Monday, May 3, 2010

Monroeville: Literary Capital of Alabama and Home of To Kill a Mockingbird

It feels like I have been waiting forever to get the chance to visit Monroeville, Alabama, while the annual production of To Kill a Mockingbird is going on. Finally, finally I got my chance. Monroeville was our next stop after Columbus, Georgia, last week on the literary road trip. Monroeville has a population of about 6800 people, and it was declared in 1997 "The Literary Capital of Alabama." This was a good year for me to visit, as we arrived in town the day after author Harper Lee's 84th birthday, it was the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication, and the 20th anniversary of the play production. The town had rolled out the red carpet, so to speak, in celebration in and around the courthouse in the center of town.

Monument for Atticus Finch, "Lawyer, Hero" given by the Alabama State Bar Association.

Birdhouses in honor of the book's 50th year.

The set for the first act of the play on the lawn of the courthouse. The second act was inside the historic courtroom.

A mural of Scout, Jem and Dill and the tree in front of the Radley home. This is painted on the side of the jewelry store on the square across the street from the courthouse.

On our way back to the hotel, we passed the cite where Harper Lee's childhood home once stood, and it is now Mel's Dairy Dream.

Next door is the cite where the Faulk home stood. Truman Capote visited his relatives here many times as a child, and throughout his adult life. The house burned years ago, but some of the foundation remains, and a marker has been placed there to mark the spot. I wonder why there's no marker for Harper Lee at Mel's?

Here's where we ate dinner on the way to the play, Radley's Fountain Grille.

When the evening came, we attended the anniversary production of To Kill a Mockingbird, performed by actors who were local volunteers. You'd never know it though. They were fine actors, and made the book absolutely come to life in a magical way. Bob Ewell, the most despicable character in the novel was spot-on by a man who, for his day job, is a district attorney! All the other actors had a variety of other professions and lives outside the three weeks the perform To Kill a Mockingbird 20 times. Some of the cast members are in the two photos below.

The three children are standing together here.
And, Atticus Finch (in the cardigan) and Heck Tate (in the vest and hat).

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