Florence Alabama is one of the oldest towns in the state, and it is also one of the most active.
Located in Lauderdale County, it is both the largest as well as the principal city in the Florence-Muscle Shoal Metropolitan area.
The area includes not only this town, but the towns of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia as well.
The town is also considered to be the major economic hub in the northwestern portion of the state.
There is one very interesting fact however, about this area in Alabama; there was only one hospital located among the four towns, until the year 2018.
The town of Florence was first surveyed by the Cypress Land Company in 1818, by the Italian surveyor Ferdinand Sannoner.
He was the one who gave it its namesake, after the Tuscany region of Italy, and it was incorporated in the year 1826.
The Florence Female Academy was established in the town in the year 1847, however it closed in 1893.
This historic and quaint southern town is known for two things not only in the state of Alabama, but in the south: Museums and Festivals
There are six major Museums located in the town, and they include the following.
The Kennedy Douglas Center for the Arts is the center for several things in the area.
They include activities, exhibits, as well as Regional and National events.
This very popular center showcases artists from around the United States, as well as offering both classes and workshops for all age groups.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Indian Mound Museum is the largest of its type in what is considered the “Tennessee Valley Region”.
The largest of the mounds in the area was built circa 500A.D. and it is believed to be relevant to a local tribe and ritual.
The museum itself displays numerous Native American artifacts from both the Mound itself, as well as from the surrounding areas.
These represent several different cultures that date back over 10,000 years.
Pope’s Tavern is perhaps one of the best-known historical stops in the entire south.
It served as a hospital for the Confederate as well as the Union soldiers during the Civil War.
It was also a very well know Stagecoach Stop and Inn, and it houses not only Civil War artifacts, but several antiques for the 1700 and 1800’s.
It is one of the oldest structures in the town of Florence.
The W.C Handy Home and Museum is dedicated to the town’s most famous son, often referred to as the “Father of the Blues”.
The House was a log cabin where Handy was born, and the museum contains a collection of his personal papers and artifacts.
The Rosenblum House has one very important distinction; it was the only building in the entire state designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and was built in 1939.
It was the first home in Florence to have carpeting as well as under the floor heating.
The Children’s Museum of the Shoals has exhibits that show the history as well as the people and events that make up the area’s history.
The Museum is specifically designed to promote learning through a “hands-on” environment, and has workshops year around for children.
There are seven major Festivals that also make Florence famous, and they include the following.
The Sam Phillips Music Celebration is a week-long event that happens that first week of January.
It celebrates the life of Sam Phillips and has several events relating to his life.
Although Sam is credited for the birth of rock and roll, as well as discovering several artists such as Elvis Presley, he is also famous for other venues.
These venues include rhythm and blues, gospel, as well as country.
The George Lindsey Film Festival started in 1997, and is named in honor of George Lindsey, who played the famous “Goober Pyle” on the Andy Griffith Show.
Mr. Lindsey was a graduate of Florence State College.
The Spirit of Freedom Celebration is an annual event held on the Fourth of July and is presented by the Shoals Radio Group.
There are always thousands in attendance for a variety of musical acts.
The W. C. Handy Music Festival is the best known of all of Florence’s Festivals, as in the last part of July or early August, musicians from across the county gather together.
The focus was originally blues and jazz, but the venue has now grown to include country, rock, as well as gospel.
In September, Florence becomes the stopping point for the Trail of Tears Remembrance Motorcycle Ride.
This ride is in remembrance for the Native Americans who were shipped off to Oklahoma and the Midwest, by the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
The Alabama Renaissance Faire is held the 4th weekend in October, and it celebrates Florence’s heritage.
It includes arts and crafts, reenactments, magicians, as well as musical performances.
First Fridays in Florence is a fast-growing arts and music event that occurs the first Friday from April through December.
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