The Florence Water Works was without a doubt the finest plant of its kind in Alabama, if not the whole South during its time. It was built during the Industrial Boom by a stock company at a cost of $200,000. The company consisted of Colonel W.A. Jeter as president, A.E. Boarman as treasurer, and T.A. Howell as superintendent. At the time, there were 17 miles of piping and 103 fire-plugs throughout the city of Florence. Made using the best stone masonry, the water tower was 70 feet tall had a wrought-iron tank with the capacity to hold 300,000 gallons of water. The plant could have easily supplied a city of 50,000 people even though Florence’s current population was only near 7,000 people. A key selling point to this water tower was that the water did not from the Tennessee River, which was so often made muddy by heavy rains. The water was drawn from the clear, pure, beautiful stream, Cypress Creek. Physicians of the time pronounced the water to be “as good as Nature’s laboratory could furnish for thirsty man”. Running through a country, at the time, that was not densely populated, the path of Cypress Creek acted as a natural filtration system that aerated the water from any possible impurities. Many of Florence’s citizens during the late 1890s had abandoned perfectly good cisterns and wells in favor of using the water tower’s hydrant water because it was healthier.
In his administration, Superintendent T.A. Howell was careful to keep the water mains clear and clean and was always very helpful during fires in the city. It didn’t matter what time of the night a fire broke out, he could soon be found at his post of duty ready to supply any amount of water that the fire department needed. The water tower was replaced by the adjoining standpipe in 1935.
Built in 1926 in the Spanish Revival architectural style, this is the first structure in Florence erected with a steel skeleton supporting the floors, walls, and roof. The framework is strong enough to support two more stories than were actually built. This building was individually listed in The National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
George Washington Foster, planter, built this Greek Revival mansion. An act of the legislature was required to close Court Street. In fall of 1864 it was headquarters of Nathan B. Forrest, General, CSA. Foster’s daughter, Sarah Independence McDonald and her family, lived here until 1900 when it became the home of Governor Emmet O’Neal. In 1922 it was acquired by Thomas M. Rogers, Sr., and in 1948 by the University of North Alabama. Listed: Historic American Buildings Survey, National Register of Historic Places
Built by John Simpson in 1843, on the site of his earlier home, this residence was occupied at various times by both armies during the Civil War. Purchased in 1867 by George W. Foster, builder of Courtview, for his daughter, Virginia, and her husband, James B. Irvine. Their daughter, Virginia, left the home to her great-niece, Harriet Rogers King, in 1939. Mrs. King and her husband, Madding, restored Irvine Place in 1948. Acquired in 1990 by David Brubaker and donated to the University of North Alabama in memory of his wife, Coby Stockard Brubaker. Listed: National Register of Historic Places
For the last half of the 19th Century, the Florence Synodical Female College was one of the leading seminaries in the South. Situated in a town whose people are noted for culture, refinement and hospitality it was destined for success.
Founded in 1855, by the Presbyterian Synod of Nashville, the college sent out hundreds of cultivated Christian women to “refine and adorn the land” and regarded woman not as a mere ornament to society, but as an equal factor with man in the life and progress of the age.
The campus (which sat on the site of the current Florence Post Office) consisted of two substantial brick buildings (a dormitory and an academic building) that took up the entire city block. The campus offered easy access to downtown stores and churches.
Florence Synodical Female College closed its doors in 1893.