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The Group Travel Leader Small Market Meetings Going on Faith

Destination: Decatur

A conversation with: Lori Boger

Group sales director
Decatur/Morgan County 
Convention and Visitors Bureau
Decatur, Alabama

Decatur’s location and size: 
With a population of 57,000, Decatur is conveniently located near the Interstate 65 corridor in northern Alabama along the Tennessee River.

What is distinctive about Decatur?
In its beginnings, Decatur was a tale of two cities. In 1927, Albany and Old Decatur merged, and today, Decatur has two separate historic districts, both listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Together, the Old Decatur and Albany historic districts represent one of the largest collections of Victorian and early-20th-century Craftsman and bungalow homes in Alabama.

What are the main group attractions in Decatur?
Along historic Bank Street are a variety of eclectic home decor shops, gift boutiques, vintage and antique stores, cozy cafes, pubs and upscale restaurants.

Anchored at one end is the 178-year-old Old State Bank, the oldest bank building in Alabama. It is one of only four structures that remained after Union troops departed, and its columns still bear evidence of musket fire and minie balls. Free tours of the museum include a walk through the first-floor banking lobby complete with its original walk-in vault and a replica of a period teller’s cage. A second-floor apartment is furnished to reflect the period of 1833 through 1845.

Within walking distance of the Old State Bank is the Bank Street Antique Mall, housed in an 1899 historic building. Its three floors of antiques and vintage merchandise include hard-to-find items such as advertisements, coins, American art pottery and antique glass.

Memi’s Pottery, also located within walking distance on Bank Street, is a quaint shop that offers a selection of hand-painted Italian pottery, jewelry and other handmade items.

The historic Princess Theatre serves as the city’s performing arts center.

Housed in one of Decatur’s most significant historical buildings, the former 1904 Carnegie Library, the Carnegie Visual Arts Center hosts local, regional, national and international art exhibits and offers art classes for all ages.

Cook’s Natural Science Museum provides an extensive assortment of exotic insects, mounted birds, animals, minerals, seashells and coral in more than 2,000 exhibits and artifacts. Wildlife common to the northern Alabama region is featured in one display, with more than 50 species of insects, animals and water life from the region.

Nature-lovers flock to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge for an opportunity to experience wildlife in its natural habitat, including a rare glimpse of an endangered whooping crane. Five nature trails wind through the refuge’s 34,500 acres.

The Decatur-Morgan County Amen Trail is composed of 19 churches that are integral to the heritage of the area. They stand on their original sites, are still holding services today and are accessible to the public. With many churches accented by beautifully handcrafted stained-glass windows, the architectural styles presented along the trail include Gothic, Romanesque, Classical and Renaissance.

The Civil War Walking Tour features 11 historic markers that tell the story of the 1864 clash between Confederate forces and garrisoned Union troops at this key railroad and river transportation point. The 13-block stroll is a free, self-guided tour through the Old Decatur Historic District.