During Handy Festival this year I had the opportunity to visit the Handy Home Museum on West College Street in Florence with my partner Dan and our niece and nephew. It is a quaint little place. There is plenty to ponder but it’s not overwhelming. I wanted to share the highlights of my walk-through, however my pictures and words are not clear enough to convey the sight, sound, and feeling of being in the Handy Home yourself.
William Christopher Handy was born November 16th, 1873 on Cypress Creek in Florence, Alabama. His time at home was used to build a strong foundation that would stretch farther than he ever imagined. The determination, drive and sense of self he cultivated here supported him through his entire life.
The cabin was built by his grandfather, William Wise Handy, and is now a landmark in the Shoals. The picturesque home was relocated from Cypress Creek to 620 West College Street in Florence and turned into a beautiful display of W.C. Handy’s personal items, memorabilia, and a library focused on black history and culture.
During the reconstruction, each log was numbered as it was disassembled so it could be authentically rebuilt.
The information room holds pamphlets on local events and Handy History. However, the real treasure trove is through the door on the left. The Black History library is beautiful. Handy was a collector of knowledge and the library holds copies of things he treasured. It continues grows as new information becomes available.
W.C. Handy played many different instruments, but he preferred the trumpet. Of all of the horns he played, the trumpet in this picture was his favorite.
Handy wrote his own music and there are many original copies of his sheet music on display in the museum. At the age of 70, W.C lost his sight. However, instead of retiring from his long and rewarding career, he learned braille and continued to write music.
The Handy Museum is a beautiful and thought provoking place. As a person who has had physical challenges, learning that W.C. Handy shared my determination for personal responsibility and growth was truly inspiring. The museum is small in size but large in culture and all are welcome to share the legacy William Christopher Handy left for us and future generations.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM. Admission is $2 for adults and $0.50 for students. I highly recommend stopping by and learning about a piece of Shoals music history.
About Amy Amy Burgess is a writer who has found her home in the Shoals Area. Her chronic illness challenged her to find function in the dysfunction. Learning ways to manage has unlocked a love of research. Amy’s blog chronicles her journey to wellness. She has learned the healing benefits of taking care of herself and she challenges you to take care of yourself, because you ~>ARE<~ worth it!