Remember When: The new post office
Published 4:00 pm Friday, February 25, 2022
When Covington County was created in December 1821, a place just south of a business known years ago as the brick yard in River Falls was selected as the county seat – Montezuma. A post office was established there on January 6, 1826 and was named Covington County Courthouse or Covington C. H. This name was changed to Montezuma on July 14, 1826. John W. Devereux was the first postmaster and remained in office until February 14, 1835.
According to the July 4, 1946 edition of The Andalusia Star, “Montezuma remained the county seat for the next 18 years. In the early part of 1841, the Conecuh River overflowed and did much damage to the village which was inundated by what has since been known as the ‘Harrison Freshet.’ Loss in property and livestock was disastrous. A terrible epidemic of malaria followed that flood. Already there had been talk of moving the county seat to a higher location.
A new place chosen and first called “New Site” was located on top of a large nearby hill even though there was considerable disagreement among the people over the site of a new courthouse. The legislature finally stepped in. On July 18, 1844, the name of Montezuma was discontinued and the Andalusia Post Office was established with Charles G. Lynch as postmaster.”
According to the late G. Sidney Waits, “The establishment of the Post Office would certainly underline the fact that a community had been permanently established. Many articles have been written about the new location atop the Devereux, but I have never seen any factual documentation to support the name ‘New Site.’ There is a record where a Confederate soldier listed ‘New Site’ as his home. Maybe there was some reference to the new county seat (often spelled site).”
The location of the first Andalusia Post Office may have been a single structure on the Public Square shown on a hand-drawn 1889 map. It appears to be marked on the east side of the square when Attorney Mike Jones office is situated today.
By 1915, the post office was located in a building on the north side of East Three Notch Street to the left of the Padgett home and beside the J. Morgan Prestwood home. An old photograph shows the first motorized mail carrier units in Alabama located in Andalusia. There were five Model T Ford touring cars used in the postal operation. They were pictured beside this particular building that is no longer there.
Postal employees identified in the picture were Postmaster Jim F. Brawner; Postal Clerks, Homer Garrett and Lanford Cook; Carriers of the five Andalusia routes, Clyde Brawner, Barney L. Graves, L. Pearl Driggers, B. B. Padgett, and J. P. Stanley. A newly paved sidewalk and an un-paved street were prominent in the picture. Waits noted a caption in the picture he posted in one of his CHS newsletters, “People walked around town back then so sidewalks came several years before the streets were paved.”
December 1, 1924 – The Andalusia Star reported, “The sealed proposals for the construction of the new post office building at Andalusia will be opened on December 30. The action for the erection of this handsome a single story, non-fireproof structure approximately 74 X 66 feet in size will be learned of with much interest in Andalusia and throughout this territory. At the request of the Kiwanis Club through its Public Affairs Committee, Congressman Lister Hill reopened the negotiations to secure funds already appropriated for such purpose. It is a source of general gratitude to the citizenship generally here that the efforts made are soon to bear fruit.”
December 11, 1924 – “Postmaster J. F. Brawner yesterday received the plans and specifications for the new brick post office building that is to be erected on the government’s vacant lot just below the Western Union Office on South Three Notch. These plans are open to the public and may be seen at the local post office.”
April 9, 1925 – “S. J. Young, supervising architect of the new post office building here, was a guest of the Kiwanis Club. He stated that Andalusia should have a finer building than the one called for in the specifications for he sees possibilities here of a great business center, but you will be proud of the building we are going to give you with the funds allowed under the modest appropriation made available for the building and equipment.”
June 30, 1925 – “Work on the new post office is making progress and the walls are going up rapidly which gives the new structure form to indicate just what a fine building we are to have. The building is to be trimmed in white stone and will be a most attractive structure. Architect Young takes a great interest in all that goes on in Andalusia. He and his estimable family are very much at home here as they are identified with the social and church life of the community.”
November 24, 1925 – “The new post office building which is in course of construction and on which the exterior work is complete, has had its appearance very much enhanced by having the sidewalks and the lot surrounding the building cleared of all rubbish. It will be completed in a few months and will be a substantial as well as a much needed addition to Andalusia’s public buildings.”
April 1, 1926 – “LOCAL POST OFFICE MOVES INTO NEW BUILDING TODAY – Andalusia citizens were loud in their praises of the new post office building this forenoon when Capt. James F. Brawner opened the doors and let the patrons in to make arrangements for new boxes and exchange their keys. The building itself is in every way in keeping with the progressive spirit of the city. It has every facility for the working force and every possible accommodation for the patrons. This is a combination which is gratifying.”
“The boxes are larger than those in the old post office. We can now get our mail in the box without an overflow. The lobby is always an interesting place because men are accustomed to meeting there at mail time and exchanging greetings, talking politics, and otherwise having a good time. Good news is always welcome, and it always cheers. The special mail for which we have been anxious gives one a kick that nothing else does and makes us feel an attachment for the agencies through which it comes.”
The South Three Notch Post Office building was in use for the next approximately 40 years. A headline in The Andalusia Star News October 1963 edition reads: “POST OFFICE SELECTS EAST 3-NOTCH SITE – Jack Hines, Brewton realtor, has purchased from the Law family 150-foot frontage of real estate on East Three Notch where the Post Office Department in Washington announced on Wednesday a new post office building will be erected in Andalusia. The decision came in the wake of the circulation of a petition asking that the Andalusia Post Office be erected in any location other than on East Three Notch Street near the East Three Notch Elementary School.”
“A spokesman for the petitioners said that U. S. Senators Lister Hill and John Sparkman and all members of the Alabama Congressional delegation in Washington had been informed of the objections to the location. The report from the U. S. Post Office Department in Washington to the Star News was that the decision was final and irrevocable. Informed of the Washington announcement was Postmaster Henry Lee Mullins.”
Well, some of you readers will Remember When all of this took place. I was in high school at AHS about that time (1963) singing folk songs with the “Singing Sisters,” going to football games and pep rallies, going to Big Bam shows, learning to drive a car with a stick shift, going on my first date, visiting the “Record Shop” for the latest hits, rushing after school to the City Drug Store for cherry Cokes and reading movie star magazines, learning Latin, Spanish, English and American literature, and not paying any attention to local news! The building of the next new post office on East 3-Notch is another story for another column so stay tuned!
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of 1965, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of the Covington Historical Society. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.