Craftsman Cottage Opens Downtown

Pam Hertenstein and Sandra Marks
Two local business owners join together and relocate in Downtown Athens.   Kindred Spirits and Simply Yesterday Antiques are now under one roof named the Craftsman Cottage at 100 North Clinton Street.
Pam Hertenstein, owner of Kindred Spirits, and Sandra Marks, Simply Yesterday Antiques & More owner talked about the prospect of finding a place together in October. Spirit of Athens Executive Director Trisha Black recommended the building that would be a perfect fit for their business model and their doors opened on December 1.

“We felt our businesses complimented each other and would also fit in nicely with other stores and activities downtown,” said Hertenstein. “We are thrilled to be downtown. The exposure is incredible and we look forward to being a part of the community.”

Prairie Child Designs

Mudd Puddles Pottery
Kindred Spirits showcases locally made items from 40 different artisans across the Tennessee Valley.  Shoppers can find Sheer Pleasures products, artwork by DeAnna McNiell, Prairie Child Designs, work by internationally acclaimed Mark Moore, “Who, What, Where” art, Mudd Puddles Pottery, and much more.
“The handcrafted items carried in the cottage are made with quality materials just as the antiques were made many years ago,” adds Marks.
Marks has been buying and selling antiques for approximately ten years and she opened Simply Yesterday Antiques & More approximately one year ago. Simply Yesterday Antiques and More has eight dealers with their own speciality. Antiques include furniture, depression era glassware, and advertising memorabilia.
Marks and Hertenstein both emphasize the importance to shopping locally and supporting small businesses.
The Craftsman Cottage joins Shoe Gallery 2, 109 South Marion Street, that opened downtown in September and Little Texas Pizza Buffet, 202 South Jefferson Street, that opened December 20.  Casa Blanca Mexican Cantina and Inez’s Soul Food Restaurant will be opening downtown soon.
The Craftsman Cottage is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 256-998-2486.

DeAnna McNeill's mixed media



Dawn Furline and Pete Woodward with the 2012 Cider Cup
Dawn Furline and Pete Woodward, U.G. White General Mercantile manager, accepts the 2012 Cider Cup for the winning recipe at the Sippin’ Cider Festival.  Second place winner with less than a point difference was CEI Books, followed by Crawford’s Gifts in third place.
The second annual Sippin’ Cider Festival which was held in Downtown Athens on December 8, 2012 and was sponsored by Spirit of Athens and Limestone Chapel Funeral Home.

“The Sippin’ Cider event is a way for us to thank downtown businesses by supporting Spirit of Athens with their annual contribution,” said Letisha Brinkley, SOA Promotion chair and event organizer.  “Successful retail and dining is one of the biggest draws to downtown and we want to celebrate the hard work they put into their business.”

Attendees were able to shop from 5-8 PM in participating businesses, take advantage of store specials, and rate the cider in each business. Those customers that voted on at least five recipes were entered into win a door prize donated by each business. 

Door prize winners are; Jack Warner of Athens won Luvici’s shirt and bottle of Big Jim's bbq sauce, Tyler Coggin of Gurley, a frame from Trinity’s, Alice Whitt of Rogersville, Scarves from Bennett's Clothing, Julie Shelton of Athens, won a necklace set from Claborn Specialties, Dwight Billions of Athens, Frame from Pimentos, Pam Hester of Athens, a Village Pizza certificate for a free large one topping pizza, Peggy Wright, Melissa & Doug toys from Belles and Beaus, Clint Coggin of Madison, Pablos on Market $15 gift certificate, Jonathan Colwell of Athens, Case knife from U.G. White General Mercantile, Brenda Jackson of Athens, CEI Books’ Tote filled with holiday items, and Davidson Crooks of Athens, Gray & Holt $25 gift certificate.

Entertainment during Sippin’ Cider included a live performance by Trey Morgan, train rides by the Athens Lions Club, visit from Santa, appearance by Scrooge and Dickens characters, marshmallow roasting fire pit and children’s crafts. 

The third annual Sippin’ Cider Festival will be held on December 14, 2013.
Kathyrn Flynn, Mac McAlister and Miranda Hudleston, members of the Mayor's Youth Commission, dress up as Dicken's characters.
SOA Volunteers help roast marshmallows


Athens Grease Festival: Just another day for these greasers!

Athens Grease Festival: Just another day for these greasers!: Pete Woodward, Merchant Liason, Diane Lehr, Sponsorship Chair, Tiffany Seibert, Kid Activities Chair, Christy Hubbard, Festival Chair, T...


Thanks to the Athens Rotary Club for sponsoring the downtown banners. In addition to the Square banners, Athens Rotary Club sponsored 16 new Christmas banners that will use another image created during the city branding campaign. 

Three new bike racks should be in place soon. Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful sponsored two racks and West End Outdoors sponsored one.  The racks will be placed near Village Pizza, Limestone Drug, and the Center for Lifelong Learning.  

Spirit of Athens appreciates these sponsors. These improvements improve our downtown.


Volunteer Spotlight
Pam Hartmann, SOA Organization Committee and Downtown Fan!
Pam Hartmann
"Even though I live on the river and teach Retrobics Dance and Fitness classes at The Rec Center,I love to come downtown to do my shopping, lunching,and volunteering.I am originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and I understand the importance of preserving culture and history. The Square is the center of the culture and history in this community."

Married to her husband,John,who works for TVA, Pam loves to bring their adult children to downtown Athens, after a day on the river. According to Pam, one cannot find the same sort of unique downtown experience anywhere else. Pam enjoys the sense of place and belonging to the community that she feels in downtown Athens on ' The Square.'

She says that her love for community is only made larger by the passion she has witnessed in other volunteers with Spirit of Athens. " I have met some wonderful people working with Spirit of Athens. Having this challenge has given me fuller days when I get homesick for my kids and my homestate of Louisiana. Right now,the Organization Committee, is focused and working hard on the upcoming Athens Grease Festival; and although this is the first year,we are excited to see everyone having fun planning the Greek activities and the Southern fried foods."

Pam credits Trisha Black- S.O.A  Director with keeping her challenged and engaged in the Spirit of Athens projects. She enjoys the Organization Committee, which is tasked with attracting volunteers and resources to SOA. "Working with Spirit of Athens, I have been asked to write articles, choreograph dances, ask people to be major sponsors of events, encourage volunteers, and help set up a huge annual meeting and luncheon. I know that I am contributing toward making my immediate community a better place to live," Pam says. 

"Revitalizing a downtown district is important work. I encourage everyone to get involved with Spirit of Athens, in order to see the downtown lit up, literally and metaphorically."


Downtown Buildings Awarded SOA Facade Funding

The buildings at 107 and 109 East Market Street recently received a facelift. SOA awarded the property owner through the facade grant and loan program for the submitted designs and completed facade renovation.  SOA encourages restoring buildings to the appropriate period and enhancing the historic characteristics. 
Gayle Black, Design Committee Chair, Lynne Hart, KALB Director and Design member, and Trisha Black, SOA Director admire renovated facades.

Please email for leasing information on these properties.



Check out this article  that we received from a nine year old Athenian.  He's doing his homework for the Athens Grease Festival...love it!!  Remember to get creative with your fried items.  Vendors can enter into one or more categories; "best fried vegetable," "best fried meat," "best fried dessert," and the "most outrageous."

Food vendor applications are now available online!!


This could be Athens Grease Festival's theme song!!


Athens Grease Festival: Local volunteer to chair festival that will celebr...

Athens Grease Festival: Local volunteer to chair festival that will celebr...: Local volunteer to chair festival that will celebrate all things fried ATHENS, Ala. – Christy Hubbard has volunteered at fundraisers that ...


Fried pie recipe...check out Momma Shirley's  recipe on the Athens Grease Festival blog.



 Email us if you'd like to be notified of volunteer opportunities for the Athens Grease Festival.  We are looking for committee chairs, committee members, and workers the day of the event.

Be sure to also check out the festival website for updates.


We had a great turnout for the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Spring Open House on April 6.  Hundreds of children stampeded the courthouse lawn looking for prize eggs and businesses were hopping with customers looking for those last minute Easter treats.

Volunteers stuff 2000 eggs!
Special thanks to participating businesses; Bennett's Clothing, Pablos on Market, Center for Lifelong Learning, Claborn Specialties, Pimentos, Hyatt and Sims, Crawford's Gifts, LuVicis, UG White and Trinitys.

To see more photos, visit AthensPlus.  



Members of the Organization committee Kay Kime, Deborah Daws and Diane Lehr, promote being healthy and walking downtown.  Spirit of Athens distributing walking route information, iWalk tshirts, and pedometers courtesy of Westside Jiffy Pharmacy.


Residents will soon see 16 new banners downtown made possible by a donation from Athens Rotary Club.  The "Square" banner was designed by Arnett Muldrow & Associates during the city branding campaign conducted last fall.  The 30 x 30 banners will replace the current banners downtown.  When asked during focus group work sessions, the attendees said they referred the downtown area as "The Square."  Ben Muldrow of Arnett Muldrow & Associates, said the new image "embraced the local vernacular." 

The Athens Rotary Club is also funding 16 new Christmas banners that will use another image created during the city branding campaign. 

Three new bike racks should be in place in the next 6-8 weeks.  Keep Athens Limestone Beautiful sponsored two racks and West End Outdoors sponsored one.  The racks will be placed near Village Pizza, Limestone Drug, and the Center for Lifelong Learning.   

Spirit of Athens appreciates these sponsors in making these improvements projects possible in our downtown.  
Volunteer Spotlight
by Pam Hartmann, Organization committee

Letisha Brinkley, SOA Board member and Promotion Chair

"I remember when I would come to visit my Grandad in the summer, he would take me and my siblings to Athens Limestone Drugs for an ice cream cone."

These are the childhood memories that linger forever in the back of one's mind-   a trip to downtown Athens with Grandad on a sultry, summer afternoon for a special treat.   Seen through the eyes of a child, this magic moment was one of many memories that kept calling local realtor Latisha Brinkley back to Athens.  Although born in Huntsville, Letisha's family moved to California when she was two, and she remained there until her late teens.  When  faced with the choice of where to live  upon her move back to the area, she remembered  how she loved the "old time charm and warmth that Athens offers."  Like so many natives, Brinkley admits that it wasn't until she grew up that she came to truly appreciate and acknowledge the beauty of Athens.

Spending time with friends downtown, eating lunch and going shopping in the many boutiques on the square reminded Brinkley how much of a treasure the area offered.  She credits Trisha Black- S.O.A  Director and Diane Lehr- S.O.A. Organization Committee Chair with igniting her desire to get involved with Spirit of Athens, after seeing how passionate they were for the program.

Enthusiastic about her decision, Brinkley stated  "I believe in what Spirit of Athens stands for. I support this program because of what if offers the community and also because of the awesome people that serve in it."

 Brinkley was invited to be on the board of Spirit of Athens in January of 2011 and is now serving as Promotions chairperson.  So what is the Promotions committee all about?  Brinkley summed it up perfectly-  "We are the mouth of the south, so to speak!  It's our job to promote the downtown as a whole, support downtown businesses and promote events downtown.  I believe in the heart of a community and when the heart is beating, the rest of the body can survive!  The downtown area is the heart of Athens."

Letisha recently celebrated her 13th wedding anniversary with her husband Kenny Brinkley of Kenny's Kutz.  They are proud parents to Jamie, Skye and Hannah.  Kenny shares his wife's love of downtown Athens and is owner of Brinkley Ink Screenprinting.
What little girl doesn't like to dress up with makeup and rhinestones? Most do and if you're looking for a special treat for your little princess, "Dash of Sparkle" in downtown Athens is the place to take her. Now open at 316 West Market Street, owner April Craig, will dress them up with diva hair, makeup, and accessories.  Call now to make an appointment, or let her custom design a special event or birthday party.  She also provides services for pageants and weddings.  Call her at 256-614-9147 to learn more.


Spirit of Athens to Host Awards Luncheon on January 31

by Diane Lehr, SOA Board Member and Organization Committee Chair

Mark your calendars for Tuesday, January 31, 2012, and find out what’s popping downtown.

Spirit of Athens is hosting their highly anticipated Annual Meeting and Spirit Awards Luncheon at 11:30 am in the Rogers Center at First Presbyterian Church on Jefferson Street in downtown Athens.  Come out and enjoy a delicious lunch as you hear about the progress that Spirit of Athens has made in its’ quest to move downtown Athens into a bright and promising future. Awards will be presented to a few of the outstanding volunteers and supporters who have demonstrated great interest and service toward the revitalization of Athens’ downtown.  All of the community is invited to the luncheon, which combines the Spirit of Athens annual meeting with the awards’ presentation. This is a great way to show support for the downtown while celebrating with new friends and a few familiar ones.

Have you been interested in finding out more about Spirit of Athens? This luncheon is a great opportunity to hear about the successes and to acknowledge the people who have worked diligently to keep things moving in the right direction.

Although there will be a few guest speakers, the luncheon is planned with an emphasis on fun and food. Spirit of Athens committee members will be visible and ready to offer conversation or information. Help this organization make Athens’ downtown the most successful downtown in Alabama. Seating is limited for the luncheon. Reservations may be made in several ways and the cost for the luncheon is $25. per person. Attendees will enjoy a special meal prepared by LuVici’s and may partake of a smorgasbord of treats and toppings at the popcorn bar. Information on volunteer opportunities, membership and upcoming events will also be available.

The Spirit of Athens, led by executive director, Trisha Black, follows the National Main Street model. The Main Street Four-Point Approach is a unique preservation-based economic development tool that enables communities to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets- from historic, cultural, and architectural resources while hosting and promoting  SOA sponsored community events. It is a comprehensive strategy that addresses the issues that challenge traditional historic downtown districts. The Four-Point approach emphasizes the areas of Organization, Promotion, Design and Economic Re-Structuring. All are invited to share their talents and get involved downtown. Come out and enjoy this entertaining and informative event.

Reservations for the Spirit Awards Luncheon, may be purchased online at www.athensspirit.blogspot.com or you can call 256-232-9040, and leave a call back message, or email tblack@athensal.us.  Reservations are due no later than January 27th.