Huntsville McThornmor Acres Makes History: From the rise of the space program to the establishment of Redstone Arsenal in the 20th century, the Rocket City, Huntsville, Alabama, boasts a rich history. McThornmor Acres serves as a bridge connecting the people and events that have molded Huntsville into the city it is today. This Sunday marked a historic recognition for the neighborhood, once the residence of the early space and rocket program’s workforce.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle emphasized, “The past is sitting right here, and this is what got us here today.” According to city officials, McThornmor Acres becomes Alabama’s inaugural historic district listed in the National Register of Historic Places directly linked to the space race.
The unveiling of the historic marker on Sunday shed light on the neighborhood’s unique story, captivating many. McThornmor Acres was home to scientists, engineers, and military families who played pivotal roles in the early space innovations in Huntsville.
George Allen, a resident for decades, reflected, “We had all kinds of people living here because it was a lot of military and then a lot of scientists that would come from all over the country and of course the Germans.” He added, “Some of Von Braun’s team lived in this neighborhood as well.”
Residents like Allen consider it a privilege to have shared the neighborhood with Huntsville’s early innovators. The brown street signs adorned with rockets and moons in the neighborhood symbolize its historic significance in the city.
Ken Hovanes, whose father worked on the Saturn 1B’s rocket engine, known as the J2, expressed the significance of the neighborhood’s historical recognition. “I’m happy to see that the neighborhood gets a little bit of recognition and says hey this is where a lot of engineers helped contribute to a time that was very different and very important to America,” said Hovanes. “It’s just kind of exhilarating to see, you know, it was just pure engineering, it was a real feat of humanity.”
Residents like Allen, who have remained in the area for years, prioritize preserving its historical importance. He emphasized, “It’s important for me along with my friends in the neighborhood association of maintaining the security and the cleanliness of the neighborhood.”
Current and former residents, along with city officials, gathered during the unveiling, reflecting on the neighborhood’s history that holds a profound meaning in the Huntsville community.