Built in 1936, the Farmer's Building is located at 100 South Market Street. It is a two-story, painted brick building with a one-story extension on the north side. It features a hipped roof and central chimney, with awning-type windows on the second floor with metal awnings. The ground floor has a shed-roofed canopy of wood and asphalt shingles. This is another lost building. It was torn down in DATE, though the footprint can still be seen. It was a big building that abutted the Farmer Building. It can be seen below in this 1957 aerial view of the square.

Current view: paved footprint of building

1957 aerial view

Notice that the Brown Building in the lower left corner is still two-story.

1936 until DATE: Jackson County Telephone

The most famous tenant of this removed second story of the Farmer’s Building was the Jackson County Telephone Company when the “company” consisted of a group of women operating a switchboard. Photos of this switchboard from the newspaper are found below. The is also a 1930 ad from the JCHS school book, the Reminder showing that the phone company was privately owned and that A. L. Carpenter was the owner and manager.

The building has been the site of many businesses over the years. The 1961 telephone book says that the Jackson County Telephone Company and State Farm Insurance are at this address. By the publishing of the 1966 phone book, State Farm had moved to Word Arcade. Leroy Gist operated a restaurant here for a time in the 1950s. Jack Holder remembers that Mr. Marvin Campbell and some of his associates operated a stock ticker upstairs in the Farmer Building and watched the activities on Wall Street closely.

1930 ad from the Reminder

Photos of the Switchboard from the Progressive Age.

1929 Photos of the early Jackson County Phone Company from City Hall

Men on a pole outside the office, located on the second floor of the building on the left corner of Broad and Willow.

Vehicle with all line employees, L to R: Vassar Lamb, Ernie Kirk, and — Day, and Bert Vann, Manager.

1929: cartoon feature about A.L. Carpenter, owner of Jackson County Telephone

1950s-60s: Downstairs Tenants

The 104 S. Market address was occupied by Jeff’s Appliance in 1956. Wade Maples remembers that before everyone had televisions at home (indeed, in every room…), people used to gather around the window of this building in the evenings and watch the television that Jeff Eyster left running in his shop to attract potential customers.

By 1960, Pioneer Finance is in this location. By 1965, State Farm Insurance was at this location, where it remained through 1970, when Orkin Exterminating was also found at this location. When the Jackson County Sentinel relocated to its new building on West Laurel, State Farm moved with it, and occupied the office at the end of the building. In 1975, the Jackson County Advertiser was in the location.

1960-1980s Scottsboro Flower Shop

This building was home to Scottsboro Flower Shop, run by Gaynell Dilbeck Bell Powell. The business can be documented at the location as early as 1956 and as late as 1980. The ad below is from the 1967 city directory.

1980 Scottsboro Flower Shop ad from the yearbook

Tales of the Farmer Building

Bob Hodges in his “Going Home Again” wrote this about the switchboard and operators Veda Maude Sumner and Bert Woodall: “If there is a fire, we can stand on the sidewalk and watch Fire Chief Shorty Bishop shoot out of the fire hall at the corner of the square on the truck with the siren going and the red light blinking, and watch it make one round of the square on its way to the fire, as a half dozen volunteer fire fighters run out of grocery and drug stores and other businesses, shedding aprons and business clothes, and jumping on the back of the truck while pulling on fire‐fighting gear. When the truck is gone, we can quickly find out where the fire is, because Veda Maude and Bert at the switchboard will be happy to tell you, and probably what caused the fire, too. I am convinced as a child that there is nothing Veda Maude and Bert do not know about any of us, and I am always uneasy in their presence, as if they know some secret about me I will be ashamed of.”