Downtown Huntsville contains three districts that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places—Twickenham, Old Town, and Five Points. I highly recommend obtaining the “Historic Huntsville Tour” brochure and the “Downtown Huntsville” map. They can be downloaded from the internet or obtained from the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Tour brochure lists a selection of buildings and homes in each district, and provides an address as well as some historical background. The “Downtown Huntsville” map shows an overview of the areas covered by each district in case you want a better idea of where to walk or drive. (The approximate boundaries for each district are provided below.)
Twickenham Historic District
Designated by the City of Huntsville as the Twickenham Historic District on March 23, 1972. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 4, 1973.
“Twickenham” was the first official name given to Huntsville when it was chosen as the county seat in 1810. Leroy Pope, Huntsville’s fist developer, named it after the English hometown of poet Alexander Pope. According to the Tour brochure, anti-British sentiment was the principal cause of the city’s name being changed to Huntsville (in honor of John Hunt, the area’s first settler). According to the City of Huntsville, the Twickenham district includes approximately half of the original Town of Twickenham.
While Twickenham contains homes of various architectural styles, more than 65 of them are antebellum homes. According to the CVB, Twickenham contains “one of the largest concentrations of antebellum homes in the South”. Most of the homes in this district were built before 1860.
North: Randolph Avenue / South: Lowe Avenue
West: Franklin Street / East: California Street
Old Town Historic District
Designated by the City of Huntsville as the Old Town Historic District on December 12, 1974. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 18, 1978.
According to the Huntsville Old Town Historic Society, half of what is now Old Town was incorporated into Huntsville in 1843 and the other half in 1871, and “Growth was encouraged because the area was within walking distance of downtown Huntsville, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad depot and the City’s first cotton mill on Jefferson Street.” Old Town saw continued growth until after WWII, when the area began to deteriorate as a result of the population boom. The area experienced revitalization upon being designated a historic district.
While Old Town contains mostly Victorian homes, there are also a few antebellum houses. Most of the homes in this district were built between 1870 and 1930.
North: Walker Avenue / South: East Clinton Avenue
West: Lincoln Street / East: Andrew Jackson Way
Five Points Historic District
Designated by the City of Huntsville as the Five Points Historic District on October 28, 1999. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2012.
Five Points is named for the intersection of Pratt Avenue, Andrew Jackson Way, and Holmes Avenue. The Five Points Historic District Association describes Five Points as “a community within a community, where the past blends with the present, and has a character that gives its residents a shared sense of history and connection with a ‘spirit of place.’”
Five Points includes one and two-story Victorian homes, bungalows, Cape Cod houses, and ranch-style dwellings. According to the Tour brochure, “this neighborhood illustrates the evolution of middle-class housing in 20th century Huntsville.”
North: Bierne Avenue / South: Wells Avenue
West: Russell Street / East: Grayson Street