A Brief History -- Huntsville Pilgrimage Association
Early in 1984, a group of interested persons met to consider organizing a Huntsville Pilgrimage Association. This organization, if formed, should be of such a nature as to be of interest to local people, as well as to groups from around the state and adjoining states.
To discuss the feasibility of such an undertaking, the group asked the Madison County Tourism Director and the Director of the Huntsville Convention and Visitors Bureau to meet with them to lend their expertise to the group’s thinking. A productive discussion took place and it was decided that due to the early history of this area, the number of historic homes available for touring, and the many other attractions here, Huntsville should be an ideal location for such an endeavor. Therefore, on June 25, 1984, an organization was formed and plans began for the first pilgrimage to take place April 13-14, 1985.
A Board of Directors was established, composed of the group present at the first meeting. Bylaws were drawn up and the object stated: “To advance the appreciation of the historic heritage of Huntsville and Madison County.”
Early in the plans of the organization it was suggested that the group needed a project for future consideration and the one decided upon was the “historic” section of Maple Hill Cemetery, which was badly in need of assistance. This has been a continuing project of the group, and over the years much progress has been accomplished.
“A Stroll through the Cemetery” was eventually inaugurated, and it has grown through the years and proven to be quite popular with the city.
During the second year of the Pilgrimage, the historic churches of Huntsville were added to the tour. The Weeden House was also added as a bonus, and a donation from the Association goes to the museum each year.
Most recently, the Association initiated a membership program, the Angels of Maple Hill Cemetery, and began publishing a newsletter.
Although many changes have been initiated since 1985, the Association feels it has met its goal each year in presenting historical facts to the public. The Association has been most fortunate to have wonderfully civic-minded homeowners so graciously open their homes for tours. The Association realizes that only with the cooperation of many can it present a living picture of history to the public.