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Harrison Brothers, Historic Museum gain national distinction

HUNTSVILLE – The Harrison Brothers Hardware store no longer sells the wares its namesake family did for generations dating back to the 19th century, but the store at the eastern corner of Southside Square remains a popular downtown Huntsville destination.

Harrison Brothers has been a draw for local, area and regional visitors for years. Now, following the dedication of space inside the Huntsville Historic Museum inside the store, a nod from a national organization could bring more visitors nationally.

The National Park Service recently announced in a news release that the museum and Harrison Brothers building were added to the highly prestigious Reconstruction Era National Historic Network.

“Securing a spot on the Network also connects the Historic Huntsville Museum, Harrison Brothers Hardware and the City of Huntsville to a federally funded program that promotes heritage tourism across the United States,” Donna Castellano, executive director of the Historic Huntsville Foundation which owns and operates Harrison Brothers, said in a new release.

The museum has already garnered national attention for its exhibitions and programs recognizing the history of Huntsville’s Reconstruction leaders, among them brothers James B. and Daniel T. Harrison. They opened their store on the courthouse square in 1897.

 Managed by the National Park Service, the Network connects sites across the nation that provide education, interpretation and research related to the period of Reconstruction, when four million former slaves could first exercise their rights as citizens following the abolition of slavery. 

The Harrison Brothers Building and Historic Huntsville Museum qualify for listing to the Network for two reasons. First, the Foundation’s history exhibition, “Brick by Brick: The Legacy of Henderson and Daniel Brandon,” documents the Brandon family, who were noted Reconstruction era leaders. Second, Daniel Brandon’s masonry firm constructed the Harrison Brothers building in 1902, a place that is one of Huntsville’s most beloved historic places. 

According to Castellano, this is the first of many steps needed to recognize the freed men and women whose commitment to family, education and equality transformed our city, state and nation.

“There are 101 historic sites listed on the Network,’’ she said. “The Historic Huntsville Museum is only the second site in Alabama listed to the Reconstruction Era Network and the first historic site in North Alabama to be affiliated with the National Park Service.”

Harrison Brothers is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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