Getting to know Guin
From the mayor's desk
The City of Guin was established as a railroad town in 1889 on the site of Dr. Jeremiah Guin’s farm. This was the site where the Frisco Railroad met between Memphis, TN and Birmingham, AL.
Early 1800's - 1850's
In 1820 Mr. B. Harris entered a land grant with the U.S. government to homestead 680 acres of land. He later sold to Allen Haley who built a trading post and ran a stagecoach line. It was a convenient stop for cattle drovers and peddlers en route between Memphis and Birmingham. Haley sold his land to John Meador in 1870. A gristmill, sawmill, cotton gin, and blacksmith shop were added by the Caudles in a community by the same name. In 1873 Meador sold to Dr. Jerry Guin, who built a house, doctor’s office, and storehouse.
In 1886 Frisco Railroad started a rail between Memphis and Birmingham beginning at both ends and coming together at Dr. Guin’s farm. Dr. Guin gave the land to Frisco in exchange for a flagstop. A ceremony was held to drive a gold spike to connect the final tracks as the last act of completion of the railroad. The Frisco officials called the flagstop Guin. The railroad brought new businesses and more people. Some families were immigrants from Ireland.
Improvements & Enterprises | Late 1800's
A petition was brought by 32 residents for the incorporation of Guin on Dec. 5, 1889. Thirty-five names were on the poll list and Bill Wright was elected the first mayor. At this time Guin had 13 storehouses, four hotels, two cotton yards, a livery stable, schoolhouse, Masonic lodge, and about 60 dwellings with several more under construction. The population numbered about 350 and steadily increased. Churches started appearing and so did saloons until ruled illegal in 1890. The first policeman was D. Jones of Birmingham but Guin was so peaceful he went back home.
The GUIN EAGLE was the first newspaper; it was printed by Jim Clements. Jim and Largus Pearce opened a mercantile business which became one of the largest firms in northwest AL also serving northeast MS and three AL counties.
A public boarding school was built in 1888. Tuition was $1.25 for out-of-state students. It was the only school of its kind for miles.
A New Century | Early - Mid 1900's
A famous Guinite, John Allman, II was said to be instrumental in the election of many famous politicians such as Governor Emmitt O'neal and U.S. Senator William B. Bankhead. His influence persuaded the legislature to change a law so that the first public high school in the county could be built in Guin in 1912. He was also known as the “Father of Good Roads” in this area when the roads were paved in 1927. Allman was credited with the Jackson and Bankhead Highways which intersected in Guin.
On June 15, 2010 3M celebrated its 108th anniversary. 3M originated in Two Harbors, MN in 1902, and we're proud to be part of the 3M family here in Guin. The first Ford agency in Guin was opened by R.R. Wright in 1913. Wright was elected to the state legislature in 1946 but resigned in 1947 when Gov. James Folsom appointed him probate judge of Marion County. Coca-Cola Bottling Company opened in Guin in 1926. Guin has also had its share of tragedy. In 1918 the McElroy Hotel burned. In 1921 fire destroyed First Baptist Church, Freewill Baptist Church, and several houses and businesses.
In its early years, Guin had a well in the center of its first street. It served the town until a water system was installed in the 1930’s. A water filtration plant that purifies 360 gallons of water per minute was built in 1955 and is still superbly maintained. Gu-Win and Winfield also benefit from this Guin resource.
During the depression of the 1930’s, progress was slowed but Guin still added new businesses in the latter part of the decade, Hightower Box and Tank (later called AL Oak Flooring) and R.E.A.
In 1945 (Tombigbee) Rural Electric Association chose Guin as its district office with Arie Berry as manager and is now under the management of Steve Foshee. The population in 1940 was 1,175. Patriotism was running high. Many brave men from Guin went to war. In the spring of 1947, the all-volunteer Guin Fire Dept. was organized and accepted delivery of its first fire truck.
The Industrial Age | Late 1950's - 1970's
A county lake was built near Guin in the 1950’s. In 1954 Munsingwear came to Guin. The $2,000,000 3M plant was dedicated in 1955 and still boosts our economy today. In 1958 Health-Tex was also running strong. A new telephone system was installed and business was booming. Guin employed more people that any other city in the county and also supplied jobs for people outside the city, some even as far away as MS. Black’s Hardware (still in business today as Country Corner Hardware) opened its doors in 1956. In 1960 the population was 1,492. Monterey Homes was added to the industrial list. In 1974 the Coca Cola district warehouse was moved to Guin. For 60 years Guin enjoyed expanded growth and job availability. The city was operating on a sound financial basis. In the summer of 1971, the high school burned, but was rebuilt better than ever.
Recent Accomplishments | 1980's & 2000's
Education-minded Guin residents have always made the schools a high priority. Guin has the only public/school library in the state. It benefits the whole of our citizenry. Guin Elementary pioneered a reading program, which has greatly increased the reading ability of the students. Guin students continue to score above national average on standardized tests.
Through the years Guin has boasted numerous fine athletes and outstanding coaches and state championship teams. Guin teams still qualify regularly for state playoffs and have won three State Championships in recent years in Football, Track & Field, and Cheerleading. Shelton Akers Gymnasium and Guin City Hall hold many trophies that attest to the athletic accomplishments of its citizens.
In April 2003 Guin was honored by being selected as a pilot city for the Alabama Communities of Excellence Program (ACE). We were one of only eight cities chosen statewide. This honor focuses on supporting and developing communities to be more competitive in attracting industry and is a comprehensive approach toward developing smaller communities throughout Alabama. Guin has been very pro-active on updating our downtown area to attract new businesses. We have received over a million dollars in grant money for lighting, sidewalks, streets and traffic signal post.
In 2009, Guin began working toward being one of a handful of "Mural Cities." Three custom murals have already been completed by local artist, Missy Miles, with a total of four beautiful murals completed to date.
© 2015 by The University of Alabama Sales Program in association with The City of Guin.