Located in south-central Alabama and the seat of Autauga County, Prattville was named for its founder, industrialist and cotton gin manufacturer Daniel Pratt. The city has also been known as "Fountain City" for its scores of artesian wells, many of which still supply decorative fountains and drinking fountains. Prattville has a mayor-city council form of government.
Autauga County's first seat of government was established in 1819 at Washington, which was named for George Washington and was formerly the site of the Autauga Creek village of Atagi. County residents found the site inconvenient and unhealthful in warmer weather. The seat was moved in 1830 to the more centrally located Kingston. In 1868, the legislature relocated the county seat to Prattville, the company town that had been founded by Daniel Pratt and modeled after a New England mill town. The move was made to recognize the city's growth in population, wealth, and business activity. Prattville was incorporated by the legislature on February 19, 1872.
Prattville arose when Daniel Pratt located his Daniel Pratt Gin Company on the banks of the Autauga Creek at a site then known as McNeil's or Montgomery's Mill, to provide water power for his factory. The area is described as swampy in early histories. One of the early businesses was Boggs Pottery, which was founded in 1830 and continues operation under the same family. In 1838, Pratt purchased land that would become the site of Prattville, nearly 2,000 acres, for $20,000. His gin company would employ as many as 175 workers who produced as many as 1,500 gins a year that were shipped worldwide. Pratt also founded the Prattville Manufacturing Company, No. 1, which produced cotton and woolen goods, and helped found a sash, door, and blind factory. He established the Prattville Male and Female Academy that operated for more than 50 years; author Sidney Lanier briefly taught and served there as principal. Pratt also constructed the Old Plank Road connecting Prattville with the county seat at Washington.
Prattville's first courthouse, an example of Italianate architecture, was constructed in 1870. A jail was located behind the courthouse building, which today serves as a warehouse. The courthouse and jail were sold around 1905 for $5,000, which was used to fund a new courthouse and jail constructed in 1905-06.
In 1899, Pratt Gin Company merged with several other gin factories to form Continental Gin Company. In 1986, that firm was consolidated with Murray-Carver, Inc., to form Continental Eagle Corporation, which remains headquartered in Prattville and continues to produce cotton gins. On September 11, 2002, a fire ravaged the historic cotton mill, reducing much of the structure to rubble.
Prattville’s population at the time of the 2010 Census was 33,960. Of that number, 78.5 percent identified themselves as white, 16.7 percent as African American, 3.1 percent as Hispanic, 1.8 percent as two or more races, 1.4 percent as Asian, 0.4 percent as Native American, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. The city's median household income was $59,751, and per capita income was $26,611.
The workforce in present-day Prattville is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (18.2 percent)
· Public administration (14.4 percent)
· Retail trade (12.5 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (10.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (10.1 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (7.9 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (6.5 percent)
· Construction (5.9 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (4.6 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (4.2 percent)
· Wholesale trade (3.0 percent)
· Information (1.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.7 percent)
Public education in Prattville is administered by the Autauga County School District, which oversees one kindergarten, one primary school, one elementary school, one intermediate school, one junior high, and one senior high school. Collectively, the schools enroll approximately 5,200 students and employ approximately 290 teachers. Other educational options include an alternative school, a county-run technology center for high school students, and several private sectarian schools.
Prattville is located just to the west of Interstate 65, which bisects Alabama from the Tennessee border to Mobile, Mobile County. The city is divided by County Road 2, which runs east-west, and state routes 31 and 3, which run north and south and connect the city to Montgomery's western boundaries. To the southwest is Prattville-Grouby Airport, Autauga County's only public airport. The Northfolk Southern Railway runs through Prattville, while CSX operates a line just south of the city that links with Montgomery.
Events and Places of Interest
Numerous sites of historical significance are located in Prattville. The Daniel Pratt Historic District, for instance, is listed on the National Register of Historic Place and features more than 150 buildings. Many historic homes are located in a section of the city known as "Old Prattvillage." The Autauga County Heritage Center is maintained by the Autauga County Heritage Association (ACHA) and features a research library. In addition, ACHA owns one of the most famous landmarks in Prattville, Buena Vista, a Greek revival mansion built around 1822 by Capt. William Montgomery. It is available for private functions. Heritage Park is located on the banks of Autauga Creek where Pratt's original gin factory was located. Prattville hosts an annual city festival at the end of April.
The city has numerous sports facilities that provide residents space for baseball, football, soccer, softball, swimming, and
tennis. In addition, many parks and green spaces feature picnic and playground facilities and walking and biking trails. Several
community centers are available for rent and numerous artesian wells grace the cityscape. Near the city on the banks of the
Alabama River is the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Capitol Hill, which features three 18-hole public courses. Also on the river is Cooters Pond Park, which features two
boat ramps, docks, trails, picnic facilities, and fishing. Wilderness Park contains stands of naturalized bamboo lining trails
as well as the state's second-largest beech tree.
Gray, Daniel S. Autauga County: The First Hundred Years, 1818-1918. Prattville, Ala.: Autauga County Prattville Public Library, 1972.
Heritage of Autauga County. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2001.
Published September 14, 2010
Last updated June 16, 2014