Wills explores things that are forgotten

Published 7:14 pm Friday, November 16, 2018

It has been weeks since Chilton County celebrated its 150th birthday, but one thing in particular that has stuck in my mind was the presentation that Glenn Wills, author of Forgotten Alabama, gave at the library.

Wills talked about the focus of his book, which deals with structures throughout the state that for various reasons have been forgotten over time.

He grew up in Huntsville and now resides in Alabaster. You could tell from the way that he carried himself during the presentation that he has a passion for what he does and the state that he calls home.

Wills is retired and has been searching the state highways for interesting landmarks since 2012.

Over the years, he has stumbled across roughly 3,000 different forgotten structures and taken about 30,000 photos.

Such structures include abandoned buildings, bridges and churches.

Once he spots something interesting, the real fun begins as he grabs his camera and investigates it further.

All of his photos are in black and white, which helps capture the essence of certain locations.

Some of the things that Wills has photographed around the state include Rosa Parks’ childhood home in Abbeville, the Old Torch Café sign between Auburn and Tuskegee and the former Southern Railway roundhouse near Birmingham.

Local photos included the old drive-in movie theater screen and the Mims Plantation in Clanton.

However, there are many more interesting things to find in Chilton County and the state that have yet to be re-discovered by Wills.

If you love history, this may be a hobby to consider taking up. Wills started it as a hobby, but it quickly turned into an adventure after he retired.

Although a majority of the structures are abandoned now, they were once thriving destinations. Each structure has a story behind it, and gathering those details can be half the fun.

“Just look around and see the stuff you see every day,” Wills said. “One hundred years from now none of that stuff will be here.”

That is something that got me thinking, and it has since made me realize how important it is to take the time to stop and look at what is going on around me. It is best to enjoy what you have, because one day it may be forgotten.