware Party", Billy Bob Thornton and The Boxmasters, Dionne Warwick, Lisa Loeb, Wade Robson, Claire Lynch, and the Second City Comedy Troupe.

* Broadway Theatre League was founded in 1959. BTL presents a season of national touring Broadway productions each year, a family-fun show, and additional season specials. Shows are presented in the Von Braun Center's Mark C. Smith Concert Hall. Recent past productions include "Mamma Mia!", "A Chorus Line", "The Color Purple", and "An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin".

* Ars Nova School of the Arts is a local conservatory for music and performing arts. Ars Nova produces musical theatre, opera, and operetta for the local stage.

* Huntsville Community Chorus Association is the state's second-oldest performing arts organization, producing both choral concerts and musical theater productions. In addition, HCCA features its Madrigal Singers; "Glitz!" (a show choir); a Chamber Chorale; an annual summer melodrama/fundraiser; and three children's groups: the Huntsville Community Chorus (HCC) Children's Chorale (ages 3–5); the HCC Treble Chorale (ages 6 – 8); and the HCC Youth Chorale (ages 9 – 12).

* The Huntsville Youth Orchestra was founded by Russell Gerhart, founding conductor of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra, in 1961. The HYO is a non-profit corporation whose purpose is to “foster, promote, and provide the support necessary for students from North Alabama to experience musical education in an orchestral setting.” The organization has six separate ensembles: the Huntsville Youth Symphony, Sinfonia, Philharmonia, Concert Orchestra, Intermezzo Orchestra, and Novice Strings.

* Huntsville Chamber Music Guild - Organized in 1952 in order to promote and present chamber music programs, the group seeks to present recitals in which artists are presented in works of the classical masters.

Visual arts

* The Huntsville Museum of Art is looking towards its 40-year anniversary, having opened in 1970. It boasts the largest privately owned, permanent collection of art by American women in the U.S., featuring and Anna Elizabeth Klumpke, among others.

* The Huntsville Photographic Society started in 1956. A non-profit organization, the HPS is dedicated to furthering of the art and science of photography in North Alabama.

* The Huntsville Art League held its first meeting in October 1957, adopting the name “The Huntsville Art League and Museum Association” (HALMA). Its current location is 3005 L&N Drive, just south of Drake Avenue near Parkway Place Mall. In addition to their Visiting Artists and “Limelight Artists” series, which highlight both nonresident and member artists at the home office, HAL features its members’ works at galleries located in the Jane Grote Roberts Auditorium of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library – Main, the Heritage Club, and the halls of the Huntsville Times.

Convention centers and arenas

* The Von Braun Center, which opened in 1975, has an arena capable of seating 10, 000, a 2, 000-seat concert hall, a 500-seat playhouse (~330 seats with proscenium staging), and 150, 000 square feet (14, 000 m2) of convention space. Both the arena and concert hall are currently undergoing major renovations; upon completion, they will be rechristened the Propst Arena and the Mark C. Smith Concert Hall, respectively.

Other

* The National Speleological Society is headquartered in Huntsville on Cave Street.
* The Von Braun Astronomical Society has two observatories and a planetarium on 10 acres (40, 000 m²) in Monte Sano State Park.

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