Public Halls in Early Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama1
(Published in 1908)
Public halls were popular in early Greensboro, Alabama.
By public halls is meant a place where public meetings were held. The very first that existed in Greensboro was somewhere about the year 1834 and was located on the Northeast corner of the lot of Col. W. C. Tunstall, almost opposite the residence of Judge W. C. Christian on Main street. It was a one-story frame structure and was known as the “Theatre Building,” from the fact that the traveling troupes would have their shows therein.
Greensboro Hotel ca. 1936 by Walker Evans (Library of Congress)
Location of some prominent Halls
The next public hall of which there is any record was in the upper story of a frame building that was located where the Steinhart store now stands on Main street. It was known as Lyceum Hall. After this place fell into disuse, Washington Hall came into prominence, and for some years the public speakings and gatherings were held in this place. Franklin Hall was the next in order, and is still standing. (in 1908) It was the room above the stores in the block in which D. W. Taylor’s store is at present located. Besides other public uses to which it was put, the military companies used it as a drilling place.
After Amasa M. Dorman built the Dorman block on the South side of Main street and fitted up “Dorman’s Hall,” the Franklin Hall ceased to be used as a place for public gatherings. At the time it was erected, “Dorman’s Hall,” with its wooden benches, and its raised stage was accounted the finest public hall in this section.
Secession was discussed in the Dorman Hall
Many stirring scenes were enacted within the compass of its walls, —the most exciting, perhaps, being in the latter part of 1860, when a discussion of the question was had as to whether Alabama should secede from the Union or not. Hot and angry words were passed between those who differed on the subject and friendships of a lifetime were shattered.
And it was in this place that the military company, known as “The Greensboro Guards,” was organized and drilled before starting for the war.
Here the strolling minstrels would come and amuse the people with their shows, and it was here that the amateurs of the town would display their talent as actors and actresses. The old hall served its day and generation well, and stood until 1903 when it was torn away to make room for the present commodious store building.
Opera House by Jeffries Blunt main street ca. 1908 (HISTORY OF GREENSBORO, ALABAMA From Its Earliest Settlement by William Edward Wadsworth Yerby, Montgomery, Alabama)
In 1897, J. A. Blunt erected a splendid public hall above his stores on the South side of Main street. The buildings were burned in November 1902. In 1903 Mr. Blunt rebuilt the burned district and fitted up the present beautiful Opera House.