“You’re not from around here, huh?” a blonde middle-aged woman asked as I snapped another photo of the water tower. “No ma’am, just visiting.” We were standing outside Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment in Huntsville, AL. It’s a historic factory building that’s been a textile mill and shoe factory in the past and has now become the biggest privately owned arts facility in the United States. The attraction features 148 working art studios for more than 200 artists, in addition to six art galleries, a theatre, and performance venues. Inside the main building, three floors of hallways are lined with studios displaying a variety of local artists work including printmaking, photography, jewelry, ceramics, stained glass, textiles, sculptures, and painting.
Visitors can roam the halls and check out artists’ studios and artwork. An open door means you’re welcome to come in, talk to the artist, and look at or purchase artwork. Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment is open to the public Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6:00 pm, Friday from noon to 8:00 pm, and Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Additionally, there are even classes and workshops available to learn the basics of art, enhance your skill set, or just to have a little fun. The local artists host and organize these events themselves.
“There’s free music at Concerts on the Dock tonight,” the friendly Huntsville woman shared. “It might just be moved inside because of the rain. I can show you where it’ll be.” Every Friday night during the spring and fall Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment has a free concert from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. Attendees are asked to donate $5 for parking. The concert is usually outside at Lowe Mill East Dock under the water tower, but weather doesn’t stop them. They’ll move the show indoors if necessary. Attendees are welcome to bring chairs, pets on a leash, and picnics. Lowe Mill is also the location of the annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival. The 2017 event on June 2 is the 13th annual.
Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment is home to independent businesses in studios outside of the building on the dock and in old railroad cars. Piper & Leaf is a local family-run tea company and their location in Lowe Mill was their first shop and where they currently do most of their production and shipping. Their tea is blended with ingredients from local farms. As soon as I walked into Piper & Leaf, they offered me three samples to try — all delicious. I went for the refreshing Summertime Chai. You can order their teas hot or cold and can enjoy them in the laid back atmosphere in their seating area.
Located in Railroad Car 4, Pizzelle’s Confections is a candy store owned by two sisters. Their chocolates and truffles are not only delicious but also beautifully handcrafted — it’s edible art! Pizzelle’s Confections also has home-made marshmallows, cakes, and pastries. It’s the perfect spot for a few culinary treats and a hot chocolate. Maybe you want a light meal or delicious coffee? Alchemy Lounge, located on the north floor, offers soups, breads, quiches, and other dishes with ingredients from local farmers and businesses, in addition to freshly pressed expresso and specialty drinks. The lounge has a great environment for reading a book and enjoying a delectable drink or beautifully-crafted meal.
When we travel, it’s important to support local businesses and interact with locals. A trip to Huntsville would not be the same without a visit to Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment. This facility allows locals and visitors alike to get out and be involved in the Huntsville community and support local artists and businesses. It even has a farmer’s market every Saturday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, so there are plenty of opportunities to interact with and support locals all at one place. Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment is located at 2211 Seminole Drive | Huntsville, AL | 35805. Be sure to stop by when in Huntsville!