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The Garlington Block: Tracing Its Origins


Garlington Block: at the corner of Tennessee and Seminary streets in Florence, AL

In the late 19th century, the city of Florence in Alabama was rapidly growing, and with it came a need for new commercial buildings. In July 1889, local businessmen J.M. Garlington and W.P. Campbell announced their plans to erect a two-story brick block at the corner of Tennessee and Seminary streets. This marked the beginning of what would become known as the Garlington Block.

tennessee-seminary-garlingtonBy September of the same year, plans for the building were well underway, with Dr. G.W. Baines and J.E. Austin already renting a corner room in the new building for their wholesale and retail drug store. The building permit was issued in August for three two-story brick buildings on Tennessee Street, with Garlington and Campbell's block being one of them.

As construction progressed, the Garlington Block began to take shape, and it was clear that it would be one of the most striking buildings in the city. By November, the veneering on the north and east walls had reached the second story, and the building was on track to be completed soon.

On Christmas Day of 1889, it was announced that Baines and Austin would open their drug store in the Garlington Building as soon as it was ready for occupation. The drug store, which was set to become a mainstay of the block for years to come, boasted an impressive interior made entirely of carved antique oak, and was undoubtedly one of the finest finished sales rooms in North Alabama.

By January 1890, the new drug store was ready to open its doors, and a cement sidewalk was put down in front of the Garlington-Campbell building on Tennessee Street. The new drug firm of Baines, Austin, & Co. had officially become a part of the Garlington Block, and the building was now firmly established as a center of commerce in Florence.

Today, the Garlington Block remains standing housing great things like a record store, lawyers, doctors, and upstairs loft apartments. Next time you're driving down Tennessee Street, take a moment to appreciate the history of this corner known as Garlington Block.