Stroll among historic homes, amble along a picturesque creek-side path or visit a colorful museum. There's much fun to be had in downtown Prattville, and these activities also foster a healthy business community in the district.
“Prattville is a unique experience,” says Stephen Brooks, who with his wife, Carol, owns the Carol Brooks Home & Holiday Shoppe at the corner of Main and Bridge Street. “A lot of folks come downtown to see the old gin site or other historic sites. It’s a destination where they can stroll and enjoy our fine restaurants and our fine shopping.”
The city’s many downtown attractions draw thousands of visitors each year. The Daniel Pratt Historic District and Old Prattvillage showcase beautifully preserved and restored buildings dating to the 1830s when Daniel Pratt established the town. The Prattauga Museum and Archives tells the city’s story from its early days as the “Birthplace of Industry in Alabama,” while downtown walking tours bring that colorful past to life. When it comes to culture, the Creative Arts Center’s gallery hosts a changing calendar of exhibits.
Outdoor fun is just steps away. The popular Creek Side Walk follows the recently refurbished and cleaned Autauga Creek as it winds through downtown. Take a quiet walk, or launch a canoe or kayak and float down a 4-mile waterway. Heritage Park’s three-tiered fountain recalls Prattville’s “fountain city” name.
This historic yet busy setting is a plus for downtown businesses, from Prattville native Albert Striplin’s Key Finance, to Quality Comix, a new business that serves comic book collectors, to Legacy Catering. P’zazz, a multipurpose art studio on Main Street that offers classes and more for children and adults, benefits from its downtown location, says owner Kasey Hope.
“There are so many cool things within walking distance downtown,” Hope says. “Across the street is a garden where my students can go and be little Monets, painting in the garden as he did, and if you go further, you find the creek. You can go buy a cupcake, or just read and sketch on a park bench. It’s a treat to be surrounded by so many little nooks and places to enjoy.”
Prattville’s busy calendar of special events and festivals also helps businesses grow and maintain their clientele. Highlights of the year include the Christmas parade and tree lighting, the Fountain City Arts Festival each spring, a Fourth of July fireworks display, a Mardi Gras parade and such favorites as Touch a Truck, where youngsters can sit in a fire truck, police car or construction vehicle, a Back to School celebration and the annual Cardboard Boat Race.
“In October we have a Kids Candy Walk downtown, which probably exceeds 2,000 children,” says Brooks, who considers downtown festivities “really cool advertising.”
For Anne Moore, a retired schoolteacher who owns The Turtle Shell, downtown community events and recreational activities offer potential customers a chance to explore her store.
“They bring in people who might not ordinarily come to our store, or who don’t realize all the things we have here besides bulletin board sets and teacher’s supplies, like dance wear,” Moore says. “I love working in downtown.”
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