Anniston’s leaders are urging the public to attend on Thursday what they say is one of the most important events the city and Calhoun County will host.
Federal officials — U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis among them — will visit to size up two local sites that could be declared a national monument. One is the spot on Alabama 202 west of Anniston where a mob burned a bus carrying Freedom Riders in 1961; Locals have been working for years to establish a park there.
The other is the downtown building that once housed the station where that bus was first met by angry locals in 1961. The yellow-brick structure, which today houses Howell Signs, opened as a bus terminal in 1952 but served in that role for only about 15 years. National Park Service officials first expressed interest in the building back in July.
1971 — City directories show a new occupant of the Gurnee Avenue space for the first time — Harrell & Son Floor Covering.
1979 — Pete’s Safety Cab Co. is listed in city directories as the latest occupant of 1033 Gurnee Ave.
Nov. 17, 1979 — A story in The Star announces Anniston Business Machines has moved into the old Greyhound station, now listed as 1031 Gurnee Ave. City directories published in 1980 show ABM at that address, while 1033 Gurnee is listed as “vacant.”
Jan. 6, 1995 — Howell’s Signs opens at 1031 Gurnee, according to a December 1994 column by The Star’s George Smith.
May 12, 2011 — As part of events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1961 attacks, the downtown development agency Spirit of Anniston unveils a mural of a Greyhound bus on the wall of 1029 Gurnee, facing the former bus station. Signs there document the history of the Freedom Rides and the attacks in Anniston.
Dec. 2, 2014 — Howell dies, leaving longtime associate Brian Henderson to operate the sign shop “for the foreseeable future,” according to an obituary published in The Star.
Oct. 3, 2016 — The Anniston City Council agrees to seek a grant to help restore the former bus station to its 1961 condition, and says the city has agreed to buy the building for $82,000.