If you’re considering relocating to Huntsville, you’re interested in more than just real estate. You’re going to be interested in the culture of the town, and what there is to do. Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment is one of the most engaging places to spend a day in all of north Alabama, and it’s just a couple of blocks from downtown Huntsville. In this re-purposed factory that was built back in 1900 you’ll find the largest center for the arts in the southeast. Lowe Mill is home to working artists that span the range of the arts. You’ll find photographers, painters, sculptors, glass workers, jewelry designers, luthiers, musicians and more. There’s also a vintage record shop, restaurant and candy shops. There’s live music on weekends (seasonal, and weather permitting), art classes of all types imaginable, and the Flying Monkey performance theater.
Lowe Mill was built by Massachusetts native Arthur Lowe around 1900, and was one of several local mills where locally grown cotton was turned into cloth. After the economic ups and downs of the next few decades, the mill transitioned to a cotton warehouse, and eventually to a shoe factory. Vietnam soldiers wore Genesco boots that were made at the factory in the old Lowe Mill building in the 60s. Genesco closed the factory in the 70s, and Huntsville’s own Martin Industries used the building as a warehouse for locally manufactured heating systems in the 1980s. In 2001, Huntsville biotech mogul Jim Hudson acquired the property, and he owns it to this day. The mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places a few years ago.
The Arts & Entertainment
Drive along Memorial Parkway on a weekend night in the summer and you can’t help but notice the purple and pink lights on the water tower of Lowe Mill just to the east. That’s because there’s usually an outdoor concert of some type happening on the Lowe Mill grounds. Many up-and-coming singer-songwriters have performed at Lowe Mill.
For me, I really enjoy going inside to the shops and galleries. It’s always fun to meet and talk to the artists about their work. Many of the artists here teach as well as display their work, so they’re approachable and easy to talk to. Your first choice when you arrive is to either explore some of the shops in the smaller building to the left, such as Vertical House Records and Tangled String Studios, or to go right on in to the main building. Keep in mind that all three floors of the main building are unique in atmosphere, so don’t even try to judge this place until you’ve visited all three floors. Aside from the funky sandwich shop Happy Tummy on the first floor, the first floor can feel a bit formal. So make sure you wander up to the second and third floors. Each floor is it’s own world, and there’s a lot to see on each one.
The photos below show just a few of the galleries and shops I visited.
Robert Bean is an artist that I enjoyed talking to, and I enjoy his work. He has a recurring character (based on himself) that appears in many of his paintings. Jim Jobe, another artist whose work struck me, has a totally different style, with geometric shapes that form patterns, and the patterns form larger shapes that every viewer can see something different in.
Seeing the instruments crafted right here in Tangled String Studios by NASA-engineer-turned-luthier Danny Davis is something every aspiring musician will appreciate. Each handmade instrument has American-made craftsmanship that ranks right up there with any Martin or Taylor guitar being made today, and Danny loves to talk to anyone who has an interest in guitars and stringed instruments. You can commission your next fine instrument to your own specifications, including selection of woods, body and neck styles. My family is full of musicians, so Tangled String Studios is always a favorite stop for us. Half of Tangled String Studios is dedicated to a recording studio run by Danny’s son Ben. They have all the bases covered for the serious musicians.
For stringed instruments of a not-so-serious nature, the Nickel Cigar Box Studios offers a wide range of simple-to-play stringed instruments that are fun, funky and eclectic. No one’s going to compare these instruments to a Martin guitar, but they sure are fun to play and listen to. I had to drag my husband out of this one.
Well, I’ve only scratched the surface. You can find out more about Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment on their Facebook page.
2211 Seminole Dr.