HUNTSVILLE – The National Register of Historic Places added Edmonton Heights to its prestigious list a little over two years ago, and Sunday the city dedicated a marker honoring the neighborhood near Alabama A&M University.
Edmonton Heights was a subdivision for Black residents who had been displaced by the urban renewal project Heart of Huntsville. It was platted in 1958. The marker is at the corner of Meridian Street and Wilkenson Drive northeast of downtown.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the city’s growth underscores why it’s important to recognize and celebrate the rich legacy of older neighborhoods.
“This historic marker acknowledges a pivotal moment for our African American community during a turbulent time in our nation,” he said. “Preserving neighborhoods like Edmonton Heights provides an opportunity to leverage the lessons of yesterday to build a brighter tomorrow.”
Katie Stamps, Huntsville’s preservation planner, said it was the ninth historic district to receive the designation but the first historically Black residential neighborhood to be listed.
“Its unique architecture and fascinating history make Edmonton Heights an integral part of Huntsville, and we are very excited to share its story with our community,” she said.
According to a city news release, the neighborhood’s development illustrates the effects of post-war growth, urban renewal and racial discrimination in federal and local housing policy. Its residents included teachers, nurses, brick masons, cab drivers, preachers, cooks and janitors.
Edmonton Heights is notable for its architecture, predominantly intact, post-World War II era housing, and as a representative example of a housing development by Folmar and Flinn, one of the largest speculative building companies in the South at the time. Edmonton Heights is the most well-preserved of the African American neighborhoods established by Folmar and Flinn in Alabama.
Rev. Ezekiel Bell, a founding pastor of Fellowship Presbyterian Church, hosted civil rights leaders Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy in his home after the men were denied hotel accommodations.
Edmonton Heights resident Eddgra Fallin told WAFF 48 in a 2021 story there were other notable former residents in the neighborhood, which fed students to Lee High School.
“The Fletcher House, Mr. Norman Fletcher, he was a mathematician for NASA and he’s probably the reason people went to the moon,’’ she told reporters during a walk-through the neighborhood. “There’s the home of the first and only Black dentist back then.’’
Fallin also pointed out the home where late actor Reggie Cathey grew up, and where Condredge Holloway lived. A three-sport star at Lee, he was the first Black starting quarterback in the Southeastern Conference at Tennessee.
“We could have historical markers of who’s who,” Fallin said.