Building a City in the Wilderness:COnstruction Camps of the Alabama Power Company
Monaghan, Marietta Coleman
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Building a City in the Wilderness: Construction Camps of the Alabama Power Company Marietta Coleman Monaghan 494 pages Directed by Dr. Laura H. Hollengreen This dissertation explores how architecture can actively be incorporated into processes of community formation within the Alabama Power Company (APC) worker camps constructed from 1905–1930. Many studies have examined the planning of mill villages and company towns, but this dissertation seeks to examine a subset of those living arrangements regarding a company town that was intended to last only for a single construction project setting the APC camps apart from the more permanent sites such as the mill towns of early New England or the later mining and manufacturing towns of the American South. This is also an investigation of the rehabilitation of a relatively unknown history through the examination of peripheral source materials containing documentation for the conveyance of information too complex to be verbally transmitted. The data are drawn primarily from archival research and literature review of construction drawings, contractor’s progress reports, memoirs, the company newsmagazine, and dedications of new hydraulic power plants and dams where printed events schedules were given as mementos to attendees, that provide additional support data for reconstruction of this history. This dissertation places the APC and its worker camps as one more example in the discussion of corporate welfare programs, issues of race, class, and gendered discrimination in the American South during the first half of the twentieth century. The discrimination is manifested in the architecture and underscores much of what has previously been published; however, the answers to such questions cannot be more than suggestive as the APC archives cannot give us the entire picture. In the end, with Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple developing modern-day company towns, this historical examination of the APC camps provides essential background for understanding the developing social role of the corporation and for assessing its future direction.