Pell City

Pell City Drug Co. Building Pell City is one of two county seats of St. Clair County, the other being Ashville; it is located in the north-central part of the state. It has a mayor/city council form of government with elected terms of four years.


Pell City was founded in 1890 and incorporated in 1891; it was originally developed by the Pell City Iron and Land Company and named for New Yorker George H. Pell, president of the East and West Alabama Railroad who later served time in prison for bank fraud in New York. The town nearly failed as a result of the economic panics of 1893-1894, and the Pell City Iron and Land Company went bankrupt. Sumter Cogswell, who had arranged the original sale of land to the Pell City Iron and Land Company, purchased the principal acreage on which the town stands in 1901 for $3,000 and moved his family to the town; it was incorporated in the following year.

St. Clair County Courthouse in Pell City That same year, Cogswell gave 150 acres of land to the Pell City Manufacturing Company (which was bought out by Avondale Mills in 1919), and the city was designated the second county seat. The move was deemed necessary because of the difficulties faced by residents in the northern part of the county in traveling over the mountains to Ashville. Pell City’s status as county seat was rescinded in 1905, when the Alabama Supreme Court upheld an act of the legislature prohibiting the existence of two county seats. It was reestablished as county seat in 1907 by an amendment to the state constitution.

The original courthouse building was replaced in March 1956; the main speaker at the dedication of the new structure was Gov. James E. Folsom Sr. Also in 1956, the nearby towns of Eden, Oak Ridge, and Avondale Mills Village merged with Pell City.

With the 2001 opening of the Honda Motors plant in nearby Lincoln, Pell City has undergone a period of growth. Long-term employer Avondale Mills ceased operations in the Pell City in 2006, however.

On April 27, 2011, a massive storm, causing numerous powerful tornadoes, struck the southeastern United States. More than 250 people were killed in Alabama, including one person in Pell City.


Eissmann Automotive Expansion in Pell City According to 2020 Census estimates, Pell City recorded a population of 14,081. Of that number, 85.7 percent identified themselves as white, 10.4 percent as African American, 2.1 percent as Asian, 1.1 percent as Hispanic, 1.1 percent as two or more races, and 0.1 as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander. The city’s median household income was $59,536, and per capita income was $31,693.


According to 2020 Census estimates, the workforce in Pell City was divided among the following industrial categories:

  • Manufacturing (22.6 percent)
  • Educational services, and health care and social assistance (21.0 percent)
  • Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (11.7 percent)
  • Public administration (8.8 percent)
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services (8.5 percent)
  • Retail trade (7.1 percent)
  • Transportation and warehousing and utilities (5.0 percent)
  • Other services, except public administration (4.8 percent)
  • Construction (4.6 percent)
  • Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (3.6 percent)
  • Wholesale trade (2.0 percent)
  • Information (0.4 percent)


Public schools in Pell City are part of the Pell City School District; the city has four elementary schools, one intermediate school, two junior high schools, and one high school; there are also three private K-12 schools. The city also hosts a campus of Jefferson State Community College.


Pell City is intersected by U.S. Highways 231 (north-south) and 78 (east-west). It is located about two miles from Interstate Highway 20 which connects Atlanta and Birmingham. It also is served by the Pell City Airport.

Events and Places of Interest

Lakeside Park Pell City has several recreational venues, including the Civic Center, with basketball and tennis courts, and Lakeside Park. The city has 275 miles of shoreline on Logan Martin Lake, which offers camping, fishing, skiing, swimming, sailing, and many other water activities. The area also has two golf courses, Pine Harbor and the Pell City Golf Course.

Pell City is home to a number of structures on the National Register of Historic Places, which are distributed among the city’s three recognized historic districts: the Old Pell City Historic District (listed 2001), the Pell City Downtown Historic District (listed 2001), and the Avondale Mill Historic District (listed 2000).

Additional Resources

Crow, Mattie Lou Teague. History of St. Clair County (Alabama). Huntsville, Ala.: Strode Publishers, 1973.

The Heritage of St. Clair County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 1998.

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