Shelby County Museum and Archives Columbiana is the county seat of Shelby County; it is located near the geographic center of the state. The city has a mayor/city council form of government. Alabama governor Robert Bentley was born in Columbiana.
Originally called Columbia, Columbiana was first settled around 1821, probably by inhabitants of nearby towns that preceded it. When the town was selected over Montevallo as the county seat in an 1826 vote, the residents celebrated by boring holes in a large pine tree, filling them with gunpowder, and setting the tree on fire, resulting in a huge explosion. A post office was established in the town the same year. The town was renamed Columbiana by the Alabama legislature in 1832. Columbiana was incorporated on December 5, 1837.
Hay Baling near Columbiana An old schoolhouse served as the county courthouse until 1854, when a new building was constructed. Several foundries were established in the town in the mid-nineteenth century, with one burned in 1865, during the final year of the Civil War. The People’s Advocate newspaper was founded in 1892.The courthouse moved to its current home in 1905. The Shelby County Sun newspaper was established in 1910.
Columbiana’s population, according to 2020 Census estimates, was 4,602. Of that number, 66.6 percent identified themselves as white, 25.6 percent as African American, 4.0 percent as two or more races, 2.6 percent as Hispanic, and 1.0 percent as American Indian. The city’s median household income was $45,759 and the per capita income was $21,173.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Columbiana was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (16.8 percent)
- Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (16.0 percent)
- Manufacturing (14.6 percent)
- Educational services, and health care and social assistance (12.7 percent)
- Retail trade (9.6 percent)
- Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (7.9 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (6.8 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing and utilities (6.6 percent)
- Public administration (3.6 percent)
- Construction (2.4 percent)
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (2.1 percent)
- Wholesale trade (0.7 percent)
- Information (0.2 percent)
Schools in Columbiana are part of the Shelby County School District; the city has one elementary school, one middle school, one high school, and a 9-12 a vocational school. The city also has one private school serving K-12.
The city is served by County Road 47 and State Highways 25 and 70. It also is served by the Tri-L Acres Airport.
Events and Places of Interest
George Washington Bust Columbiana has a city park with a pavilion, playground area, and softball fields. The Columbiana Sports Complex includes baseball fields, a football field, batting cages, and a walking track.
The Shelby County Museum and Archives is located in the 1854 Shelby County Courthouse building, which is also the headquarters of the Shelby County Historical Society. Also located in Columbiana is the Karl C. Harrison Museum of George Washington, which houses that largest collection of George and Martha Washington memorabilia outside of Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.
Since 1986, Columbiana has celebrated Liberty Day on the last Saturday in June. Established in honor of the rededication of the Statue of Liberty in 1986, the celebration features music, arts and crafts, children’s activities, and a fireworks display.
Shelby County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.