Monroeville, Alabama, home to 6,500 residents, is hoping to completely rebrand itself from sleepy town to tourist destination. Known as the hometown of famed author Harper Lee, and the basis for Maycolm, the fictional setting of her masterpiece To Kill Mockingbird, Monroeville plans to attract literary lovers willing to go on a pilgrimage. According to The Guardian, the Harper Lee Trail is already under way in Monroeville at the 1909 bank where Lee’s father, the lawyer Atticus Finch was modeled off of, kept his law office. This historic building is being refurbished as a museum dedicated to the author and her work, and is set to open in March 2017, just over a year after Lee died. Meanwhile, plans are in the works to construct three replica houses from the classic book, including Scout’s and Boo Radley’s homes.
Though Lee shunned the spotlight during her last years in Monroeville, the town has been eager to celebrate its most famous daughter for sometime. A few years back, they held a large festival honoring Mockingbird’s 50th anniversary, which Lee avoided completely. On top of risking criticism for turning the quiet Southern town into a commercial entity stripped of its genuine character, some critics have raised worries about the tone and message of To Kill Mockingbird being lost. As a book that spoke honestly about the struggles facing African-American’s in the mid-20th century that argued for civil rights, its political stance could be forgotten in the hubbub of seeing quaint stuck-in-time houses that do not communicate the ugliness of the era.