Smithsonian, local exhibits draw crowds in Pell City

Despite a rainy Saturday morning, more than 100 people attended the July 19 ribbon cutting and official opening ceremony of the Smithsonian exhibit, The Way We Worked, at CEPA, the Center for Education and Performing Arts.

The night before, more than 100 more got a ‘sneak peek’ at the exhibit at a reception honoring donors, including Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell.

Pell City Players, the local theater troupe, dressed in period costume and played characters of key figures in the city’s early history. They engaged the crowd, telling them all about the historical figures in character as if they were those figures.

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In just seven days, more than 1,000 people from the local region and multiple states have made their way through the exhibition, which features an actual traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution, exploring the way America worked over the past 150 years. The Pell City Works Committee has been developing a massive, local exhibit that surrounds it, featuring old photographs, artifacts and historical narratives of the way Pell City and other south St. Clair County towns worked.

Click here for a WBRC’s news clip about the exhibit opening.

“Our committee has been working hard to make this a signature event for our city and our region,” said Project Director Pam Foote. “We think visitors will be surprised at the depth and creativity of our exhibit, and we hope they will enjoy exploring our city’s and our country’s history along with us.”

Special events are being held throughout the exhibition period at CEPA and the Pell City Library, kicking off a few days before the exhibit actually opened. The exhibit period goes through August 23.

“Assistant Library Director Susan Mann along with CEPA Artistic Director Kathy McCoy have done an incredible job putting together a series of free events that follow our theme,” Foote said. “We hope everyone will join us for these entertaining and engaging programs. And, of course, The Way We Worked is free and open to the  public as well, thanks to a partnership of Alabama Humanities Foundation and the Smithsonian.”

Foote went on to say, “This has been an incredible experience for our community. Not only did our committee gather bits and pieces of our history but every day, people are coming in with more old photographs, artifacts, old papers and things like replicas of old buildings that no longer exist. What a great way to be a part of preserving our past.”

It has also become the springboard for discussions about establishing a museum for the city. “We have been encouraged by our governmental leaders, who are now talking about creating a museum so that none of this is lost. That is very rewarding,” Foote said.

Exhibition hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the exhibition and events, go to Following are the remaining events planned in conjunction with this exhibition:


Date TBA

Alabama Robotics Technology Park Mobile Lab, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

This mobile lab will be in front of CEPA each day. See how we work now and in the future with robotics technology in action. Demonstrations and tours throughout the day.


Aug. 6

The Life and Times of Coach William Glover—Noon at the Pell City Library

Join us as we celebrate the life and legacy of retired head football coach of Pell City High School, William Glover.  Be on hand to welcome him back to Pell City and hear his story!


Aug. 13

“Fiddlers, Banjo Players and Strawbeaters:  Alabama’s First Pop Musicians”–Noon at Pell City Library

Special guest lecturer and Alabama Humanities Foundation Road Scholar Joyce Cauthen, will expound on the contributions of old-time fiddlers to their communities—their daytime work and nighttime music, and highlight local musicians and the early fiddles played by them.  Mrs. Cauthen’s husband, Jim will play the fiddle, performing period songs, backed up by Mrs. Cauthen on the guitar, banjo or broom straws.


Aug. 18-20

Ag in Action Trailer at CEPA 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily

Farming is an integral part of the way we worked and still do. This mobile learning lab will be in front of the CEPA building, featuring videos, computer stations, farm games and interactive learning stations.


Aug. 20

Books, Blue jeans and Bluegrass–Noon at the Pell City Library 

Join us for a celebration of books, blue jeans and bluegrass as we commemorate Avondale Denim Day at the Pell City Library with live music, sweet tea and camaraderie!  The program will also serve as the finale for our annual Adult Summer Reading program at the Pell City Library. The entire community is encouraged to wear denim in honor of one of the traditions at Pell City’s grandfather industry, Avondale Mills.


Aug. 23

Closing Day–Exhibit comes to a close at CEPA

For its final day, the exhibition will be open on Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

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