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Have you ever heard of this town of Advance, Alabama? Could these be early pictures of Vance?

Have you ever heard of the town of Advance in Alabama?   The pictures below were taken in July 1936 of some rural grocery stores around Alabama and the town name of Advance, Alabama is mentioned as one location.  I have not been able to locate a town of Advance in Alabama. Share you information in the comments below if you know where it is.

General and grocery stores in rural Alabama looked very different in July 1936 as compared to today. Look how many sacks of flour were needed. It’s interesting to see all the items displayed. These photographs were taken by Walker Evans in 1936 (Library of Congress)

Interior of General Store near Moundville, Hale County, Alabama July 1936

General Store near Moundville, Alabama July 1936

 See historical books by Donna R. Causey

This may be the outside of the general store above. July 1936

This may be the outside of the general store above. July 1936

Grocery Store in Sprott, Perry County, Alabama 1936

Grocery Store in Sprott, Perry County, Alabama 1936

McCollum Grocery Store, Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama 1936

McCollum Grocery Store, Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama 1936


Abandoned store in Advance, Alabama 1936

Abandoned store in Advance, Alabama 1936

Abandoned stores in Advance, Alabama

Abandoned stores in Advance, Alabama


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  1. Heard of Vance al but not advance

    1. wonder if the name was shortened at some point?

    2. Possible I guess but there is supposed to be one in Florence

  2. It might not be a town but a community name… There are still communities that have stores bearing their names and are not considered towns

  3. It says from what I found its in FLORENCE AL

  4. On the side of the store in Advance is an advertisement for CW Lewis Furniture Co. There was a CW Lewis Furniture Company in 1917. Advance must have been near Tuscaloosa.

  5. CW Lewis Furniture Co. Was in Tuscaloosa.

    1. Yes that one is Moundville the ones in question are the last two photos in the article

    2. Alabama Pioneers Sorry, missed that!

    3. No problem we always appreciate any help!

  6. 1940 census places W. H. Hughey (the general store owner in the picture) in Severe, AL (Perry County). Mr. Hughey was 67 years old in 19940. Maybe Advance was a suburb of Severe! That’s the only W. H. Hughey in Alabama.

    1. W. M. Hughey – my error. The man in the census is W M Hughey

  7. Correction: W. M. Hughey.

    1. W.M. (Will) Hughey was my great-grandfather. He owned the store from the early 1920’s until his death in 1960. His son then ran the store until it was torn down when the road was designated Hwy. 51 and was paved in the early 60’S. Also, the photo shown above are not the inside of the store. I believe those photos may have been the inside of a store in Greensboro.

  8. Chuck Gerdau can you assist?

    1. Looks like my Dad’s store!

  9. Advance looks alot like old stores in Stewart, Alabama.

    1. I too believe that these are stores in Stewart AL. They are almost completely taken over by the woods now but the one nearest the camera is still noticeable now but it too is almost covered. We had a camp at Old Lock 8 and sometimes daddy would drive by the “ghost town” as we called it!

  10. Heard of Vance but not Advance

  11. I think Advance is now known as Vance Al just East of Tuscaloosa AL.

  12. I think Advance Al is now known as Vance Al just east of Tuscaloosa Al.

  13. There is an Avant, AL. It is off old 31 Highway near Georgiana and there was a rural

    1. I wish someone could identify the store but it was so long ago.

  14. This Advance was definitely near Tuscaloosa, as the C.W. Lewis Furniture Company advertised on the side of the building was located in the city of Tuscaloosa. Vance, however, has been called Vance since around 1880. Sounds silly, but I suspect a possible cataloging error at the LOC: CLERK: “Where’d you say these pictures were taken?” PHOTOGRAPHER: “At Vance.” CLERK: “Advance?” PHOTOGRAPHER: “Yeah, at Vance.”

  15. The name on the “Advance” general store appears to be Dunnavant. There was a dry goods company in Huntsville owned by a Dunnavant family in the 1920s; this might have been one of their retail outlets. Doesn’t give you a location, but it could be a piece of the puzzle.

    1. I am Benny Pitsinger’s daughter. Has anyone really pointed out the fact that Dunnavant, Avant, Advance, and Vance all have similar pronunciation when spoken in southern dialect. Also the fact that prominent families in the south were not only the reason for names of locations, but since their were so many all over the state they wanted to stand out in their own way. Pitsinger, Pittsinger, Pitsenger, Pitzinger just to point out one families differences. There is a good possibility that on top of Advant and Vance that maybe there was also an Advance. Or just simply that it was one of the two so named but only the locals knew it by the Advance name.

  16. The photographer is WALKER Evans, not “Walter.”

    1. Thanks for catching the typo.

  17. Saw C. W. Lewis Furniture advertised on the side of the abandoned Advance, AL Merch. Store – 1936.
    See their ad in the Univ of AL 1925 Corrolla yearbook –

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