History of Century

tannenheim house

April 8, 2001, marked the one hundredth known date of the use of the name, “Century.” The term was taken to describe the beginnings of the little sawmill town in Northwest Florida. Lore has it at that time the area was called “Teaspoon,” the origin of which has several possible explanations. It is unlikely the area where the mill and the town were built was ever called “Teaspoon,” since that entire 80 or so acres were the Mayo farm. If you want to find out more about the typical Southern mill town, visit the museums of the Alger-Sullivan Historical Society

In the mid-to-late 1800s, and even all the way into the mid 1900s, the pine forests of South Alabama were prime sources of lumber for the booming economy of the United States and much of the rest of the world. Lumber producing mills seemed to spring up all over. Two of the larger mills in South Alabama were the W.T. Smith mill, in Chapman, Alabama, now defunct, and the T.R. Miller mill in Brewton, Alabama, still in operation.

The Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company, located in Century, was built at the turn of the twentieth century (hence the town’s name) by Yankee (northern) speculators General R.A. Alger of Detroit and Martin Sullivan, residing in Pensacola, but originally from New York State.

Sullivan and his brother had bought up large tracts of timber during the previous decades and after a small mill at Foshee, near Brewton, Escambia County, Ala., proved profitable, this larger mill just across the state line in Florida was built.

The original notion was that the timber would only last about ten years or so. But the mill's manager, E.A. Hauss, also from Detroit, planned for and allowed creative cutting and replanting in the forests, thus the mill in Century ran for almost 50 additional years! It produced more southern pine board feet per year than any other mill in the south. The mill has now been closed for many years.

History of Incorporation

The community of Century was originally an unincorporated part of Escambia County.  Neighboring to its north on the Florida/Alabama state line, the Town of South Flomaton, which was incorporated in 1945, changed its name to Town of Century in 1979.  On April 22, 1980, the Town of Century annexed the unincorporated community directly south and both entities became the Town of Century.

 

(Courtesy of Alger Sullivan Historical Society.)