Florala History

Stories and Information of Florala, Alabama

Downtown Florala

J.E. Hughes, known as the “Daddy of Florala”, believed that the town should be built with materials sturdier than wood. He owned a cement block factory and promoted cement block construction. For that reason a number of buildings downtown were made of cement bricks and they still stand today.


The banner sign by the Opera House reads “The Sins of the Father”

James H. Busbee, Florala policeman, ca 1910-16. JH Busbee lived at Children’s Home, FL, near Laurel Hill.  (from Cheri Clark)

The Geronimo Hotel was on the north side of 5th Ave (card postmarked 1912). The building no longer exists. Geronimo was captured 1886 and held for a time at Ft. Pickens in Pensacola in 1887, and then near Mobile, AL. His “stay” in Pensacola may have inspired the name of the Geronimo Hotel in Florala.

Back of the Geronimo Hotel card (above)

The Geronimo Hotel is seen on the right  hand side of this photo

The Opera House is the largest building in this picture above on the left.

This soda fountain was likely destroyed when the Opera House burned down.

 Flatiron building on right above


Flatiron Building 2012



North side of 5 Ave (above). Luther Ray owned the Florala Hardware Co.

Downtown Florala (2011) looking west.  The building with the red awning is where the Opera House stood.


  • By amie, June 9, 2012 @ 12:27 am

    My aunt found an old bottle that reads “The Bottling & mfg. Co. Florala, Ala.” does any one hae any info about a bottling company in florala any dates?

  • By Max Baker, June 10, 2012 @ 10:51 am

    from a Florala resident – “I have an old Dr. Pepper bottle with ‘Florala, ALA’ on the bottom. At one time, the bottling company was in the buildings between the Florala News and the L&N Depot”.

  • By Missy Parks, August 10, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

    My great-grandmothers family ran the Geronimo Hotel and I have been trying to find info on if some of the family is still in the area. Her parents names were James and Rhoda Byrd, my great-grandmother was Annie Mae Byrd (she married Charles Morris), her brothers and sisters were Daisy, Edith, Cleaveland and a couple others.

  • By Max Baker, August 10, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    Thanks for writing. I have wondered why someone in Florala would name their hotel the “Geronimo Hotel”. Geronimo died in 1906, so he was likely alive when the hotel was named. Even though he was in custody of the US gov later in his life, he became a celebrity (see below) and was held in Pensacola and near Mobile for a while. That may have been a reason. Can you shed any light on that and do you have any other information on the hotel? Hopefully someone knows of your ancestors.

    – Geronimo and other Apaches, including the Apache scouts who had helped the army track him down, were sent as prisoners to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas. The Army held them there for about six weeks before they were sent to Fort Pickens, in Pensacola, Florida, and his family was sent to Fort Marion.[24] They were reunited in May 1887, when they were transferred to Mount Vernon Barracks near Mobile, Alabama for seven years. In 1894, they were moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In his old age, Geronimo became a celebrity. He appeared at fairs, including the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, where he reportedly rode a ferris wheel and sold souvenirs and photographs of himself. However, he was not allowed to return to the land of his birth. He rode in President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade

  • By Sheila Shepherd Whanger, October 29, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

    How incredible – a picture of our Granfather’s store!!!!!!

  • By Joe Redmon, April 29, 2013 @ 5:43 pm

    Some of these pictures bring back a lot of memories for me. My Dad worked for Capt. Jones { DR Mathewess benefactor } at his service station and later owned the business [Foster Oil Co.] on the Crestview highway close to the Ice plant, owned by the Gamble family. Booth Drug store along with Harper drugs were very popular.Both had “soda fountains”. The Booths had 2 children Sally and Joe Joe. Sally married President Eisenhowers’ nephew when I was about 10 YO. Florala was on the map. Around 1950. Joe just passed away at 83 YO in Montgomery,AL. What an awesome place to grow up!!! Joe Redmon

  • By Windell Parker, August 1, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    Born and raised in Paxton, Fla, I started out with a one barrel sling shot. Bare footed in my “over-hauls” I would go over to town to the lake to swim—those were the days.
    I remember Booth’s Drug Store. My sister went to work for Mr. Booth right after high school. She worked behind the soda fountain and later he taught her to fill prescriptions.
    I remember Mr.Redman at that gas station near the ice plant.
    The best of the year was the Masonic celebration on the
    24th of June and the carnival.
    A Miss Ray (I think Martha )somewhere by the lake. She had two German Shepard dogs. She pastured her milk cow in a little pasture beside “Manning Landing”. I don’t know if she is related to your Ray.
    Thank you for sharing your site. It brings back lots of momeries.

  • By Max Baker, August 1, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

    Thanks for writing. Most likely you remember my Great Aunt Jessie Ray. I know she kept some cows on the west side of the lake. She probably kept them around Mannings Landing too. She always had a dog (or two) named Rex.

  • By Windell Parker, August 2, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

    I feel I need to apologize to you. This morning I was thinking about what a great site you have. And that lady with the dog, her name wasn.t Martha it is Miss Jessie Ray. At some point she sold my Dad a gold pocket watch in a “hunting Case”. It has the initial “R”.
    You mention the name of the dog, and yes it was Rex. Oh, so many years ago.

  • By Jerry, May 30, 2016 @ 1:32 am

    I see a couple of folks mention bottles. Does anyone have any bottles they would like to sell?

  • By Kelby Russell, January 31, 2017 @ 8:21 am

    If anyone has any info on the oldest landfill in Florala I am trying to locate it for relic hunting & bottle digging. http://www.facebook.com/wiregrassmetaldetecting

  • By Max Baker, January 31, 2017 @ 9:46 am

    I’m not sure it is the oldest, but an old landfill was located just east of the Baptist Church in the low lands circled by Central Y street – north of 5th Avenue.

  • By Jenna Eckland, January 13, 2018 @ 10:35 pm

    I am a Cawthon descendant trying to find the exact location of T. Hope Cawthon’s photography studio. I found a photo of it where it appeared to be in the Opera House, but not sure this is the same Cawthon.

  • By Max Baker, January 14, 2018 @ 10:17 am

    A picture on the Downtown Florala page has a sign on the opera house that says “Cawthon Photo Studios”. I doubt that there was another Cawthon photography shop in town because Florala was such a small town.

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