Oh, how intersting the Robbins, McGowin store is
Published 10:16 am Wednesday, December 12, 2018
By Lydia Grimes
I ran across this article that was written about one of Brewton’s landmark buildings in 1956.
By the way, if you are interested in history, you should check out The Alabama Room at Alabama Coastal Community College or even stop by The Brewton Standard and take a look at what can be found in our bound volumes here at the office. I promise you it is interesting.
Apparently when this was written, one of the icons of downtown Brewton was undergoing some face-lifts.
For those of you who don’t know, the old Robbins and McGowin Company’s store is the building downtown that faces St. Joseph Avenue (the three and two story buildings).
When I first came to Brewton more than 50 years ago, Robbins and McGowin was still in business. The department store section was the three-story and the two-story section was the hardware store.
This two-story building was the first brick building to be built anywhere in this section of the country. The bricks used to build it were shipped from Montgomery. It is said that when word got out about the new building that people came from near and far just to get a look at it.
This part of the store was actually built by the firm of Harold Brothers and Scott, which operated a saw mill about five miles east of the Conecuh River. It may be that the mill was located off Ashton Street in East Brewton. Harold Brothers had a mill over there at one time.
Anyway, the building was erected as a commissary for the employees of the mill. A line of general merchandise was carried and sold to the public.
While much of its production was rafted down the river to Pensacola, the company also built and operated a railroad into Brewton to give it access to the L&N. The tracks crossed Forrest Avenue in East Brewton within a few feet of where the East Brewton United Methodist Church is now located. Fifty years ago, one could still see the old right of way of the track. After the mill suspended operations, the tracks remained for several years until WW II when they were taken up and sold for much needed scrape metal.
Robbins and McGowin was organized by J.I. Robbins and J.G. McGowin. A short time later, Alex McGowin Jr. and J.E. Finlay, who had individual stores there, combined their businesses with the other firm and the company became known as Robbins and McGowin Company, Inc. Mr. Robbins built his residence on Belleville Avenue, but he left for Florida to engage in the lumber business.
I will continue with this next time. And, by the way, I hope you all had a great holiday season.