Monroeville’s 1903 courthouse, which once served as the county seat, is home to the Monroe County Museum. The building was lovingly restored in a grassroots effort beginning in 1989 and concluding in 2002. In 2019, the museum was fortunate to win a grant from Partners in Preservation and American Express for much-needed structural repairs.
The museum today features permanent exhibits dedicated to Monroeville writers Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote, who were childhood companions. The museum annually attracts thousands of visitors from all over the United States and countries around the world.
Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, was published July 11, 1960. Its publication put Monroeville on the map for literary tourists; the novel, now in its 60th year of publication, continues to draw visitors to Monroeville from all over the world.
The film version of To Kill A Mockingbird debuted in 1962, and won a Best Actor Oscar for Gregory Peck, who portrayed Atticus Finch, and an Adapted Screenplay Award for Horton Foote.
Christopher Sergel’s ever-popular theatrical version followed, and has been a springtime tradition at Monroeville’s historic courthouse since 1991. Enacted by a volunteer cast, The Mockingbird Players, and set in the Otha Lee Biggs Amphitheater, on the west side of the courthouse square (Act 1), and upstairs in the historic courtroom (Act 2), the production annually plays to sold out audiences. The 30th Production of To Kill A Mockingbird has been listed in the
Top 10 Events for Alabama Tourism.
A whole industry has grown up around Monroeville’s role as “Literary Capital of Alabama,” a title bestowed in 1997 by official declaration of the Alabama Legislature. There are two self-guided walking tours of the downtown area; one narrated with signage that relates a history of homes and structures in the downtown historic district. In 2009, over 400 structures in Monroeville’s historic downtown were recognized by The National Park Service as worthy of designation on The National Register of Historic Places, including the 1903 courthouse museum, the post office and many other commercial and residential structures.
Businesses throughout the downtown maintain a Main Street flavor. In 2014, Monroeville became a certified Alabama Main Street community, and hired its first Main Street director, currently sharing office space with the Monroeville/Monroe County Chamber of Commerce. Entrepreneurs and artists in the Monroeville Main Street district offer unique items for sale, such as antiques, furniture, original artwork and one-of-a-kind gifts.
Located inside the Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Monroeville, The Bird’s Nest is a one-stop shop with something for everyone. Its offerings include wedding and baby registries, gifts, souvenirs, books, local art, kitchen and food items and home décor.
Monroeville is a featured stop on the State of Alabama’s Civil Rights Trail, as well as a prominent stop on the Southern Literary Trail. The Monroeville Literary Festival previously called the Alabama Writers Symposium, held each spring in Monroeville, brings writers, scholars and literary tourists to the area. Whatever the occasion, a visit to Monroeville is not complete without an extensive tour of the courthouse square area.