Only one house was built in the village in the decade after the Civil War, and though the state took over the bankrupt college in 1872, the institution received no state appropriation until 1883. Nevertheless, in 1892, the poorly-funded college pioneered in Alabama by admitting females and fielding the first football team in the region. Other milestones included the introduction of electric lights (1886), telephone (1904), running water from a water tank (1908), a gas pump for the town's first autos (1909), and silent films (1913). Celebrities who visited the town included: U.S. Presidents James Knox Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt; Confederate President Jefferson Davis; inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright, educator Booker T. Washington, and entertainers Will Rogers, Bob Hope, and Elvis Presley. The remarkable growth of the community and college in recent years requires a new chapter in the town's history. But the Auburn spirit, celebrated through the years in song and story, survives undiminished in a new era.
The "Loveliest Village"
By the Treaty of Cusseta (1832), the Creek Tribe relinquished title to East Alabama, but some Creeks resisted until their forcible removal (1832-1836). In late 1836, Judge John Jackson Harper, of Harris County, Georgia, along with his eleven children, relatives, and slaves, established a settlement in the area, which Lizzie Taylor, his son's future bride, named "Auburn, sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain," from Oliver Goldsmith's poem, "The Deserted Village." In 1856, Methodists established the East Alabama Male College (the forerunner of Auburn University). After 1847, the Montgomery and West Point Railroad connected the village to regional markets. During the Civil War (1861-1865), the railroad brought wounded Confederates to recuperate in makeshift hospitals in Auburn. It also provided a route to reinforce Atlanta. To prevent reinforcement, Federal troops twice invaded the village to destroy the tracks. In April 1865, the defeat of the Confederacy left the community, college, and local economy in desolate financial condition.