Remember When: Change came to Square in ‘59
“My baby whispers in my ear, Umm, sweet nothin’s; He knows the things I like to hear, Umm, sweet nothin’s…” Singer Brenda Lee recorded and sang this song in 1959, “Sweet Nothin’s.” She performed at the Big Bam Show in Montgomery at Garrett Coliseum. My friends and I went to her show – driven and chaperoned, of course, by some of our parents. This song reminds me of the new place to socialize and eat downtown. Retro is the décor. The young crowd has taken to it! The young at heart, too!
Everybody’s talkin’ about the new sandwich/ice cream shop, Milky Moos, in the skyscraper on Court Square and South Cotton Street! I asked my grandsons, “Did you eat in the Mezzanine?” They looked kind of puzzled and replied, “What is the mezzanine?” So this column is dedicated to answering that question and telling about what was happening in and around the Public Square back in 1959.
A front page article in The Andalusia Star-News caught my attention as I perused the January 1, 1959 archival edition.
“Six-story Structure Reportedly Sold for Some $60,000. – The old Commercial Bank building, one of the landmarks on Andalusia’s City Square since the early 1920s has been sold to the Timmerman Insurance Agency. Terms of the sale were not released either by the seller, the Commercial Bank, nor the buyer, but it is understood that the transaction, one of the most sizable in the city’s realty history, involved some $60,000.”
“The deed to the property, Andalusia’s only multi-story office building, was transferred Saturday, December 27, 1958. The Timmerman Agency takes over the building operation January 1, 1959.”
“Frank Timmerman has advised The Andalusia Star-News that offices of the Timmerman Agency will be moved from the Prestwood Building to the mezzanine of the old Commercial Bank Building.”
“This transfer of location for this business is significant, because B. L. Timmerman, Frank’s father, and Frank Timmerman since he first became associated with the business, have operated with offices in the Prestwood Building for the past 57 years.”
“Frank Timmerman said that the story has always been told that his father located in his office in the Prestwood Building at the time when stairs were being erected in that structure in 1901. B. L. Timmerman died February 1, 1948. The son Frank has been engaged in the business for some 30 years.”
“The new Timmerman offices in the Commercial Bank Building will be via elevator used for other offices in the building. No tenant has yet leased the former bank quarters, Timmerman said.”
“The six-story Commercial Bank Building has 48 offices above the first floor. It was completed and first occupied in 1923 by the old First National Bank.”
“The Commercial Bank founded in 1933 acquired the building on January 1 of 1937 and moved into the quarters on March 1 of that year. Until the new Commercial Bank Building was erected on Church Street, the Commercial Bank has been situated on the ground floor of the building.”
“Banking regulations prohibit a bank to own an office building other than a structure that the bank occupies, and this was one reason for the sale of the property.”
Another ad appeared in the classifieds a few weeks later in January. “Desirable Office Space Available, Business Building with Steam Heat, Electric Lights, Water, and Janitorial Service Furnished, Timmerman Insurance Agency, Mezzanine Floor, Timmerman Building (Formerly Bank Building), 101 South Cotton Street, Andalusia, Alabama.”
February 12, 1959 – “The Old Baptist Sanctuary Is Only a Shell – Only a half-empty shell of a building stands adjoining the Court House where the historic old First Baptist Church formerly stood. Pictured is a bulldozer of a wrecking company, moving the pile of debris from the wrecked house of worship where more people were married, more persons were baptized, and more funerals were held than in any other Andalusia structure.”
“The old First Baptist sanctuary served that congregation for some 54 years, being complete just after the turn of the century. The First Baptists now worship in a magnificent new church on East Three Notch Street. Annexes are now being added at the new church plant that will bring to more than half a million dollars the Baptists have invested in their new sanctuary and adjoining buildings.”
“The old First Baptist property has been acquired by Covington County. It is planned to place office buildings there to serve local, state, and federal agencies.” (Randolph Watson photo)
So that is the story on the square in 1959 – one historic building being restored and one being torn down!
I love these next two ads that ran in the local newspaper back then. We can get ideas for advertising our town and our businesses today from these old advertisements!
January 8, 1959 – “All Roads Lead to Andalusia – Andalusia is the center of geographical importance. It is located so that it is convenient to reach with a minimum effort for people of this county and all the surrounding counties. Many have already discovered how easy it is to trade in Andalusia. Convenience and accessibility are becoming more important every day. Trade where these two features are a ‘watchword!’”
January 22, 1959 – “It Takes Teamwork To Make a Successful Community so get on the team and trade in Andalusia!”
Remember when Green Stamps were saved by housewives? The local Piggly Wiggly grocery store advertised, “WE GIVE S & H GREEN STAMPS, Live Better – Save S & H Green Stamps.”
REMEMBER WHEN Editor Ed Dannelly loved to promote Andalusia and wrote in The Andalusia StarNews on March 12, 1959? “The remark, ‘Andalusia is the best little town in the world’ is heard often. It is because of the people who live here.”
Readers, I believe most of you will agree that this still holds true almost 60 years later! Just look around at all of the Hurricane Michael relief efforts of citizens, businesses, schools, and churches all over this county. One can be assured that “Covington Truly Cares.” “Andalusia, the Heart of South Alabama” – that slogan certainly fits this October 2018!
Sue B. Wilson, AHS Class of ’65, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at email@example.com.