Montevallo, from its founding to the 1940s, witnessed a transformation that took the tiny village through several stages. Early on, because of the richness of the land, Montevallo thrived as an agricultural center. With the building of railways and the nearby discovery of coal in the 1870s, the economy began to shift to mining. By 1900, education and services began to challenge agriculture and mining as the dominant employers. These images reflect some of those changes. Montevallo, fortunately, preserved several structures from this era, and many of these photographs reflect their enduring architectural legacy. Victorian-style houses dominated the town up to the early 1900s, as did Victorian-style dress. The automobile came to Montevallo at this time and transformed the town as the dirt streets slowly gave way to paved roads. While the Great Depression affected Montevallo, the community could rely on education, agriculture, and Works Progress Administration projects to ease the pain of economic dislocation.
By the early 1940s, the last of the local coalmines closed. However, since 1950, continued population growth of the region and close proximity to the Birmingham area allowed Montevallo to thrive and prosper, with the town growing to nearly 5,000. As the college, and then university, grew during the 1960s, the ties between campus and town increased. (from Montevallo p. 9 and 117)