Weekend events set for Demopolis bicentennial

Published 10:12 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

Special events being planned for the Demopolis 200th Pilgrimage continue to be announced with the Public Library set to host an information presentation on the French who settled the area in 1817.

The library will host a special Lunch and Learn program on Friday, Sept. 15, beginning at noon, with guest speaker Betje Klier who will present “Bourbons Before Bourbon,” a talk on the French exiles who settled Demopolis. Klier, an independent scholar, will “clear up any confusion about which French people were here in 1817. Who was the Bourbon family and what is Divine Right?,” stated an announcement from the library.

Those attending will also learn about symbols like the fleur de lis and Napoleonic bees and eagles; and the profound clash between the philosophies represented by these symbols.

The work of English-born artist Julyan Davis will be on display during the Marengo County Historical Society’s Bicentennial Pilgrimmage. Davis will also speak on his subjects, including the settling of Demopolis by the French.

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The lunch and learn program has been added to a weekend, Sept. 14-17, full of events marking the city’s bicentennial. Call 334-289-1595 to sign up or email demopolislibrary@gmail.com. BBQ plate lunch from Slabs & More are $7, or bring your own lunch. Drinks and dessert will be provided by the Friends of the Library.

The weekend will kick off at Gaineswood with a reception and time of fellowship on the front porch of the mansion from 7 to 7:30 p.m. At 7:30, guests will adjourn to the drawing room to enjoy a short theatrical drama of the history of Marengo County, Demopolis, the Whitfield family and Gaineswood presented by the Gaineswood Belles and Beaux. The drama will conclude around 8 p.m.

On the downtown square Friday, there will be an extended-hours open house and art walk sponsored by the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce on Friday, Sept. 15, 5 to 7 p.m. Just a block away, at

At Lyon Hall, artist Julyan Davis’ Demopolis works will be on exhibit with a talk by the artist at 6 p.m., sponsored by Marengo County Historical Society. Then guests may walk back to Public Square to listen to Kenny Heard and his four-piece band from 7 to 11 p.m., sponsored by the City of Demopolis. Heard’s music is described as California funk meets Alabama soul.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Bicentennial Pilgrimage of Homes kicks off at 10 a.m. The tour will feature over 16 houses, including Lyon Hall, where Julyan Davis will be painting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Davis’ Demopolis works will be on exhibit at Lyon Hall during those hours as well as Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.

The Helms house was constructed in 1902.

Copies of “Visions of the Black Belt”will be available  and guests may meet authors Robin McDonald and Valerie Pope Burns at Bluff Hall from 1-3 p.m.

Pilgrimage tickets are $30 per person and are available at Bluff Hall, 407 North Commissioners Ave., 334-289-9644, or online at eventbrite.com by searching Demopolis events. A VIP Pilgrimage ticket for $50 will include the tour of all the pilgrimage houses plus a boxed lunch at Rooster Hall with a talk on the Rooster Auction of 1919, at noon on Saturday. In addition, at 2 p.m., VIP ticket holders will be treated to a guided tour of Lyon Hall including the second floor and roof.

Saturday evening will feature a black-tie event at the Demopolis Civic Center featuring the sounds of soul, funk, and R&B known as the Lamont Landers Band. Born and raised in Alabama, Lamont Landers grew up absorbing the soulful sounds of the south that surrounded him and became a YouTube sensation when his sister posted a candid video of him performing that went viral.

The day’s events will conclude with fireworks over the Tombigbee sponsored by the City of Demopolis. Bicentennial Gala tickets are $50 per person and are available at Bluff Hall or online.

On Sunday, Sept. 17, the Bicentennnial Pilgrimage of Homes continues from 2 to 5 p.m. VIP ticket holders will tour two additional houses at 1 p.m.

Guest can learn more about Demopolis’ French roots and the Vine & Olive Colony wallpaper at a talk given by Klier at the Coplin Building, 203 East Washington St., at 3 p.m. Klier has spent years researching the hand-painted French wallpaper painted in 1817, and will share interesting facts recently discovered. Klier’s talk is free to the public.

Davis’ work will still be on display Sunday, from 2 to 5 p.m., and he will also be painting a new piece at Lyon Hall featuring that historic structure’s interior.

For more information on bicentennial events, contact the Marengo County Historical Society at marengohistory@bellsouth.net, 334-289-9644 or find them on Facebook and Instagram at marengo.historical.

(This article originally published in the Wednesday, Sept. 13, print edition of the Demopolis Times.)