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Remember when: Tradition, character, craftsmanship make these places matter to our town

Just wondering – Do you ever notice with appreciation the man-made beauty all around us in Andalusia? The tradition, the craftsmanship, the character of our town that mingles with the newer construction is here.

Settlers moved into South Alabama much later than into East Alabama after the Alabama territory became a state in 1819. The first homes that got built were farm houses – not too many plantation houses in this area but some. The downtowns had storefronts that were similar to what we see in the old cowboy movies with hitching posts and dirt or wood boardwalks. Andalusia is no exception. Old newspaper accounts report that “ladies” would often decline to walk downtown with the fear of having to confront an inebriated person who had just walked or stumbled out of a saloon!

From 1844 or 45 during the next approximate 50 years after the village of Montezuma was moved up the hill to the public square, some buildings and some homes were constructed  especially after 1899 when the railroad line was extended and trains started shipping in building materials and mules to haul.

Andalusia accumulated quite an array of residential turn-of-the century showplaces in the sidewalk neighborhoods near the Court Square and on the main streets which were East and South Three Notch and Church Streets (once Sawmill Street) along with River Falls Street. These included Queen Anne Eastlake, Southern Colonial, English Tudor, Cotswold, Victorian “painted ladies,” stone and stucco structures, and even clapboard bungalows.

A good many of the main street residences have virtually disappeared with “progress” over the last 100+ years with the lots being converted into commercial establishments. This trend was seen especially when the by-pass was built in the 1950s as it happened in many towns. Not all historic homes and buildings are entirely gone so we should appreciate what is  left.

I was reminded of this upon visiting an estate sale on East 3-Notch Street last weekend in a solid one hundred year-old home soon to be restored, a fascinating walk back in time. Not too many of us have the features of yesteryeargrand entrance halls, morning porches, butler’s pantries, dining room plate moldings, music parlors, or sleeping porches!

Shown in these photos I wish to share with you readers are some scenes that remain and show off just a few of the architectural touches from long ago that we ride by and just take for granted. Thanks to visionary businessmen of the past and our founding fathers, there are still noteworthy points of interest to be proud of and to help preserve.

The theme often promoted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation is “This Place Matters.” So I know you will agree as some of you can Remember When, we have “come a long way, baby,” but still “These Places Do Matter!”

Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at suebwilson47@gmail.com.