Funding: So close , yet so far

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, September 10, 2003

By By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
The little white building sits quiet now, almost as if it is waiting, holding its breath.
It has seen almost everything, would say 'Been there, done that, been that,' if it could talk.
It is the Peavy-Webb building, constructed in 1888 as a doctor's office.
Today it is located on the corner of Main and Craig streets, in Heritage Park, but originally it was located on North Main at the site of the present north main branch of the First National Bank.
According to Taylor Faircloth, a member of the Atmore Historical Society. It was built by W.M. Carney for his daughter and son-in-law, Dr. J.F. Peavey Sr., who was a doctor. He practiced in the building for 10 years, until his wife became lonesome for the Carolinas, and the family returned there.
Dr. A.P. Webb bought the building from Peavy, and it still bears their names today. Webb practiced there until 1917, when he went into the Army in WWI.
It served as a photographer's shop for a while, then was sold to Hugo Esennal, who used it for a grocery store from 1928 until 1933.
Then it was sold again and Sharpes Furniture used it to display caskets until the end of the 1930s.
During the years of World War II, housing was in short supply, and the clever widow of Dr. Webb put in kitchen and bath facilities and used it as a rent house until 1950. At that point, her son, Judge Douglas Webb, lived in the building while he built up his law practice.
Then the hard times came to the little building, and it was used as a Western Union office, the credit bureau office, Atmore Chamber of Commerce office, as storage for the First State Bank and then as the First National Bank Senior Center.
The senior center moved and the bank offered the building to the Atmore Historical Society, so that it might be preserved and restored.
"That was the day I had my first headache," Faircloth laughed.
The building was relocated to Heritage Park in 1999. Then the restoration work began.
Half the money needed came from ADECA funds, and the other half had to be raised locally. Most of that has been in-kind donations, where goods or services are offered, rather than cash donated.
The intended purpose of the building is a historical society museum, and some of the original furniture from the Webb family will be on display there when it is opened.
The project is about $3,000 from completion, Faircloth said.
Inside the 115-year-old jewel, it smells of sawdust and paint. Carpenters and plumbers are working to make it as close to the original as is possible, considering that it has to have modern plumbing and be made handicapped accessible.
There are three fireplaces, a large main room and two small rooms in the back. These were the treatment rooms while the main room served as a waiting room.
Each of the small rooms has its own fireplace, and each has its own door to the outside.
Those doors proved somewhat controversial during the renovation. One had been sealed off, and it was tossed about whether to put it back in or leave it alone.
Because the building was constructed in the days when segregation was not even a word, it was standard procedure to have separate entrances for whites and blacks.
The argument was made that the door should remain sealed, but in the end, historical accuracy won out over political correctness.
The door was restored, although the money for steps has yet to be raised.
From that door, one may see all the way from the back of the building to the front.
It is an illustration of how far Atmore has come.

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