“Beautiful New Building Of The First National Bank Demonstrates Growth Of Sylacauga In Past 30 Years.” Structure Is One Of Finest In The South.” “Alabama Marble Is Used Throughout Building.”

When the doors of Sylacauga’s first banking institution were thrown open to the public thirty years ago the foundation for the First National Bank of Sylacauga was laid.  This was on the east side of Broadway, four doors south of the corner of Broadway and Third, where thirty years later, almost to the day, the doors of the institution again swing wide to the people of this constantly growing community, admitting them to what is undoubtedly one of the handsomest and most modern banking houses in the South commemorating thirty continuous years of honorable banking services.  On Tuesday, May 7, its customers, friends and the entire public are extended a cordial invitation to join them in celebration of this happy event, between the hours of 9 a. m. and 7 p. m.

When this institution made its first bow to the public thirty years ago Sylacauga was a struggling country village of approximately seven hundred souls.  At that time the corner now occupied by the beautiful home of the First National Bank and the Sylacauga Post Office was vacant.  With the exception of the old First National Bank building, the stores now occupied by Wallis Hardware Company and the building of Mr. C. E. Turner, there were no improvements on the east side of Broadway.  These two mercantile buildings at that time were built and occupied by T. J. Mathews, general merchandise, and Conoway Drug Company, respectively.

It is interesting to contrast this situation with the modern brick structure not completely filling the vacant spaces, viz:

First National Bank new building house; Sylacauga Post Office; Borough’s Jewelry Store; J. W. Langley, Optician; C. E. Turner Tonsorial Parlors:  B. and C. Cash Store; First National Bank old office to be remodeled for a commercial house, the second story of which is occupied by Judge Williams, Dr. R. S. Hunt, Dr. B. C. Duncan, the front upper half by Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company which will be remodeled by June first for installation of Common Battery System; Southland Stores; Wallis Hardware Company; Iles Five and Ten cent Store; Scott Café; Thompson Tonsorial Parlors; American Lunch; Palace Drug Company; Wood Jewelry Company; Rex Hotel; McDonald Insurance Agency; Dixie Stage Line; Marble City Inn; Sylacauga Chevrolet Company; balance of block being owned by government for post office site.

In the block directly south of the Rex Hotel, on the same side of Broadway, there was not a building of any character.  In this space-thirty years later we find many modern business building-buildings of brick and cement which would be a credit to any city, viz:

Buck’s Tire and Oil Company; Dr. Felix H. Craddock; Singer Sewing Machine Company; Adcock Grocery Company; American Theatre; Hill Grocery Company; Star Tonsorial Parlors; Munroes’ Cash and Carry; Western Union Telegraph Company; Hurt Pressing Shop; Jordan Insurance Agency; City’s Offices; First National Theatre and Masonic Hall; Sylacauga Infirmary; Offices of Drs. French H. Craddock and Whetstone; Dr. Castleman’s office and residence.

Such was the case in the block still to the South, with the single exception of the frame chapel of the Episcopal Church, upon the site of which now stands the Broadway Service Station.

Immediately North of the new home of the First National Bank on the East side of Broadway and North of Third Street, the entire block was built by Smith Brothers more than thirty years ago and was entirely occupied by them for general merchandise purposes, with the exception of  the store building of the late W. J. Cannon.  Today these buildings are the home of:

City National Bank, upper floor: Dr Stewart, E. L. Smith, atty., and Dr. J. W. Jackson, Marble City Dry Goods Company, Smith and Looney Supply Company; Landham and Shinn Furniture Company.

On the same side of Broadway and North of Noble Avenue, there were thirty years ago only jto be found a frame iron clad store of H. C. Phillips, The Farmers’ Warehouse, Central of Georgia Station, and the old two story brick structure just East of the present High School, a distance of many blocks and extending to the City Park on the north end of the city.  In this space today-thirty years later-there are many modern building, viz:

Sylacauga Service Station, Sylacauga Chevrolet Used Car lot, Central of Georgia General Freight office and Station, Charlie’s Café, S. P. Hagan and Son, Palace Service Station; Hawkins Studios; Shell Petroleum Company.

To many Sylacauga citizens a retrospective review of the many changes taking place, within the period of thirty years will be a matter of personal interest, picturing as it does scenes long since disappearing as Sylacauga has gradually shed its swaddling clothes to (one line omitted) tion the more pretentious ones of a modern American city, such as the old well then on the vacant lot upon which now rests the modern brick building of Goldberg Brothers, and on this side of Broadway in this particular block the space was entirely vacant with the exception of the buildings then occupied by Mr. J. W. Brown as a mercantile establishment, in which is now the home to the Merchants and Planters National Bank and the Leader, a small frame iron sheathed building then situated where now stands the Sylacauga Cash Store and the old Whetstone two story building, space now occupied by Lloyd’s Bakery and the Jitney Jungle.  It is interesting to note that a block then containing only a few building now contains:

Peoples Drug Company, Goldberg Brothers; Merchants and Planters National Bank; The Leader; Iles 5 and 10 cent Store; Pierson, Pearson and Thomas; Sylacauga Cash Store; Lloyd’s Bakery; Jitney Jungle; Coleman Shoe Parlors; Rosenberg’s 5 cents to $5.00 Store; Hagan Drug Company; Second floor by Drs. Davis, Porch and Boozer, Garrett Hagan, atty., and the Chamber of Commerce office; Sylacauga Furniture Company; On Norton between Second Broadway and Norton of this block; Marble City Filling Station, City Fire Department; Sylacauga Wholesale; Michael Construction Company; J. D. Richards Office and Shoe Parlor; Thompson Pressing Shop; Edwards Market; Jones Shoe Parlors.

On the Western side of Broadway between Second and First Streets there were no improvements whatever.  In this space now stand many creditable modern business buildings-a solid block of them in which the following business concerns are to be found:

Mathews Dry Goods Company; Sylacauga Hardware Co; M. O. Thweatt; Sylacauga News; Bridges Market; Nifty Jiffy; Sylacauga Motor Company Display Room and Sylacauga Motor Car Company; Sylacauga Bottling Company; Batson Grocery Company, Lane Grocer Company; Sylacauga Advance; Howard Undertaking Parlors.

In the next block South there were also no improvements of any kind and in which space today stands the modern and creditable Knight Hotel and in the block between Third Street and Noble Avenue on the West side of Broadway there were thirty years ago the buildings now existing with the exception of a one store frame building in about the center of the block.  These buildings are now the homes of Ira A. Watson; Offices of I. D. Wood and V. W. Hagan and B. E. Samuels, atty; Dixie Confectionary, Sylacauga Fruit Store; O. C. Mathews, Franklin Hotel, Sylacauga Produce Company, C. C. Atkinson, R. W. Prather,: Hickman Café; Sylacauga Furniture Company; Branch Store; L. M. Veazey; Stewart Pressing Shop; Son Lee Laundry; Estes Self-Serving Store; J. E. Stone.

The entire space from Noble Avenue North was vacant excepting three story building now used as a dormitory of State Secondary Agricultural School and at that time used as a dormitory and agricultural school combined and a few frame residences which have given way to the modern up to date business buildings occupied by the following concerns:

L. & N. Freight Depot, Union Passenger Station; Southern Cotton Oil Company; Motes Service Station; Sawyer’s Café; Motes Furniture Company; Motes and Company; Ideal Drug Company; McCarty’s Café; Broadway Tonsorial Parlors: Sylacauga Mattress Company; Marble City Bakery, T. H. Owings; City Café; Scott’s Garage; V. V. Kendricks; B. O. P. Motor Company (Buick, Oakland and Pontiac).

Thirty years ago there were no buildings or business houses on the West side of Norton Avenue where are today found the following:

Memorial Hospital, Lyons Brothers, Smith and Howard Gin, S. N. Gamel, Heaslett Auto Supply Company, Ogletree Mercantile Company, office W. M. Peace; Tate Motor Car Company; Hightower Sales Stables; Sylacauga Fertilizer Company; American Marble and Granite Company; Standard Oil Company; R. C. Teel.

Thirty years ago East Third Street was entirely vacant, Today:

J. R. Black Lumber Company, Falconi Marble Works; Eagle Iron Works, Sylacauga Bonded Warehouse.

Thirty years ago Sylacauga had no industries, but coincident with the establishment of its first banking institution, some of its officers and stockholders organized and build its first cotton mill, then know as the McDonald Cotton Mills, later conveyed to the late John M. Lewis who changed its name to Central Mills and who, still later, sold it to the late Governor B. B. Comer and associates, its present owners, who added to the original unit the Eva Jane Mills, the Sally B. Mills, the Catherine Mills and the Blanket Mill, and allied industries such as poultry, dairying, ice manufacturing , laundrying, etc.

During the past 30 years and since establishment of First National Bank, Reynolds and McMaechal erected the Sylacauga Brick Company’s plant, conveying later to M. J. Gregg and associates who sold to Mr. F. M. Van Duesen, under whose management the industry has been converted into a modern shale brick plant.

E. J. Smith built the cotton seed oil plant, selling to the Southern Cotton Oil Company.

While Gantts Quarry was worked locally before the Civil War, it was laying dormant 30 years ago, but was later developed by Hiller & Ford who sold to Henry Evans, New York capitalist; he selling in 1919 to the present owners, Col. Sewell and Messrs. Runge, Harrison, Hiller, Gardner and King incorporated under the name of Alabama Marble Company, taking the raw material from the ground, finishing and installing it complete in buildings throughout the country.

The Moretti-Harrah Marble Company was afterwards organized by G. Moretti, who sold to its present owners, who quarry, saw and sell their own products.

Then comes the development of Madras Marble Corporation by Jno. Wiley, who sold to the present owners and they now saw marble from their own quarries, selling its own products.

Added industries since establishment:  Hightower and Parker Gin, Sylacauga Ice and Coal Company, Duke Brothers Lumber Company, Pan Am Oil Company, Shell Oil Company, Bretts Naval Stores, Henderson and Hosey Lumber Company, Sylacauga Cotton Gin.

Thirty years ago Sylacauga had only one school building in which all grades are taught.  This was the old three-story frame building erected originally for hotel purposes and later conveyed to the state for use of agricultural college. Soon, however, it became necessary to separate the grades and the old brick building nearby was temporarily used for grammar grades.  We now have modern facilities for the city schools and one to the most accreditable high school structure in the state, in which is conducted the State Secondary Agricultural College, the old building being used for dormitory purposes.

Its churches thirty years ago were small frame structures being later superceded by edifices that would be a credit to any city in the South.  The Baptist people then worshipped in an old style one room frame structure, facing Church Street some distance north of the present modern pastorium, which building was abandoned and a new frame church erected upon the site this congregation now occupies and which was again abandoned for the beautiful building and site now in use.  The Methodist congregation thirty years ago worshipped in an old one room frame building located on the hill top near the side of the modern brick structure now in use.  The Episcopalian people then used a small frame chapel on Broadway, which was since sold and a new site on Norton Avenue secured for future use.  Thirty years ago there was no Presbyterian organization in the city. Some twenty years ago the present congregation was organized and soon afterwards erected the frame structure now in use on Norton Avenue, which is soon to give way to a modern brick building at the present site.

Thirty years ago Sylacauga was without a water system, electric lighting system or sanitation equipment of any sort-no sewer system-no paved streets-no sidewalks.  In 1903 the town council, then consisting of T. P. Johnston, Mayor; J. W. Brown, E. S. Smith, F. H. Craddock, J. J. Hightower, R. W. Prather, M. E. Conoway, R. L. Edwards, L. H. Crumpler, aldermen; and E. A. Hammett, clerk, undertook the erection of a water plant, and electric lighting plant, getting the construction well under way before the expiration of their terms of office.  At that time its municipal bonds could not be sold in the Eastern bond markets as the bond houses all stated that the town was too small, with only about 600 to 700 people, suggesting the possibility of so small a number folding their tents and silently stealing away, but the officials succeeded in finding a local market for the bonds, with the proceeds of which the plants were put under consideration and considerable progress made.  The following persons were solicited by the above named city officials to offer for office and take over the administration of the city’s affairs: S. P. McDonald, mayor; W. J. McLeod, C. W. Hammett, R. W. Prather, H. H. Howard, S. S. McClendon, M. W. Peace, T. B. White, J. J. Hightower, aldermen; and E. A. Hammett, clerk; and were subsequently elected, completing the water and light plant, installed a system of sanitary sewers, cement sidewalks, and today the city has all the modern facilities to be found in cities much larger in size.

From a village of some 700 people thirty years ago Sylacauga has grown to its present proportions-Greater Sylacauga, now a city of more than ten thousand people in its trade area…

The Sylacauga News. Friday, May 3, 1929.