Pell City is one of two county seats of St. Clair County, the other being Ashville; it is located in the north central part of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government with elected terms of four years.
Pell City was founded in 1890 and incorporated in 1891; it was originally developed by the Pell City Iron and Land Company and named for New Yorker George H. Pell, president of the East and West Alabama Railroad who later served time in prison for bank fraud in New York. The town nearly failed as a result of the economic panics of 1893-1894, and the Pell City Iron and Land Company went bankrupt. Sumter Cogswell, who had arranged the original sale of land to the Pell City Iron and Land Company, purchased the principal acreage on which the town stands in 1901 for $3,000. He and his family moved into the town, which was incorporated in 1902.
That same year, Cogswell gave 150 acres of land to the Pell City Manufacturing Company (which was bought out by Avondale Mills in 1919), and the city was designated the second county seat . The move was deemed necessary because of the difficulties faced by residents in the northern part of the county in traveling over the mountains to Ashville. Pell City's status as county seat was rescinded in 1905, when the Alabama Supreme Court upheld an act of the legislature prohibiting the existence of two county seats. It was reestablished as county seat in 1907 by an amendment to the state constitution.
The original courthouse building was replaced in March 1956; the main speaker at the dedication of the new structure was Governor James E. Folsom Sr. Also in 1956, the nearby towns of Eden, Oak Ridge, and Avondale Mills Village merged with Pell City.
With the 2001 opening of the Honda Plant in nearby Lincoln, Pell City has undergone a period of growth. Long-term employer Avondale Mills ceased operations in the Pell City in 2006, however.
On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than 250 people were killed in Alabama, including one person in Pell City.
Pell City’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 12,695. Of that number, 80.8 percent identified themselves as white,
15.6 percent as African American, 2.3 percent as Hispanic, 1.4 percent as two or more races, 0.8 percent as Asian, 0.3 percent
as Native American, and 0.1 percent Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $43,260,
and per capita income was $26,353.
The workforce in present-day Pell City is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (19.6 percent)
· Retail trade (14.9 percent)
· Manufacturing (12.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (9.5 percent)
· Construction (8.4 percent)
· Public administration (6.9 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (6.8 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (5.8 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.7 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (3.9 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.8 percent)
· Information (2.2 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.6 percent)
Schools in Pell City are part of the Pell City School District; the city has approximately 4,179 students and 255 teachers in four public schools (elementary, junior high, high). It also has three private schools serving K-12 with approximately 712 students and 40 teachers. The city also hosts a campus of Jefferson State community College.
Pell City is intersected by U.S. Highways 231 (north-south) and 78 (east-west). It is located about two miles from Interstate Highway 20 which connects Atlanta and Birmingham. It also is served by the Pell City Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
Pell City has several recreational venues, including the Civic Center, with basketball and tennis courts, and Lakeside Park. The city has 275 miles of shoreline on Logan Martin Lake, which offers camping, fishing, skiing, swimming, sailing, and many other water activities. The area also has two golf courses, Pine Harbor and the Pell City Golf Course.
Crow, Mattie Lou Teague. History of St. Clair County (Alabama). Huntsville, Ala.: Strode Publishers, 1973.
The Heritage of St. Clair County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.
James P. Kaetz
Published February 8, 2010
Last updated February 28, 2013