About Us

History of the West Alabama Heritage Learning Center

Our Story

The late Marvin L. Harper, local historian and preservationist, had a dream of establishing a facility where children could learn about the history of West Alabama. He envisioned a place where written records, stories and heritage could be preserved and passed on to seceding generations.

The Shirley Place Foundation Inc., a tax-exempt 501c 3 organization, was created to oversee the building and management of a learning center. The board solicited funds and purchased a beautifully restored early 1900s house at 911 Main Avenue, opening to the public in 2016. Field trips and tours were made available in 2018.

The source of the many documents, records and other research materials donated to WAHLC are part of the collections of Marvin Harper, Lackey Stephens, Carl Adams, Marie Rushing, Maggie Sudduth, and others. These sources helped to complete the vision and purpose of our facility. WAHLC welcomes additional collections of local history, both written and oral, from any member of the community.

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Portrait of Marvin Harper

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West Alabama Heritage Learning Center

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Our Research Library