*1. Trail begins: You are near the intersection of three land sections representing original land grants. By the early 1800s the towns of Franklin, Rodney and St. Stephens were platted. St. Stephens became the center of the community. At its peak, about 1820, the town could boast over 400 structures including a bank, a hotel, and many fine residences. To your right you will note a rectangular depression, the remnant of a cellar pit that marks the site of a structure along the eastern edge of Franklin. To our left, over the bluff is a large lake formed by years of digging for limestone used in making Portland cement. Some of the original town was destroyed, yet much of it remains, untouched for almost 200 years.

*2. To your right is a rubble mound that marks the site of a building that was on an elevated platform. Just behind the mound is a stone-lined well.

*3. You are standing near the west end of High Street, the main street of St. Stephens. Note that local limestone was a primary building material used for this structure. Cellar pits are unusual in the Southeast due to our high water table, but the elevated land of St. Stephens allowed residents to construct structures similar to homes in other areas.

*4. You are walking down an old logging road that follows along the path of High Street, the main commercial street of St. Stephens. To your right is the remnant of a building marked by a scatter of building rubble. To your left is the public square, an area of "high and rocky ground" that was probably undeveloped.

*5. You are standing near the intersection of High and Spring Streets. To your right is a large cellar pit, thought to be the remnant of the Douglas Hotel where the first Territorial Legislature, under the Direction of Gov. William Bibb, met in 1817.

*6. To your right is a substantial structure on a raised foundation with a rear cellar. The remnant of a limestone wall is visible on the surface, probably marking the front of the building that faced onto High Street.

*7. To your right is an old road cut. Although is has obviously filled in over the years, it marks the approximate route of High Street. To your left is a depression that marks another structure.

*8. You are standing in a "cut" formed by an abandoned Alabama Power Co. right-of-way, now filled with dense stands of crape myrtle. A cellar pit can be seen to your right.

*9. You have reached the eastern limit of the trail. A substantial structure once occupied this area near the intersection of High and Vine Streets. A deep brick-lined well can be seen near the structure remains. The trail now loops back to the Southwest.

*10. You are walking through one of the town blocks, an area that was certainly occupied with many buildings and related structures such as outhouses, fences and various small structures. Although they are not clearly marked on the surface, archaeologists in future years will uncover the record of this area, adding to our knowledge of this important town.

*11. You are standing near the intersection of Spring and Jackson Streets. Jackson Street was also an important avenue in St. Stephens and boasted many fine homes and other structures.

*12. This bridge marks a creek that ran through the town. The layout of St. Stephens is typical of most American cities. Orderly grid patterns of streets and lots were imposed on the hills, valleys, and creeks, without regard to topography. As a result some lots were located in stream beds or on top of rocky ridges.

*13. After climbing the steep trail you have reached a ridge and old logging road near Chambers Street. To your left is a road that lead to the town cemetery on the adjacent ridge.

*14. To your right is a deep cellar pit that marks the location of a structure. Few building materials except local sandstone are present. To your left a pile of brick adjacent to a shallow cellar pit marks the location of a second structure.

*15. A short side trail to your right leads to a substantial structure cut into the side of the ridge. Limestone appears to be the primary building material used in this building.

*16. You are leaving the town of St. Stephens and are moving into the town of Franklin. To your left, near the intersection of this fence corner, is the marker for the intersection of three major sections. In the pasture beyond was the town of Rodney.

*17. To your left is the last structure on the trail. A small cellar pit can be seen.

We hope that you have enjoyed your tour of Old St. Stephens and that you will return as more areas are opened. Excavation projects are planned.


For information concerning park hours, prices, and availability please contact sshc@alabama.gov

The Old St. Stephens website was created and is maintained by Sarah Mattics

Copyright © 2007 by the St. Stephens Historical Commission.
We welcome your comments.

Last updated Tuesday, April 03, 2007