airbnb photos of front porch with rocking chairs

The Black Belt of Alabama

Just a few months after she had launched The Woolworth Lofts on Airbnb, we unknowingly did exactly what A.C. Reeves had spent years hoping travelers like us would do. Like many before us, we drove west from Montgomery to Selma, following the same 54-mile stretch of highway that the Civil Rights activists took east during the March of 1965, crossing the infamous Edmund Pettus Bridge and landing in the heart of Selma. But instead of just snapping a picture and leaving town like most, we booked one of A.C.’s five beautiful suites and stayed. The suites were so welcoming and comfortable, that we added The Woolworth Lofts to bnbNomad’s Featured Stay collection of exemplary Airbnbs. After featuring her suites, we learned that A.C. wasn’t working alone. She was collaborating with a group of creative Airbnb hosts, all opening up their homes along Highway 14 to welcome visitors into the Black Belt of Alabama.

Just a few months after she had launched The Woolworth Lofts on Airbnb, we unknowingly did exactly what A.C. Reeves had spent years hoping travelers like us would do.

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THE STABLE

THE WOOLWORTH LOFTS

THE WOOLWORTH LOFTS

SELMA, ALABAMA

MOORE, WEBB, HOLMES PLANTATION

GREENSBORO OPERA HOUSE

MOORE, WEBB, HOLMES PLANTATION

GREENSBORO, AL

MOORE, WEBB, HOLMES PLANTATION

The region’s name comes from its rich, dark soil, which forms a crescent shape across 18 western counties, stretching from the Mississippi border to the capitol of Montgomery like a belt across the state’s middle. And with the discovery of that fertile soil, followed incredible pain. Like many Americans, our personal associations with this region have anchored solely on its historical injustices: slavery, sharecropping, systemic racism, and poverty. And while the residue of these challenges undeniably lingers, our trip throughout the Black Belt revealed an unexpected surge of ingenuity and optimism pulsing throughout the region.

Our hosts didn’t just open up their homes for us. They opened up their towns, connecting us with generous guides to explore local projects and places.

Hover over or tap the images below to learn more about each destination.

RURAL STUDIO

GREENSBORO MURAL

EVERHOPE PLANTATION

PROJECT HORSESHOE FARM

GREENSBORO, ALABAMA

RURAL STUDIO

DEMOPOLIS, ALABAMA

PERRY LAKES PARK

During our two weeks in the Black Belt, we stayed with Cooper Holmes in Marion, Holly Crawford Ellis in Greensboro, and Barden Smedberg in Eutaw. Our hosts didn’t just open up their homes for us. They opened up their towns, connecting us with generous guides to explore local projects and places. In Newbern, Natalie Butts walked us through the town hall, fire station, and library, just a few stunning creations from Auburn University’s Rural Studio program, which has been educating citizen architects in the region since 1993. In Greensboro, fellows Zavier Carmichael and Katherine Stanton gave us an exceptional tour of Project Horseshoe Farm and its multi-layered approach to rural health care through community. We learned about the renovation of Greensboro’s downtown Opera House with Winnie Cobbs, explored the collection of antebellum furniture at Reverie with Ann Price, and climbed up into the nation’s tallest bird tower in Perry Lakes Park. We ate the world famous pie at the Pie Lab, and started each morning with coffee and an irresistible blueberry muffin from Mo Kitchen at The Stable.

Our hosts’ unbridled enthusiasm, ingenuity, and collaboration brought this corner of the country to life. During such a polarizing moment in our nation’s history, such personal connections have never been more powerful.

Hover over or tap the images below to learn more about each destination.

GREENSBORO MURAL

MOORE, WEBB, HOLMES PLANTATION

EVERHOPE PLANTATION

EVERHOPE PLANTATION

MOORE, WEBB, HOLMES PLANTATION

RURAL STUDIO

We are excited to add the Black Belt of Alabama to bnbNomad’s collection of Destinations. Our hosts’ unbridled enthusiasm, ingenuity, and collaboration brought this corner of the country to life. During such a polarizing moment in our nation’s history, such personal connections have never been more powerful. Our hosts’ generous spirit not only deepened our understanding of where this region has been in the past; it helped us see where it’s going in the future. We hope that by sharing their story of an inspiring Airbnb collaboration, we can send a few more travelers off the typical tourist path and into the heart of the Black Belt.

We hope that by sharing their story of an inspiring Airbnb collaboration, we can send a few more travelers off the typical tourist path and into the heart of the Black Belt.

Hover over or tap the images below to learn more about each destination.

PERRY LAKES PARK

JIM BIRD'S FARM ART

THE STABLE

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One Response

  1. Hi Erin! and Jay. What a great piece. It was so interesting, and of course well written!

    Loved the photos.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned that I was born in New Orleans, and raised, til I was 15. Then onward to Southern California. Can we say “culture shock?!) It was all good.

    I still have a lot of family in Louisiana, and Mississippi. When I was a little girl my mom took some of us kids to visit an old antebellum mansion in Mississippi that was owned by a distant aunt! It was a big family gathering and very overwhelming to me. But a nice memory of the South.

    By for now…

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