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Rubble all that’s left of

downtown Goshen

By AMY S. LANSDON

Downtown Goshen is undergoing change that may sadden some of its lifetime residents, but will eventually bring a sense of unity to the community.

The Goshen Town Council voted unanimously last week to tear down the buildings in downtown to make room for a community center, which will serve all of the Goshen community. Goshen Mayor Michael Sanders said the demolition and the community center is something the council has been discussing for years, and finally decided to move on.

"Everyone in town seems to be excited," said Sanders. "Right now the only places we have for gatherings is to rent the Circle S Diner or use the Goshen High School cafeteria when it is available.

"We came to the conclusion that many repairs were needed on the downtown buildings. There were water problems and new roofing was needed."

Sanders said what began as an idea among council members grew into a larger building. The new building will be available for community activities, reunions, will house Goshen Town Hall and the polling place for voters in that district.

"The building will be a community center," he said. "It’s not in concrete, but we’re thinking about a nutrition center."

The demolition of downtown and the construction of the new community center will cost about $250,000, and is being made possible by a Community Development Block Grant from ADECA in conjunction with grant funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and South Alabama Electric Cooperative. To receive the funds the town will have to match the $250,000 with $25,000.

"The money will come from the town’s general fund," said Sanders. "We’ve been saving for this for several years."

Goshen was incorporated in 1907, but was a town before the incorporation. According to Margaret Pace Farmer’s book the History of Pike County, a community existed at Goshen Hill some time before the early 1930s. The original site of Goshen or Goshen Hill was several miles from where downtown stand now, but was moved when the railroad came to town in 1890. In 1905 a petition was signed to incorporate the town of Goshen one half mile from each direction of the public well. A vote was held and 40 people voted to incorporate and none opposed. According to Farmer’s history another petition was filed again to incorporate in 1907.

 

Sanders said he thinks the buildings which are being demolished in downtown Goshen are the same ones that were built when the town was incorporated.

"When the buildings were being torn down some of the original arches were found," said Sanders. "Not just one of the buildings had arches, all of them did."

Sanders said some of the residents of Goshen wanted to save the facade of downtown Goshen, but the buildings needed to many repairs to make it feasible. The Goshen jail, where Hank Williams Sr. spent several nights will remain intact, but Sanders said it may be moved in the future.

Sanders said one of the ideas behind the community center is to get the residents of Goshen involved in community activities, like the Christmas parade.

"The school has made a big effort to get involved with the community," said Sanders. "They held a big bonfire in downtown Goshen and a lot of the community was involved. We want more of the townspeople to get involved."

Nov. 11, 1999, 10 PM