Lynn Landers has big dreams of promoting history and art at Phil Campbell. Along with other interested residents, she formed the Phil Campbell Arts and Historical Society, a civic organization in the process of seeking nonprofit status.
Landers, a city councilor for Phil Campbell, said she has been collecting items for years. The old directories, photos and other memorabilia and artefacts are interesting. The biggest problem is fundraising.
“We’re not going to sell anything to do this,” Landers said. “We will be organizing fundraisers and accepting donations. “
Virginia Burks, originally from Phil Campbell, is another founding member of the group.
“I was brought up here,” Burks said. “The city is totally different from what it used to be. I think preserving our past is very important, and it’s exciting to work to remember those we’ve lost and those who came before us.
“Someone showed me a photo near the railroad trestle. There was a pond and a lake there, and people would go swimming and have fun.
The first formal planning meeting was held on July 22 at the Phil Campbell Community Center. The group is negotiating to secure a local building to use as a museum to display historical artifacts as well as to provide a space for artists and writers in the region to display their work.
Landers said they also hope to donate computers with internet access to be a resource for the community.
“We want everyone who is interested to be involved,” Landers said. “Years ago people would go by train and get off at Phil Campbell to row boat and other fun activities. There used to be a seaside resort north of the city.
Most people, Landers said, don’t know much about the town’s history. “Not only is it important to remember our past, it can also inspire us as we move forward and think about what we want to do to make Phil Campbell even better,” said Landers.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” said Chris Ozbirn, director of the Franklin County Archives. “You have to know where you’re coming from – what happened, what worked and what didn’t. I live and work every day to preserve the history of the county. It will be a tremendous asset to our community.
Phil Campbell, Mayor McQuary, also lends his support to the fledgling group.
“This will help preserve the history of our city,” McQuary said. “It will be a source of pride and inspiration for our region, as well as an interesting place for people passing through to stop and learn more about our community.”
Landers said that in addition to donating items or money, people can also help by spreading the word and volunteering once the museum opens.
The first fundraiser will be a Christmas Bazaar, which will take place on November 13 at the Phil Campbell Community Center.
Landers said the bazaar will sell baked goods and host one vendor per brand. Handmade crafts will also be welcome. Garage sale kiosks will not be permitted. A 5 km relay race could also be organized in conjunction with the event.
Landers said about two dozen people are interested in becoming founding members of the new organization. Members will not be required to pay membership fees, but will be expected to participate in fundraising efforts. “It will be a form of giving back to the city that has collected so much,” she said. “I dreamed of it for years.
Those interested in more information about the Phil Campbell Arts and Historical Society can contact Landers by phone at 256-810-4572 or by email at [email protected]