The area that is now located within Lanett was first settled in the 1840s, primarily by former citizens of West Point, Georgia, on the east bank of the Chattahoochee River. The two communities shared close ties, with children in the new community, named Bluffton at the time, attending school in West Point. Bluffton was incorporated in 1865 or 1866; its name probably derives from it being situated on a bluff overlooking the river.
The Lanett Cotton Mills opened in 1894 and remained the area’s main employer until the late twentieth century, when it closed as textile companies moved jobs overseas. The town changed its name to Lanett in February 1895; it is a combination of the last names of textile magnates Lafayette Lanier and Theodore Bennett. The first water system was constructed in 1896. A smallpox epidemic hit the town in 1903, forcing homes to be quarantined and fumigated and a quarantine hospital to be set up.
Lanett Cotton Mills Postcard Also by 1903, the city had begun to install electric street lights, and a water system was constructed in 1904. The first school was built in 1914; it burned in 1923 and was rebuilt the following year. Sewer service was constructed around 1917, the same year that the city bought the electrical utility formerly run by the Lanett Cotton Mills. Lanett built a train depot in 1921 that served the Western Railway of Alabama and the Chattahoochee Valley Railway Company, which was run by the mills. In 1956, Lanett established its own fire department, having relied upon that of West Point for many years prior. The cotton mills that sustained the Lanett economy closed completely in the first decade of the twenty-first century, with none operating by 2009.
According to 2020 Census estimates, Lanett recorded a population of 6,220. Of that number, 64.1 percent of respondents identified themselves as African American, 33.4 percent as white, 7.3 percent as Hispanic, 1.8 percent as two or more races, and 0.1 percent as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The town’s median household income was $34,785, and the per capita income was $21,245.
According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Lanett was divided among the following industrial categories:
- Manufacturing (34.3 percent)
- Educational services and health care and social assistance (20.0 percent)
- Retail trade (8.2 percent)
- Other services, except public administration (7.4 percent)
- Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (7.4 percent)
- Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (6.8 percent)
- Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (5.8 percent)
- Finance and insurance, and real estate and rental and leasing (3.9 percent)
- Information (3.6 percent)
- Public administration (1.9 percent)
- Construction (1.1 percent)
- Wholesale trade (0.5 percent)
Schools in Lanett are part of the Lanett City School System, which oversees one elementary school, one junior high school, and one high school.
Lanett is served by State Highway 15, which runs north-south through the town, and State Highway 50, which runs west.
Events and Places of Interest
Fort Tyler The site of Fort Tyler, the last Confederate fort to fall during the Civil War, is partially located within the city limits of Lanett. The Griggs-Simmons House; Homeland, the Boykin House; Old Lanett High School; and Temple Beth-El are listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
Chambers County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Chambers County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1999.
Chattahoochee Valley Historical Society. The Story of Bluffton-Lanett Alabama. Montgomery, Ala.: Paragon Press, 1971.