Here are the latest MSNHA news releases --

Feb. 6, 2018

Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

University of North Alabama

One Harrison Place, UNA Box 5231

Florence, AL 353632-0001    256.765.5028


April 2 is MSNHA grants deadline

FLORENCE -- The deadline to apply for the next round of Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area community grants is Monday, April 2.

“As more people learn about what the MSNHA is and what we want to do, we are able to help fund more projects that preserve, protect and promote northwest Alabama’s cultural heritage,” said interim director Carrie Barske. “Partnering with community groups to tell stories about our area’s history and offer opportunities for learning about and appreciating our area’s natural resources is MSNHA’s mission.”

Grant awards from $1,000 up to $10,000 are available for heritage-focused projects in MSNHA’s six counties: Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan. To be eligible, proposed projects must focus on assessment, preservation activities, interpretation, archiving or workshops and training sessions and be connected to one of the MSNHA’s themes: music, Native American culture or the Tennessee River.

Guidelines, applications and instructions are at

 In the previous grant cycle, which closed in September, MSNHA received eight applications and approved grant awards totaling $61,982. That’s the largest total award amount since MSNHA opened its grants program in 2015.

Those awards were for a portrait of mezzo soprano Patti Malone in the Scout Music House, submitted by the Athens Arts League; developing a city park with access to Big Nance Creek that will focus on outdoor recreation and Native American heritage, submitted by the Courtland Development Council; interpretive signage for RIVERWILD, an accessible playground, garden and splash pad in Delano Park, Decatur, submitted by the Delano Park Conservancy; local musical performances at First Fridays in downtown Florence, submitted by the Shoals Area Chamber Foundation Inc.; development and restoration of the Tuscumbia Landing Historic Site, submitted by Sacred Healing Circle; an updated sound system for the Shoals Theatre, Florence, submitted by Community Theatre Inc.; and an Americans with Disabilities Act-approved trolley for heritage tours, submitted by the city of Tuscumbia.


 For more information on MSNHA or its grants program, email or visit




Jan. 4, 2018

Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area

University of North Alabama

One Harrison Place, UNA Box 5231 Florence, AL 353632-0001    256.765.5028                  

                  MSNHA receives state arts grant

        The Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area has received a $2,800 grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts to continue recording oral histories about Muscle Shoals music.

            “The Muscle Shoals sound coming out of recording studios in northwest Alabama in the 1960s changed American music,” said Carrie Barske, MSNHA interim director. “While the stories of artists such as Aretha Franklin and the Rolling Stones who came here to record are fascinating, the stories of music makers who lived here and worked and recorded in the Shoals studios—and still do—help answer the question ‘Why Muscle Shoals?’”

            A first round of oral histories, funded by the state arts council in 2014, is available on MSNHA’s Roots of American Music Trail website, Also on the website is information about the Roots of American Music cellphone trail, which takes visitors to historically significant music sites, and details on performances and concerts and other northwest Alabama music news.

            Barske hopes the state arts grant will help add 20 interviews to the almost-30 already produced, she said.

MSNHA is partnering with the University of North Alabama Public History Center and the Florence Fine Arts Academy on the additional interviews, which also will be featured on the RAMT website.

            “Brian Dempsey, director of the history center, is a music historian and will help develop the interview questions and biographies,” Barske said. “And Randy Bruce, digital media teacher at the academy, will work with his high school media students to record the interviews and produce the videos.”

            Lori Reynolds, MSNHA graduate assistant, and Brian Corrigan, UNA Archives and Special Collections graduate assistant, will assist with the interview process and development of new content for the RAMT website. Judy Sizemore, MSNHA special projects manager, will coordinate the project.

The MSNHA was designated by Congress in 2009 as part of the National Park Service’s efforts to recognize culturally significant areas. The MSNHA spans the Tennessee River basin counties of Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone and Morgan and focuses on the Tennessee River, music and Native American heritage.

For more information on MSNHA, visit


Oct. 18, 2017
Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area
University of North Alabama
One Harrison Place, UNA Box 5231
Florence, AL 353632-0001 256.765.5028
Meeting set to discuss restoration of Village 1 school
     A community meeting to discuss restoring and reusing the Nitrate Village 1 schoolhouse, in Sheffield, will be held 2:30-4:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct.29, at the Sheffield Public Library.
     “We want to find ways to help the community and city rehabilitate the building, keeping it as close to the original as possible while utilizing the space in new ways,” said Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area interim director Carrie Barske. “The school is in need of immediate restoration to prevent further deterioration.”
     The MSNHA, city of Sheffield, Alabama Historical Commission and Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments are sponsoring the meeting. Nathan Willingham, of NACOLG, and Mary Shell and Collier Neely, of AHC, will facilitate.
     Village 1—including the schoolhouse--was built in 1918 to house supervisors and employees from nearby nitrate plants. The nitrate factories were planned to help produce ammunition for World War I but the war ended before they were functional and Village 1 occupied. Later, after TVA was formed in 1933, Village 1 (and the now-razed Village 2 in what is now Muscle Shoals) housed TVA workers. In 1949 TVA deeded the Village 1 school house along with streets and playgrounds to Sheffield, and the houses were auctioned to the public.
     “The schoolhouse is architecturally significant, as is the whole village,” Barske said.
     Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the building has been vacant since the late 1990s, she added.
     Prior to the community meeting, an open house will be held at the school, 1-2 p.m. Everyone is invited to both the open house and the asset-mapping session.
Partnered with UNA.