Western Marion Historic District: An In-depth Exploration

Located in Perry County | What you’ll find: Architectural | Historical | Trips

In 1817, when the US government officially incorporated Alabama Territory, settlers flooded into this region, drawn by its forested hills, prairie grasslands, and rich Black Belt soil. They brought with them skills, values, and cultural institutions—including slavery—that shaped community life here. You’ll find a helpful brochure with a map of Marion and great information here: Marion Walking Tour Brochure.

Originally called Muckle’s Ridge when established in 1819, the city of Marion grew over the coming decades as settlers built homes, businesses, churches, schools, and other community facilities—many of which continue to grace our city.

During the Civil War, Marion’s Howard College served as a hospital for both Confederate and Union Soldiers. In the nearby cemetery of St. Wilfrid’s, soldiers from both armies rest side by side. More recently, during the Civil Rights era of the late 1950s and ‘60s, events in Marion helped prompt changes that led to passage of the Civil Rights Bill.

Take a walk through Marion’s history. The accompanying map and  details guide you through the West Marion Historic District. Be sure to explore all the historic districts in Marion: Marion Courthouse Square, Green Street, West Marion, and Judson College. Each district includes unique examples of Marion’s historic architecture—from our old city hall, built in 1832, to beautiful antebellum homes and education institutions. Be sure to visit the Perry County Chamber website to listen to the stories of Marion and Perry County, as told by residents through an outstanding audio tour of the area.

We invite you to explore them all!

The West Marion Historic District

The original sites of Howard College (now Samford University), Marion Military Institute, and Lincoln School (birthplace of Alabama State University) are here, as well as Siloam Baptist Church and many antebellum homes, including Lockett-Martin, where the first Confederate flag was sewn.

Alabama Military Hall of Honor

Alabama Military Hall of Honor

Alabama Military Hall of Honor Museum (Audio Tour #1) – (Marion Military Institute Campus) Built in 1832 as a law office for John Lockhart, the building was used until 1968 as the Marion City Hall. It was moved to the Marion Military Institute campus, where it has been restored and preserved. In 1988, it became the Alabama Military Hall of Honor, displaying portrait plaques of inductees and military artifacts.

Marion Railway Depot (Audio Tour #3) – (1200 Washington Street) Built in 1907, it replaced the frame depot building, which was destroyed by fire. Interest in railroads began as early as 1834 in Marion. The building is now the home of the Perry County Chamber of Commerce.

First Campuses of Judson College and Howard College (Audio Tours #7 and #9) – (South Early Street and Smith Street) Judson College and Howard College both began at this site.

Marion Military Institute

Marion Military Institute

Marion Military Institute (Old Howard College) (Audio Tour #15) – (South Washington Street) Founded by Alabama Baptist in 1842 as an all-male school, it became the Marion Military Institute in 1888. Several buildings predate 1861. Female and male cadets now attend the school.

Marion Military Institute Chapel (Audio Tour #13 and #14) – (Marion Military Institute) The Chapel, built in 1857, served as a Confederate hospital during the War Between the States.

Lincoln Normal School Campus (Audio Tour #11) – (Corner of Lincoln and Lee Streets) Lincoln Normal was founded in 1867 by freed slaves as a school for African-American children. Former students and friends of Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Phillips, who served as principal for 31 years, dedicated one of the few remaining buildings, Phillips Memorial Auditorium, in 1939. In 1887, a division of Lincoln Normal known as Patterson’s Plantation Home for Teachers was relocated to Montgomery, where it became known as Alabama State University. The Lincoln Museum, located on the site of the Lincoln campus, houses historic memorabilia regarding Lincoln School.

First Congregationalist Church of Marion (Audio Tour #17) – (601 Clay Street) Organized and constructed in 1871 by freed slaves and the American Missionary Association, the Congregationalist Church is the oldest and most unaltered of the churches build by African-Americans in Marion.

Siloam Baptist Church

Siloam Baptist Church

Siloam Baptist Church (Audio Tour #22) – (505 Washington Street) Founded 1822, the present Greek Revival building dates from 1849. Located in the church parlor is the table around which the Domestic Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) was organized. The building was made of bricks fabricated by local slaves and included a balcony for the slaves who worshipped here. These same slaves established Berean Baptist Church. Siloam members were also instrumental in the founding of Judson College, Howard College, Marion Military Institute, and The Alabama Baptist newspaper.

Lockett-Martin-Austin House (Audio Tour #37) – (211 West Lafayette) Built in the early 1840s by Napoleon Lockett and his wife, Mary. Mrs. Lockett and a group of Marion ladies sewed the original Stars and Bars of the Confederacy flag here.

King-Colburn-McMillan House (Audio Tour #35) – (309 Clay Street) Built for General Edward King in 1819. General King played a strong role of the area’s development. He served as a trustee for the University of Alabama and as a member of the board of directors of the Marion Female Seminary, and he was one of the founders of Judson College. He also contributed the use of his office for the earliest printings of The Alabama Baptist newsletter. Rarely seen in the Black Belt is the one-story raised cottage. Some windowpanes are blown glass.

Lovelace-Lewis-Hunter House (Audio Tour #38) – (303 West Lafayette Street) Built circa 1840 by John Huntington, son of the Revolutionary War veteran Roswell Huntington.

Tailbird Billingsley Home

Tailbird Billingsley Home

Tailbird-Billingsley-Waites House (Audio Tour #49) – (South Washington Street) This Greek Revival home was built in 1852 by Dr. Henry Tailbird, the second president of Howard College.

Reverie (Audio Tour #46) – (West Lafayette Street) Joseph Thompson Whitsitt built this Greek Revival masterpiece in 1858. The grounds feature a large wisteria vine that predates the house, a knot garden, and a vineyard.

(photos courtesy of Rural SW Alabama)



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