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Old places become new again in Huntsville
By Tom Adkinson
August 11, 2023

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huntsville alabama stovehouse
The breezy atmosphere of the food plaza at Stovehouse contrasts dramatically with the locations origins as a stove factory. Image by Huntsville CVB

HUNSTVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville, famous because of its role in the futuristic pursuit of space exploration, also has an admirable affinity for times gone by. Proof is at three locations just west of downtown. Decades ago, they were a textile mill, a stove factory and a high school.

Today, they are an artist colony, a mixed-use dining–entertainment-retail development and a place that still feels like a high school but that now houses breweries, restaurants and an axe-throwing parlor.

lowe mill
Concerts outside Lowe Mill are a bonus attraction during warm weather months. Image by Huntsville CVB


Lowe Mill opened in 1901 and was Huntsville’s fifth textile mill. It went bankrupt in 1932, became warehouse space and then was revitalized as the shoe factory that made most of the jungle boots American soldiers wore in Vietnam.

In 2001, it took on a completely different feel as Lowe Mill ART & Entertainment. Spread through multiple buildings are 150 studios where more than 200 artists work. Stroll through to meet painters, fashion designers, ceramic artists, jewelry makers, glassmakers, photographers, sculptors, printmakers, woodworkers and more.

danny davis guitar maker
Danny Davis once was a space industry engineer, but he changed careers to become a guitar maker. His shop is a prime attraction at Lowe Mill. Image by Tom Adkinson

One of Lowe Mill’s most appealing spaces is Tangled String Studios. This is the business of Danny Davis, a space industry mechanical engineer turned maker of beautiful guitars. You can watch him and others at work and perhaps listen to a performer on the studio’s small stage.

Lowe Mill has food purveyors who are artists, too. Rafael’s Table has pastas, sauces and oils. Pofta Burna International Cafe has both sweet and savory crepes (the Dracula crepe has roasted chicken, organic spinach, pesto and more). Pizzelle’s Confections has chocolates too pretty to resist.

Stovehouse, originally the Martin Stamping and Stove Factory, is only a mile away. Construction of the factory’s original building began about 1928, and the complex eventually grew to have 226,000 square feet under roof in 31 contiguous buildings, according to Stovehouse chief operating officer, Jonathan Barnette.

While the Martin factory produced gas and electric heaters, Barnette says, “We created a backyard oasis in the city. We’re manufacturing leisure.”

wood fired pizza oven
Your high school never had a wood-fired pizza oven the way Campus No. 805 does. Image by Huntsville CVB

A focal point at Stovehouse is an open space called the Leisure Lawn and Food Garden. Leisure comes from games such as bocce ball, foot billiards, cornhole and 4-square. Food comes from outlets such as Komodo Ramen, Parm + Pepper (specialty sandwiches/pizza/salads), Bark & Barrel BBQ, Oscar Moon (ice cream) and the delightfully named Oh Crepe!

You can be mobile with adult beverages at Stovehouse. One source is Pour Me Another, and a second is the Brewers Cooperative, a collaborative establishment of five big-name Alabama brands. It includes a 220-seat restaurant and 40 beer taps.

Barely a three-block walk from Stovehouse is a third example of Huntsville’s adaptive reuse of old structures. Locals call it Campus No. 805, Campus 805 or simply 805.

campus 805 huntsville
The hallways in parts of Campus No. 805 still reflect high school days. Details include decal-covered lockers. Image by Tom Adkinson

Enter Campus No. 805, and you’ll experience a wave of déja vu because this once was a middle school and a high school. Some hallways remain as they were when filled with teenagers, with decal-covered lockers and beige walls.

What’s dramatically different is that the tagline for Campus No. 805 is “the South’s premier brewery and entertainment venue.”

Yes, step right in to find Yellowhammer Brewing, Straight to Ale, Pints & Pixels (beer and video games), the Lone Goose Saloon, 3rd Circle Cellars (wine, cider, mead and tapas) and the Bar (16 taps and weekend live entertainment), among others.

Extending the “this isn’t like my high school” feeling are businesses such as the Huntsville Ballroom for dance instruction, Arcadia Tattoo, the Off Beat Coffee Studio (specialty coffee and vinyl records) and Ronnie’s Raygun (beer and pinball machines).

Sports, of sorts, remain important at this former high school. X-Golf Huntsville offers virtual golf (with the addition of a permanent 19th hole bar), and Civil Axe Throwing offers a bigger test of accuracy than shooting free throws in the gym ever did.

Trip-planning resources:,, and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is included in the third edition of the book, which is available at

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