Goodbye old, hello new
By Clif Knight
Hartselle is on the cusp of making a big change when it vacates the old municipal building on North Sparkman Street and moves into the newly-renovated former Citizens and Wells Fargo bank building on East Chestnut Street.
Old-timers will remember City Hall functioned on the second floor of the building formerly occupied by Peck Funeral Home and Furniture Co. on Main Street before the move was made to the building on North Sparkman Street in 1957.
At that time, the public works, police and fire departments occupied the same space. They answered calls to a telephone attached to the front wall of the first-floor level building. In the event that no one representing those departments was present, it was understood that anyone passing by was expected to answer the phone and pass on the message to the appropriate department.
The comings and goings of municipal functions in the present municipal building were similar to the turnover that occurs in a game of musical chairs.
In the early years, the library was located in what later became the auditorium, where city council meetings, police court and other public meetings are held. Then, it moved across Chestnut Street into the vacated Citizens Bank Building. The police department occupied a part of the first-floor level of the building before moving into its own building at the rear of the municipal building. The fire department claimed space in the basement level with fire engines facing Chestnut Street before expanding with separate stations on east and west main street.
The police chief maintained a small office on the east side of the building. Behind his desk was the evidence room, where confiscated weapons and alcoholic beverages were kept under lock and key.
Periodically, the alcohol would outgrow available space, and the chief would call on his officers to conduct a “booze disposal” and invite the press as overseers. The booze would stir up a stink and fill a street gutter from Chestnut and Sparkman to a drainage ditch on the west side of Railroad Street.
Office space was provided for the electric, water and gas departments before a separate Hartselle Utilities was founded and located in the old post office building and later moved into a new building on North Sparkman Street.