May 21, 2024

Featured Falcons: Carey Heatherly and Dr. Clark Hultquist

Watching the landscape of a college town shift over time is truly fascinating, from major changes like stately new buildings to something as small as a new tree. Though some things are different, those familiar with the University of Montevallo will still feel at home on the iconic campus and in its surrounding community, even if decades have passed since their time here.

With its vibrant scenery and captivating history, Montevallo is the perfect setting to compare yesterday to today, and two UM faculty members are thrilled to help showcase its rich 200-year legacy.

Carey Heatherly

Carey Heatherly

Carey Heatherly, University archivist, and Dr. Clark Hultquist, professor of history, released their latest title, “Montevallo: Past and Present” earlier this year. The book is made up of selected images from the University’s Anna Crawford Milner Archives and Special Collections paired with present day photographs of the same locations and buildings.

Heatherly and Hultquist previously collaborated on a pictorial history book, “Montevallo: Images of America,” with Arcadia Publishing in 2011. Arcadia reached out to the duo about two years ago in hopes that they would create another Montevallo-based book for the company’s “Past and Present” series, which offers a special view of American life by placing historical images side-by-side with contemporary photographs.

“We said yes within about two minutes because we enjoyed working on the first one,” said Hultquist, who has taught at UM for 27 years (mainly European history) and previously served as chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences twice. “We work together really well, and sometimes that doesn’t happen with colleagues and academics, but that first book was pretty seamless. After 12 years, it felt like it was time to freshen up some things.”

Since then, Heatherly and Hultquist have been working tirelessly to collect and organize the past and present photos and caption them. They first had to make a list of the locations they wanted to feature and consider how they could be organized into chapters. Next, they analyzed what they had in the collection of historical photos and decided which year to use a photo from, while keeping in mind if a modern-day photo could be captured from the same position.

“We thought, ‘Do we want to show the 1896 photo of this, or do we want to show a 1970s image of it?’ That way, if you are looking at all these different books, you can kind of see the evolution of a building,” said Heatherly, who started at UM as a part-time staffer in 2003 and became a faculty member in 2007. As the archivist, he works to preserve and protect historical documents for future generations to use and reference.

Dr. Clark Hultquist

Dr. Clark Hultquist

The duo fell into a rather harmonious collaboration on the project, with Heatherly heading up the archiving and digitization efforts, and Hultquist taking on the duty of snapping the present-day photos. He often took test photos of each location on his camera phone before returning to take the official photographs with a DSLR camera.

“One of the best things about our partnership is that we get along, but also that Carey has a lot of skills that I don’t have in terms of the technical side,” Hultquist said. “And I basically became the photographer, and I liked doing that.”

Some campus structures — Meroney House, for example — proved more challenging to photograph because of trees that have grown. After much work coordinating with the weather and dodging campus construction work, the duo had thousands of photos to analyze and choose the best of the best. Despite the hefty workload, they managed to meet all their deadlines.

“There’s lots of moving parts, and we were also looking for things that we had not covered in the first book,” Heatherly said. “We had access to much more material this go around than we did last time by a long shot. We did have to go out and search for some of the historic images, and we were fortunate to have a pretty good network of people eager to jump in.”

Heatherly and Hultquist agreed on some of their favorite featured photo comparisons — one from Shoal Creek Park, where the 1953 photo shows a family coming home from picking blueberries and crossing a felled tree that is still there to this day, and Reynolds Hall, which was ultimately chosen as the book’s cover art.

“I took multiple photos of Reynolds because it’s such an iconic building,” Hultquist said. “One morning I was taking it from an angle, and it was just coincidental that the sun was reflecting off the building and the reflection of the white building was hitting some of the bricks. So, the bricks were sort of lit up, and it was almost like an entryway to the building itself. I was really pleased with that.”

Heatherly also favors a photo comparison of Main Street where the modern-day version shows the movie set from when Netflix shot scenes from its 2020 film, “The Devil All the Time,” in Montevallo in 2019.

“It’s one that Clark took really by accident — he’s got a photograph of the old cars as they were setting up the movie set, and there’s a historic image that’s very close to that with cars from that era,” Heatherly said. “It’s really colorful and bright. I just think that’s unique.”

Reception to the book has been positive so far. In April, Heatherly and Hultquist hosted a discussion on the book in the Pat Scales Special Collections Room in Carmichael Library. They will be giving a talk on the book to the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce and the Montevallo Historical Society this summer and will possibly have an event on the schedule for next year’s Homecoming.

As for future projects, the duo recently won a grant from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the American Library Association to host “Americans and the Holocaust,” a traveling exhibition that examines the motives, pressures and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war and genocide in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. This month, Heatherly attended an instructional workshop in Washington, D.C., where he got to learn the ins and outs of hosting and marketing the exhibit.

“It’s a smaller version of their ‘Americans in the Holocaust’ exhibit,” he said. “It hits the high points, and that’s what we’ll base our programming around, but we’ll also take it a step further and make it more Alabama and Montevallo centric.”

The exhibit will be in Carmichael Library in January and February 2025 and will feature four lectures from local history and social studies experts.