This town hall has stories to tell

Published 4:19 pm Monday, July 19, 2010

If this old building could talk, oh, the stories it might tell.

Anything that has ever happened in Wilton eventually found its way to the little rock town hall by the railroad track

The construction of the structure was a 1934 project of Roosevelt’s Civil Works Administration. Hubert Lucas, who has served on the Wilton City Council for more than 30 years, said he remembers seeing people gathering those rocks for the building from the Rocky Hill area just southwest of Montevallo.

In the beginning, and for a long time afterward, there was upstairs in the building a jail with two cells and police offices. In the floor of the jail was a hole left so that the prisoners could be observed from the offices below. Imagine the problem when prisoners stopped up the plumbing so that it overflowed.

The cells in the jail were padded and made of soft aluminum and were often damaged by the fists of unruly inmates. No more than one cell was usually occupied at a time and quite often the detainees were intoxicated. April Price, city clerk, remembers the story of the nighttime jailer who would lift some of the liquor from the evidence room and join an inmate in a little celebration.

Joe Fancher, long-time mayor and councilman, explained in the early days there was an open structure in the back of the building that sheltered the fire wagon. When an alarm was sounded, the wagon, carrying rolls of water hose, was pulled to the site by eight or 10 volunteer firemen. Understandably, it was often too late.

The town hall downstairs has always housed the offices of the mayor and staff. At different times, it has been used as a polling place and for the meetings of the city council.

Judy Winslett Hammett, who served as city clerk for a number of years, told the funny story of an irate customer with an extremely high water bill, who insisted that there was no explanation for the excess usage except that his horse had turned the outside water on and left it running.

The old building could relate many more humorous tales along with those of unusual and exciting events. The jail space is now used for storage and prisoners are sent to the county jail; fire calls are handled by Montevallo; meetings are in the annex; computers have replaced pen and paper. Old records have been updated and those, along with current records, news and other information are now online.

“This old building is still a beehive of activity,” said Price. “We have our share of irate customers and controversial happenings, but mostly we have good fellowship and happy residents.”