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Spotlight on New Albany: Taking a step back in time

In this episode of Spotlight on New Albany, WTVA's Katrina Berry spent time talking about New Albany's downtown.

Posted: Aug 22, 2018 1:46 PM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 5:09 PM

NEW ALBANY, Miss. (WTVA) - New Albany was first founded in 1840.

The town was completely destroyed by Union soldiers during the Civil War in 1863, but the town rose from those ashes.

What makes New Albany thrive and flourish?

Take a stroll in downtown New Albany and it's almost like stepping back into time.

Many of the buildings in the downtown area are listed on the National Historic Register.

Billye Jean Stroud is the New Albany Main Street Director.

"I think of a small, quaint Southern town with a vibrant downtown and vibrant citizens and a community that all comes together," Stroud said.

But what is it that sets New Albany apart?

The city was recognized in USA Today as the Best Small Southern Town in 2017 and most recently, the prettiest town in Mississippi in the House Beautiful Magazine.

"One of a kind jewelry store, a bakery known nationwide, great dress shops - one store has been there since 1950, great mix of restaurants and retail shops," Stroud said.

New Albany Mayor Tim Kent agrees.

"People are just finding out what we have known all this time. It's just a small Southern hometown, with a home friendly atmosphere."

Then there's the addition of the Tanglefoot Trail, Mississippi's longest Rails to Trails conversion.

The 43.6-mile trail is nestled in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage area.

And another fun fact, the original railroad that once traveled through here was built by William Faulkner's great-grandfather.

"We knew it was going to big, but we didn't know how big," Stroud said.

The trail starts in downtown New Albany and then travels through Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma and Houston.

There are other recreational treasures in New Albany, which include the Tallahatchie Trail.

Many residents enjoy taking a peaceful stroll along the Tallahatchie River, taking in the serenity and the beauty of nature.

Did you know that New Albany is part of a quilt trail?

Jill Smith is the director for the Union County Heritage Museum.

"We've got more than 100 in Union County. When I realized Mississippi did not have a quilt trail, I looked on the big quilt trail map, I thought that's what we need to do," Smith said.

What is a quilt trail?

"The whole quilt movement across the nation is called the Barnes Quilt trail and it shows an appreciation the efficient use of materials. When women made quilts in the early days, they used bits and pieces that couldn't be used any other way and they did it in a beautiful geometric way," Smith explained.

New Albany became a part of the quilt trail in 2013. It marks the 150th anniversary of when New Albany was burned to the ground during the Civil War.

"We tried to find something that would embrace everyone and everyone has homemade quilts. The soldiers had them. It was just a way to talk about that in a beautiful way," Smith said.

There is a lot to discover in downtown New Albany.

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