Presented by Bettye Lessley:

It was 1942. The City of Sylacauga was growing, and the houses were to be renumbered. The Junior Chamber of Commerce, who were called the Jaycees, had agreed to tackle the job and were already working on it. They had conferred with several city planning experts and looked over the plans used by some of the best planned cities in the south. The plan was one which allowed for indefinite expansion of the city and was one which would never have to be completely changed.

After the plan was accepted by the city council, the Jaycees began the job of actually putting the numbers on the houses. The new numbers were placed as near the location of the old ones as possible. All citizens were asked to look at their new numbers. If there was a place where the numbers could be seen better, they could be moved very easily.

The plan would enable anyone to quickly find an address. The town was divided into north and south and east and west. Broadway and Fort Williams were used as the dividing lines. All numbers began at the intersection of these streets. If your house was on a street running north and south and was south of Ft. Williams, your number would be South whatever street you lived on, as South Main or South Norton. Your number would be in the same hundreds as you are south of blocks from Ft. Williams. For example, 520 South Norton would be five blocks south of Ft. Williams on Norton.

The same applied if you lived on a street which ran east and west. If your number was, for instance, 630 West Spring, you would be six blocks from Broadway west on Spring. If your number was 421 East First Street, it would be four blocks east of Broadway on First Street. You would know that if you wanted to go to 306 North Broadway, it was three blocks north of Ft. Williams on Broadway, or, that 613 North Anniston would be six blocks north of Ft. Williams.

A map, drawn by E. O. Batson, Jr., entitled “House Numbering – City of Sylacauga,” the layout with this information:
“All Even Numbers on North And East Sides of Streets.” showed the layout with this information: “All Even Numbers On North And East Sides of Streets.”

Now, sixty-four years later, you don’t need this information about the streets and the house numbers. You use this knowledge every day, but the Jaycees had to change the numbers which city leaders had previously assigned to homes and businesses.

For example, in 1940, the original numbers ran from north to south on Broadway. The 100 block was north of Seventh Street. In 1940, Ideal Drug Co. was number 521, Pa’s Café was number 527, and Motes Transfer Co. was number 529.

The numbers on Ft. Williams began on the east side and ran west. Mack Hammons lived on east Ft. Williams. His house number was 900. Mrs. Zula Crumpler, whose house was on the southwest corner of Ft. Williams and Wetumpka was number 901. The home of Mrs. M. W. Peace on the west side of Ft. Williams, which is now the location of the old K-Mart building, was number 1732.

Published in Sylacauga Today August 29 Through September 12, 2006.