"From one store in 1822 to Alabama's Literary Capital in 1997"
Originally a part of the Mississippi Territory purchased from Spain in 1795, this area was inhabited and controlled by Indian Nations until 1814. Now safe from Indian uprisings, settlers migrated down the Old Federal Road as far as Burnt Corn and thence westward across the Old Stage Road that traversed through Monroeville and connected with Claiborne. Other settlers came from Mobile on the Alabama River. First known as The Crossroads, then Walker's Mill and Store, and Centerville (until the county seat was moved from Claiborne in 1832), the founding of Monroeville can be traced to an 80-acre land purchase by Monroe County in July 1831. The three-ace public square is part of the original land purchase. Early economic survival was dependent on more than 400 small farms throughout the county. The economic turning point for area farmers came with the opening of the town's first bank, the First National Bank, in 1904.
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Monroeville's industry got its start when Vanity Fair Mills opened its first sewing plant in 1937 on Alabama Avenue. Originally employing 300 people, mostly women, the plant became known as the Southern Corporate Headquarters, and at its peak in 1995, employed 2,500. Vanity Fair contributed considerably to Monroeville's infrastructure, including Whitey Lee Park, its five-acre lake, the Monroeville Community House, etc. Additional industries, including the Alabama River Company established at Claiborne in 1978, followed Vanity Fair's lead in choosing the Monroeville area for growth and expansion. Famous Monroeville residents include Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Nelle Harper Lee, author of the internationally acclaimed novel, "To Kill A Mockingbird," set in the 1930s small town of Maycomb, Alabama. Lee's childhood playmate, Truman Capote, also lived here. In 1991, the Monroe County Heritage Museum staged its first production of "To Kill A Mockingbird." The production is an Annual spring event by The Mockingbird Players, an all-volunteer cast. In 1997, Monroeville was officially designated "The Literary Capital of Alabama."