There are places in Montgomery where few people have been. Some are just too dangerous while others are kept secret for security reasons. But Tim Lennox got in to some of them for an Alabama News Network Extra Report this evening. We call it "Where You've Never Been".
One is a Montgomery building thousands of people drive past the every day...Tens of thousands of people come to visit it, yet two architectural features of the Alabama Capitol Building can't be appreciated till you get really close
The balconies on the front of the 1851 building are a distinctive feature, the doors inside are locked for safety. but senior restoration artisan for the building bob canter, unlocked the doors and led us out....take a look at this view down dexter avenue! ...all of the materials on the balcony are original, from the wood flooring to the wrought -iron railings. The spikes of wire at the top of the columns are there to keep bird visitors away.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Capitol Building is its dome . and while everyone can see it from the outside, access to the upper levels inside is limited.
"Nobody's probably going to get an opportunity to come up where we are.? Canter--"no , , uh, insurance purposes don't allow people to come in here..."
But we were allowed in. Canter led us up several flights of steep winding stairs---previous visitors have signed the walls---legend says this small side room was used as a hiding place for the state treasury during the Civil War... ...up one final set of metal stairs and suddenly you're on the walk-way on the outside of the dome...that clock was an 1850's gift to the state from the City of Montgomery.
Back inside--- on the highest interor level in the dome, Canter talked about the 1930's work that made the once all white interior... burst into color...
"Some of the finishes that you see up there are very interesting because you don't get to see them up close and person, all of the gold that you see in the rotunda is gold leaf which is a very complicated process.. and so, such as this molding here...that molding is all plaster there's very little wood molding in the rotunda it is all plaster molding"
the dome and the rest of the capitol building underwent a six year restoration starting in 1985.
Another hidden place in montogmery is the penthouse of the Capitol Towers apartment building in Downtown Montgomery. It was the scene of the most deadly fire in state history in 1967. 26 people died here in a fire in what was then called dales penthouse.
Real Estate developer Jerry Kyser owns the building now, and says some people come by asking to see the penthouse...
Kyser says the penthouse was completely upgraded after the fire and has been rented as office space almost all of the years since. It's empty now, but he expects a new company to lease it soon. You certainly can't beat the 360 degree views!
Tim: This doesn't look like much but there was a village here, a Native American village centuries ago ..we can't even tell you where we are because of fear of illegal diggers coming here looking for indian artifacts."
The land is on the National Register of Historic Places.. Ned Jenkins is the Senior Archeologist with the Alabama Historical Commission. He says there would have been about 200 people living in this village in the year 1,200:
"These were the first agriculturists in this region. they grew primarily corn and some beans and squash. the corn could be prepared about a hundred different ways. and of course they hunted and fished as well"
The pre-creek indians who lived on this land were the original Alabamians. Now all that's left are a series of burial mounds, barely distinguishable in the overgrowth to the casual observer, but immediately recognizable to a trained eye.
while most folks can't go to the indian village site, the capitol dome or balcony, or to the penthouse of the capitol towers, here are some links to information about each of those places:
Alabama Capitol Building, tour information & Virtual Tour
Capital Towers Penhouse--report on 1967 Fire
Shine, Jere, SIte-- Native American Village SIte