Winter Building

Winter Buidling

…at No. 2 Dexter Avenue, sort of dominates Court Square, based on its age, its Early Italianate Style, and its role in history. It was from this building in 1861 that was sent the telegram which authorized the firing on Ft. Sumter, and thus was started the War Between the States. The structure was built in 1841 by banker John Gindrat to house the Montgomery branch of a prominent Georgia bank. His daughter married Joseph Winter and she inherited the building (aren’t we glad we don’t have to call it the Gindrat Building). From the picture below you can see why many ol’ timers thought it was “Frontier Style”. The building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1972.

Old Winter Building

The real Winter Building . . . This is how the poor building looked for most of its first 100 years, say 1875 until 1935. It looked this way when the Parker Bros, Henry and Emmett, removed to Montgomery from Eufaula in 1906, and Henry started the Parker Brothers Furniture & Hardware Store just two doors away up Court Street.

Winter Building Sign

The telegram that started it all:

Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that in the meantime he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter, you are thus authorized to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgement decides to be most practicable.

From Sec. of War L.P. Walker to Gen. P.G.T.
Beauregard in Charleston, S.C., April 11, 1861


Winter Market StSo I went back a few days ago and found Dexter Avenue festooned with red streamers proclaiming Dexter to be Market Street. Old-age exploring is a never ending occupation; just when you think you have an area covered, it up and changes. No wonder the real historians get discouraged.

But anyway, to keep all this in perspective, that old scoundrel Andrew Dexter, who is credited with founding Monkey Town, called his town “New Philadelphia”, and he named its main thoroughfare “Market Street”. I think he called it that to best my uncle John Scott (his sister was my ggg-gm), who had founded the competing East Alabama Town, and called his main street “Commerce”. So, up until 1885, Dexter Avenue was Market Street, and who am I to say they can’t change it back. I used to be in the loop on these issues; now the City does such things without even asking me. Let’s just hope they don’t change just half of it and create another of those weird intersections.

-Charles Humphries

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