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Scottsboro Jackson Heritage Center

Joshua Shiver, Auburn University
The Scottsboro Jackson Heritage Center in Scottsboro, Jackson County, is a historical and cultural museum dedicated to preserving and promoting the history, customs, traditions, and art of Jackson County. The center is headquartered in the historic Brown-Proctor House (ca. 1881), which contains a museum featuring exhibits that tell the story of human settlement, interaction, and culture in Jackson County from the earliest Native American inhabitants into the present day. The museum also promotes local artists and artwork through both permanent and traveling exhibits.
The Scottsboro Jackson Heritage Center consists of three separate exhibit areas: the "Brown-Proctor House," the "Sagetown" pioneer village, and the "Little Courthouse." The Brown-Proctor House was built in 1881 by John A. Brown and purchased by Gen. John R. Coffey for his daughter Sarah A. Coffey and her husband Charles William Brown in 1884. It was acquired in 1907 by its other namesake, John F. Proctor, who performed extensive renovations between then and 1911. An attorney by trade, Proctor also served in the Alabama House of Representatives and Senate and was the court-appointed lawyer for the defendants in the infamous Scottsboro Trials during their first trial in 1931. His family occupied the home until the 1980s. The two-story house is made of masonry and fronted by a two-story portico supported by four Ionic columns. The home originally featured a double portico with Tuscan columns on the ground floor and Ionic columns on the second, according to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) inventory performed by the Alabama Historic Commission in 1982.
In 1981, the Jackson County Historical Association (founded in 1974) and local community members convinced the city of Scottsboro to purchase the property for use as a museum. In 1982, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1985 opened as the Scottsboro Jackson Heritage Center. The Sagetown pioneer village consists of buildings that represent north Alabama's pioneer heritage, including a blacksmith shop and a log cabin. The Little Courthouse consists of the early Jackson County Courthouse, which was in operation from 1868-1871.
The museum's exhibits in the Brown-Proctor House chart the evolution of Jackson County, beginning with the period when Native Americans first inhabited the area 12,000 years ago. Using artifacts from the Paleoindian, Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian Periods, visitors can learn about the technological and cultural advances of the area's Native Americans as well as the various tribes who inhabited the area through the time of first contact with white settlers. Exhibits also include information on white settlers in the area from Jackson County's founding in 1819, through the establishment of the nearby Memphis and Charleston Railroad, the role that the area played in the American Civil War, and into the present day.
The Scottsboro Jackson Heritage Center also serves as a library and archives for local history and genealogy as well as an art museum. Public records from as far back as 1820 in the collection include those from the Orphan's Court, Chattel Mortgages, Commissioner's Court, Chancery Court, and Circuit Court. (Jackson County was founded on December 13, 1819, one day before the state.) The Heritage Center also possesses numerous medical and store ledgers from local businesses dating from the 1830s to 1890s as well as a library of area histories and family histories. It also exhibits various pieces of local and national art through permanent and traveling exhibits.
The center hosts various events and revolving exhibits throughout the year including the Heritage Center School Art Show, which displays artwork from students in nearby elementary, middle, and high schools; the Pictures of Hope art exhibit; the Celebrating Ladies Hats exhibit displays women's hats from the 1880s through the 1970s, and the Christmas Open House in December. The center is also available to rent as an event space.
The Scottsboro Jackson Heritage Center is located at 208 South Houston Street. It is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Published:  August 20, 2018   |   Last updated:  August 20, 2018