The Vagabond – History of the Old Sears building property

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The Sears Department Store opened in early 1947 in a $400,000 building in downtown Gadsden.

Thousands of people passed through its doors on opening day.

The department store was located on the site of the W.P. Lay and Walter S. Standifer homes that were erected in the late 1880s. The homes of John S. Paden, J.M. Elliot and T.S. Kyle were located two blocks away.

The sites of the former Lay and Standifer homes were part of a 40-acre tract deeded to W.E. Lucy, Sr., on April 10, 1848, by patent from the U.S. government. Lucy was the father of W.E. Lucy, Jr., who operated the first steam laundry in Gadsden. Part of the site was deeded by Mr. Lucy to R.B. Kyle in 1869. In 1878, Kyle deeded the part to W.P. Hollingsworth, a wealthy local merchant.

On January 16, 1866, A.W. Watson had deeded the other part of the site to Samuel Orr, who sold it to Herman Herzberg on May 15, 1866. Major Herzberg sold it to James M. Collier on May 20, 1868, and Collier sold to Hollingsworth on August 6, 1877.

Before Hollingsworth died on April 25, 1879, he divided his purchase into two lots and deeded them to his daughters, Mrs. Laura J. Lay and Mrs. Katie Standifer. They were sisters of Mrs. John S. Paden.

It would seem that some of the most prominent men of the early days of Gadsden figured in the ownership of this property.

Modest homes were originally built on the sites, later replaced by the show places. The Paden home eventually gave way for an A&P supermarket.

Contact The Vagabond at dkcrown@bellsouth.net.

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