Historic downtown buildings revisited

Published 11:51 am Wednesday, September 13, 2006

By By LYDIA GRIMES – Forgotten Trails
Last week I finished my diary stories about the big hurricane in 1906. I hate to break a theme when it is going so well. At least we missed a hurricane here in 2006. Maybe we will be as lucky the next time around. I pick up with the building on the corner of Mildred Street and St. Joseph Avenue.
100 St. Joseph Avenue
Built in 1883 by the Foshee Mercantile Company, it is the oldest brick building in Escambia County. The bricks were brought to Brewton from Montgomery. The mercantile business operated until 1909 when Robbins and McGowin bought them out. They used this building and the three-story building that they built next door. For many years the two-story building was a hardware store that sold a little bit of everything.
102 St. Joseph Avenue
The three-story building was the department store side of the building. Robbins and McGowin did such a good business that buyers made regular trips to New York to obtain items used in the store. For ten years, from 1919 to 1929, they published two catalogs a year and sent 10,000 copies to south Alabama, west Florida, and east Mississippi. It is reportedly the oldest store in Brewton as it was incorporated in 1892.
108 St. Joseph Avenue
This building was erected in early 1912 by the Farmers and Merchants Bank. The upper story was added in 1939 when the large plate when the large plate glass windows were added.
This bank not only remained open during the depression, it continued to pay dividends. Farmers and Merchants consolidated with Citizen's Bank in 1951 and moved into a building outside of the historic district. It later would change to First National Bank and a few years ago to BankTrust.
I just have a few more buildings to tell you about. Join me next week for more on the buildings on St. Joseph. I will give you a hint about a future column.
The part of St. Joseph Avenue that runs on the east side of the railroad track was once called St. Irenette. Did you know that?