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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Visiting Harper Lee's Hometown

I am not alone in listing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee as one of my favourite novels.  For this reason, I’ve always wanted to visit Monroeville, Alabama, Lee’s hometown, which was used as the model for Maycomb in the novel. 

Monroeville calls itself the literary capital of Alabama because Harper Lee and Truman Capote had roots in the town. 

Apparently, one of the must-see sites in Monroeville is the Old Monroe County Courthouse.  The courthouse is now a museum, with the second-floor courtroom restored to its 1930s appearance.  (An exact replica of the courtroom where Lee used to watch her father in court sessions was recreated in Hollywood for the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird.)  There are two exhibits in the museum, one focusing on Lee and one on Capote. 

In the spring, from mid-April to mid-May, an all-local cast known as the Mockingbird Players, stages a play based on To Kill a Mockingbird.  “The first act of the two-act play takes place at the amphitheatre on the lawn of the Courthouse Museum.  Act II takes place inside the historic courtroom.  Once inside the courtroom, you will see the trial unfold as Finch makes a passionate plea in Robinson’s defense. The members of the jury are always selected from the audience, so you might get a shot at sitting on the jury during the second act” (  Apparently tickets sell out quickly. 

A self-guided walking tour, known as Monroeville in the 1930s, is available with sites such as the building where Lee’s father had his law office, the building where Capote’s cousins ran a millinery shop, the location of the Boulware house believed to be the model for the Radley house, and the jail. 

Other places to visit include the Budget Inn (where Lee met Gregory Peck), David’s Catfish House (where Lee was known to indulge in the house specialty), and Mel’s Dairy Dream (located on the site of Lee’s former home).  There’s a To Kill a Mockingbird mural, a Truman Capote historical marker, bronze statues of the novel’s young characters, and a birdhouse trail with several birdhouse designs depicting scenes from To Kill a Mockingbird.  You can eat at the Mockingbird Grill or Radley’s Fountain Grille where Radley’s BLT Supreme is featured in the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die”.