By Caleb R. Johnson | Selma Times-Journal

Published Saturday, April 11, 2009

Next Saturday, Sturdivant Hall will come to life with folks dressed in attire from the Civil War era. The Battle of Selma Ball will give attendees the chance to step back in time for an evening of music, drinks, food and socializing.

“It’s really a socializing event,” organizer Elizabeth Hammonds said. “We allow them to come and experience the atmosphere of what it was like at a ball in the 1860s.”

The ball is part of The Battle of Selma weekend. Reenactors can attend the event free of charge, but the public can purchase a ticket for $20 at Sturdivant Hall, the Selma Center for Commerce and Truax & Co. Children under 14-years-old must be accompanied by an adult. Everyone must wear period attire, and men must wear a coat.

“For the ball, we want everything to be authentic,” organizer Manera Searcy said. “So you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the Civil War.”

Sturdivant Hall, located at 713 Mabry St., was built in 1853. The two-story structure survived Gen. James H. Wilson’s raid on Selma and is a major tourist destination in the city. Searcy said it is a well-preserved example of a grand, Southern home.

“It’s a beautiful antebellum mansion,” she said.

The ball takes place in the courtyard, surrounded by hedges, behind Sturdivant Hall. A band will play, and a receiving line begins at 7 p.m. Searcy said the ball allows the reenactors to get acquainted in a unique setting.

“It’s really an experience,” she said.

From a young age, Hammonds attended the ball with her parents. She would stare at the elaborate dresses all night. It was a little girl’s dream, she said.

“Seeing all the ladies dressed in those pretty dresses, I remember being really, really excited,” Hammonds said.

Now, she loves to see the reenactors having a good time. Hammonds said reenactors from across the country participate in The Battle of Selma. The ball is an opportunity for them to forge friendships.

“These people come from all over,” Hammonds said.

Searcy said she expects about 150 people to attend this year’s ball. She said people just plain enjoy stepping back in time. They hear conversations and see clothes that are from a lost era.

“It’s just a more genteel time,” Searcy said