The first county seat was established on the Conecuh River sometime around 1824 and was named Montezuma for the Aztec king. The site, however, was surrounded by swampland that harbored disease-carrying mosquitoes and was prone to frequent flooding of the Conecuh River, causing many original residents to leave. A fire destroyed the first log-cabin courthouse in 1839, and a severe flood in 1841 prompted the relocation of the county seat. Montezuma subsequently disappeared as a town.
The new county seat, or "New Site" as the location was known, was established by legislative act on January 16, 1844. It was built on a high point of land just east of Montezuma and the Conecuh River. The town hosted a post office named Andalusia, possibly after a Spanish soldier who, according to legend, had relinquished his horse to a Creek chief in the area or as a reference to Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto who passed through present-day Alabama in 1540. Andalusia had become the official name of the town by 1846, and a courthouse was completed there around 1847. The courthouse burned in 1865, as did its replacements in 1878 and 1895, resulting in the destruction of valuable county records. A brick courthouse was then constructed in 1897 and was in use until 1916, when it was replaced by the current stone and marble structure.
The arrival of the Central of Georgia Railroad in 1899 followed by the Louisville and Nashville line prompted growth in the town, with the population doubling from 250 to approximately 500 persons within a year or so. The town continued to thrive as a center of trade in the region because of the production of timber and other wood products and remains the largest city in the county.
In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that Andalusia's population was 9,015. Of that total, 70.5 percent of respondents identified themselves as white, 25.9 percent as African American, 1.9 percent as Hispanic, 1.7 as two or more races, 1.0 percent as Asian, and 0.4 percent as American Indian or Alaska Native. Median household income was $28,049, and per capita income was $19,544.
The workforce in present-day Andalusia is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (15.8 percent)
· Retail trade (13.1 percent)
· Manufacturing (11.3 percent)
· Construction (10.4 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (10.4 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (10.3 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (8.6 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (5.0 percent)
· Public administration (5.0 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (4.2 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.5 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.1 percent)
· Information (1.3 percent)
Public education in Andalusia is administered by the Andalusia City School District and consists of an elementary school, middle school, and high school. Collectively, the schools enroll approximately 1,750 students and employ 105 teachers. In addition, the city hosts the main campus of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, which also has a campus in nearby Opp.
The city is accessed by U.S. Route 29 and U.S. Route 84, which travel north-south and east-west, respectively, and State Routes 12, 15, 55, and 100. The South Alabama Regional Airport, formerly known as the Andalusia-Opp Airport, lies east of Andalusia on U.S. 84 and provides general aviation services. The Three Notch Railroad and the Alabama and Florida Railway operate lines through Andalusia.
Events and Places of Interest
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places are the Andalusia Commercial Historic District, the Avant House, the Bank of Andalusia, the Central of Georgia Depot, the Covington County Courthouse and Jail, the First National Bank Building, and the J. W. Shreve Addition Historic District. Buildings listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage include the W. O. Carter Log House (ca. 1830s), the Givens House (ca. 1900), the Macon General Store Museum, and the Monch Riley Home (ca. 1890).
The Three Notch Museum exhibits an historic post office and log cabin and objects and other items related to Andalusia and
Covington County. Recreational facilities in the town include Robert Horry Park, named for the Andalusia native and National Basketball Association star; the Andalusia Sports Complex, which features
various ball fields; the child-themed Dream Park; and the Coleman Center, which has a gymnasium and swimming pool. The Andalusia
Country Club features an 18-hole golf course, and there is a golf course on the campus of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.
Heritage of Covington County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2003.
Ward, Wyley D. Early History of Covington County, Alabama, 1821-1871. Huntsville, Ala.: Ward, 1976.
Published October 6, 2010
Last updated July 12, 2012