“And your young men shall see visions…” Part VII

October 31, 2014 chris
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As in the past few weeks, The Vagabond has been discussing a pamphlet written by the Gadsden Women’s Club called A little book about Gadsden, which tells about the early periods of the Gadsden area. It continues….

The Public Library

“The Thursday Study Club realized many years ago, with Sir Francis Bacon, that “Reading maketh the full man.” Little did the club dream, however, when it conceived the idea of a circulating library for our small town, that from its efforts would grow one of the most far reaching influences in the cultural life of Gadsden today.

“In 1904, Walter E. Striplin, Superintendent of Public Schools, received a gift of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie, and on a lot bought by public subscription, the present building was erected and formally opened on the evening of Dec. 20, 1906.

“The zeal and efficiency of the librarian have made this institution one of the city’s unique assets. She has been heard to say, ‘f I had a hundred lives to live, I should want to be a librarian in every one.’ In 1915, the Anna Mortimer Fosdick collection of over one thousand volumes, many of which are rare and valuable, was presented to the library.

“Other memorial shelves testify to the affectionate interest of Gadsden’s citizens. The library boasts of a collection of 21,000 volumes and an annual circulation of 125,000 books.

“A branch library was recently opened in Alabama City. This was made possible by the aid of the WPA and the City Commission. The mural decorations, which were done by a local artist, illustrate the Arthurian Legends. Both institutions are entirely supported by the City of Gadsden.”

Hospitals

“The Guice and Faucett Hospital, known as the Gadsden Infirmary (now extinct), was the earliest hospital to function in Gadsden. It was established in the spring of 1906 in the old Denson home on the site now occupied by the Pollock Chevrolet Company. 

“The Forrest General Hospital is the outgrowth of the Ralls Sanitarian, founded in September, 1906. This was the first hospital built in Northeast Alabama, and for many years it was the only large hospital in this section. It is located on Sixth Avenue and Twelfth Street. It was enlarged in 1928 and renamed the Forrest General Hospital. With an active staff of forty doctors and the finest of equipment, this hospital ranks high among institutions of its kind.

“The Holy Name of Jesus Hospital was first so called in 1925. The original small building erected on Chestnut Street in 1920 was called the Gadsden General Hospital. In 1931, a splendid building was reared on Third Street overlooking Moragne Park. From a humble beginning with one or two visiting doctors, the staff has grown to thirty-nine. This well equipped hospital takes its place with the finest in the country.

“The Morgan and McDiarmid Hospital, called the Walnut Street Infirmary, was in operation between the years 1921-1926.

“The Etowah County Tuberculosis Sanatorium, organized in 1927, was financed by private subscription until July, 1931, when it became a county project. Recently this sanitarium was remodeled and has the best of modern equipment. It is subsidized by the state. It operates on a surgical basis only.”

Newspapers

“In 1867, Gadsden established a definite reading contact with the outside world when the first newspaper, The Gadsden Times, was published. This weekly newspaper, owned and edited by Grant and Cox, appeared every Wednesday’ morning. In 1869, it was sold to W.M. Meeks. The Gadsden Times, in 1887, bought The Gadsden News, which was established a few years previously by W.P. Johnson, and the name was changed to The Gadsden Times-News. 

“In 1925, the Times-News bought The Gadsden Evening Journal, which had been inaugurated some years earlier as Gadsden’s first daily, and the paper again took its original name. In 1927, the sons of W.M. Meeks sold the paper to its present owners, who also bought The Gadsden Evening Star.

“The Etowah Observer was published first in August, 1926 in Alabama City at the corner of Fifth Street and Sansom Avenue. In 1931, it was moved to its present home at 405 Kyle Avenue. From a small weekly sheet, it has grown steadily with an increasing circulation throughout the county. In 1933, on its seventh anniversary, the Observer published a historical edition that has been a source of valuable material for reference.”

Theatres and Radio

“The first theatre in Gadsden, known as the Academy, was built in the early 1870’s on the site of the present Kress Store. Here were presented shows and local talent productions. Shortly after 1883, Col. R.B. Kyle erected Kyle Opera House on the present site of Woolworth’s. Many great stage and opera personalities have trod the boards of this old opera house.

“In the early nineties a colored man, Bill Webster, built and operated a theatre for colored people on South Fourth Street.

“The present Gadsden Theatre, formerly known as the Hayden-Pake Theatre, was erected in 1905-06. Here again, many fine New York productions were staged. Later it was remodeled and the name changed.

“Gadsden rightly boasts of one of the finest and most modern picture houses in the South in the Princess Theatre (formerly the Imperial) on the corner of Broad and Fifth Streets.Other theatres are the Capitol on Broad Street, the Ritz in Alabama City and the Gem on North Sixth Street.

“The Gadsden Broadcasting Station WJBY has as its slogan, “The Good-Will Station.” It operates full-time with a well-balanced daily schedule of news, music and information of artistic and commercial value to over 45,000 radio homes in the station’s immediate coverage zone. It has a trained and experienced staff and the newest modern equipment. It brings to its audience some of the world’s greatest artists, as well as the finest of local talent, and keeps a fingertip on the news of the moment from universal sources.”

Civic Organizations

“The City Beautiful Club (now extinct) was organized Oct. 5, 1907, at a meeting called by the president of the Commercial Club at the suggestion of Walter E. Striplin, then Superintendent of City Schools. This club and the Commercial Club were the forerunners of all civic organizations since formed in Gadsden. The City Beautiful Club laid out and planted the Court House Park and bought the fountain that beautifies it. It was instrumental in organizing the Curb Market, procured the restroom at the Court House for rural women and founded the Canning Club Girls, an organization that has since spread to other parts of the country.

“The Chamber of Commerce, which was organized in August 1912, is the outgrowth of the Commercial Club. This organization has been one of the chief forces in the building of a greater Gadsden.

“The Rotary Club, whose motto is, “He profits most who serves best,” was organized June 1, 1917. Two of this club’s principal projects are loans to college students and aid to crippled children.

“The Kiwanis Club began its activities in June, 1919. Its motto is, “We Build.” This club, as a part of its wide program, gives assistance to trade school students and crippled children and sponsors 4-H clubs.

“The Business and Professional Women’s Club began March 16, 1920. In its early years it helped to establish and support the Etowah County Tuberculosis Hospital. The club seeks to promote the interests of women in the professional, civic and industrial world. It also is interested in scholarship funds and study groups of many kinds. At present it helps to maintain the Day Nursery on First Avenue, and is contributing to a fund for the purpose of buying a cutting machine for the State School for the Blind at Talladega.

“The Civitan Club believes that the fulfilling of its motto, “Building for good citizenship,” will help to solve the problem of crime. It also assists in the program for the prevention of the spread of tuberculosis and sponsors the National Citizenship Contests in high schools. This club was begun July 8, 1921.

“On September 19, 1923, a woman whose service to her community has been untiring, organized the Axis Club. The name was later changed to the Women’s Club. From a nucleus of thirty women it has grown the present powerful organization of 500 members. Its interests embrace every phase of community life.

“The Lions Club, organized September 11, 1930, does splendid work for the blind and those with poor eyesight. It also furnishes schoolbooks to needy children. Its motto is “Liberty, Intelligence, our Nation’s Safety.”

“The Pilot Club was organized November 15, 1935. The object of the club is to promote high ethical standards among business and professional women. It also cooperates with other clubs in working for civic and social betterment.

“The Junior Chamber of Commerce was organized in December, 1937. It dedicates its time and energy to civic development.”