HistoryThe City of Girard - 1890
Sometime prior to 1820, Girard was established as a trading post in the Creek Indian Territory of Alabama on the West bank of the Chattahoochee River opposite a white settlement which later named Columbus, Georgia. The North boundary of Girard being the North boundary of Russell County, is presently known as Fifteenth Street North. The Capital of the Creek Nation at this time was situated about eight miles South of Girard in Alabama and was called Coweta.
Prior to this area being established as a white community, a town was laid out by a member of a New York Engineering Firm, Edward Lloyd Thomas, and was designated Marshall’s Reserve. This land area was sold to a Columbus Real Estate interest for $35,000.00, by a half-breed Indian named Ben Marshall. It was later sold for a total of $100,000.00.
The City was named for a young Philadelphia Philanthropist and slave dealer, Stephen Girard, who early acquired much of the land in this area. When Russell County was formed December 18, 1832, Girard became the County Seat, the first session of Court convening there October 14, 1833. With the population at 3,840 the City of Girard was officially incorporated by an Act of the Alabama Legislature H.B. –333 on December 8, 1890. A Mr. West served as its first Mayor.
In 1846, a corporation, headed by Samuel G. Ingersoll and associates was granted a charter to build a railroad from Ingersoll’s Hill in the town of Girard in the direction of Crawford. This railroad later became the Central of Georgia.
Russell County Seat moved from Girard to Crockettsville, presently Crawford, in 1842. The Russell County Seat moved again from Crawford to Seale, Alabama in 1868.
Population growth of the City of Girard by Federal
1900 – 3,840 1910 – 4,214 1920 – 4,942
City of Phenix - 1883
The City of Phenix city was first incorporated as the Town of Brownville by an Act of the Alabama Legislature H.B. #585 on February 23, 1883. The Town of Brownville was situated north of the Town of Girard in Lee County, with its Southern boundary being the Northern boundary of Girard which is presently known as Fifteenth Street North. The County Seat of Lee was Opelika.
T.S. Young was elected Brownville’s first Mayor and presided at the first meeting of the Board of Alderman held March 27, 1883 in the Masonic Building. This small residential community was established prior to the Civil War and by 1880 had a population of 2,224. Although the town was officially named Brownville, the Post Office serving it was called, “Lively,” and the Central of Georgia Railroad designated its depot, “Knight’s Station.” On February 19, 1889 the Town of Brownville by an Act of the Alabama Legislature H.B. #679 was officially changed to Phenix City, named for the Phenix Mills in Columbus.
Population growth of the City of Phenix City prior to the
annexation of the City of Girard by Federal Census:
1890 – 3,700 1900 – 4,163 1910 – 4,555 1920 – 5,432
Communities Consolidated - 1923
The Cities of Girard and Phenix City were consolidated August 9, 1923, with a total population of 10,374. Soon afterward an effort was made to change the city’s name to Brandon in honor of Governor William W. Brandon who signed the consolidation bill. However, after technical difficulties, the original name was retained.
The City of Phenix City has been governed at various times by a Board of Aldermen and a five-man and a three-man Board of Commissioners. Dr. Ashby Floyd was appointed Mayor with Homer D. Cobb, Sr., Isaac I. Moses, Clyde M. Knowles, Sr. and Claude B. Gullatt, Sr., serving as commissioners immediately after the consolidation. The five-man Board of Commissioners was decreed unconstitutional, and a Board of Aldermen governed the city from December 1923 until September 1928.
The City’s government, headed by a three-man Board of Commissioners from 1928 until 1947, changed to a five-man Board for the period from 1947 until 1953, when it reverted to a three-man Board. In October 1977, the present Council – City Manager form of government was adopted.
The Original City Hall of Phenix City
The original City Hall of Phenix City was built in three stages between the early 1900’s and mid 1940’s.The old building was demolished in 1963 to make room for construction of the city’s new Municipal Building.
The first section of the building was constructed in 1909 or 1910 and for the next 12 or 13 years served as the municipal building for the old City Girard. In 1923, following the consolidation of Phenix City and Girard into a single city, the building became the municipal headquarters for the consolidated area.
The first expansion of the old building was completed in 1927 with the addition of the city jail costing approximately $19,000. The unit was built on the south side of the first section and at the time of demolition was serving as a combination police headquarters and jail.
In 1932, Russell County traded the Marvyn Community in the northwest section of the county to Lee County for a portion of Phenix City in Lee. Following the trade, a northern division of the Russell Courthouse was established in Phenix City, and county officials set up office on the first floor of the old City Hall. The city clerk was moved to the second floor of the building.
In 1938, the present Russell County Courthouse was built, and all county offices, both for the southern and northern districts, were moved to the new building. The final addition of the city hall building was constructed on the north side of the municipal building in 1944 and in the years that followed it housed the commission chamber and the offices of the city clerk.