On the night of March 21, 1968, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. sought refuge from the Ku Klux Klan inside a small, shotgun-style home in the depot neighborhood of Greensboro, AL. (This occurred just two weeks prior to the assassination of Rev. King in Memphis, TN.) Mrs. Theresa Burroughs, a close friend of the King family and an active participant of the Civil Rights Movement, turned this small shotgun house into the Safe House Black History Museum which documents the local struggle for equality. It contains relics of the period from slavery through the civil rights movement. Displayed at the museum are many unpublished photos of the civil rights struggle in the Black Belt. These include photos of the Greensboro marches, of Bloody Sunday in Selma, and of the triumphant march from Selma to Montgomery.
Magnolia Grove, an excellent example of temple-style Greek Revival architecture, was built around 1840 as a town house by Isaac and Sarah Croom, whose plantations were about 20 miles south of Greensboro near Faunsdale. The house was named for the 15-acre grove of Southern magnolias in which it stands. Magnolia Grove is a two-story masonry structure, built with bricks that were manufactured locally. The front facade is stuccoed, including the pediment. The sides and rear were left with the brick face exposed.
Rural Studio is an off-campus design-build program of Auburn University. The program, established in 1993 by D.K. Ruth and Samuel Mockbee, gives architecture students a more hands-on educational experience while assisting an underserved population in West Alabama’s Black Belt region. In its initial years, the Studio became known for establishing an ethos of recycling, reusing, and remaking. In 2001, after the passing of Samuel Mockbee, Andrew Freear succeeded him as director. Since that time, Rural Studio has expanded the scope and complexity of its projects, focusing largely on community-oriented work.
The Rural Studio philosophy suggests that everyone, both rich and poor, deserves the benefit of good design. To fulfill this ethic, the Studio has evolved towards more community-oriented projects. Projects have become multi-year, multi-phase efforts traveling across three counties. The students work within the community to define solutions, fundraise, design and, ultimately, build remarkable projects. The Studio continually questions what should be built, rather than what can be built, both for the performance and operation of the projects. To date, Rural Studio has built more than 200 projects and educated more than 1,000 “Citizen Architects.”