We're back to downtown Montgomery for this post. John Gindrat wasn't one of the original inhabitants of the city of Montgomery, but he was one of the early power players. He built the first brick house in the city, and served as mayor on two separate occasions. He also donated part of the land for the original First Baptist Church. In 1841 he built what would become the Winter Building on Court Square to serve as the Montgomery branch of the Bank of St. Mary's. John Gano Winter operated the Bank out of Columbus, Georgia, and soon John Gano Winter's son Joseph married John Gindrat's daughter Mary Elizabeth. In 1848, Joseph Winter and his father-in-law opened a new bank, J.S. Winter & Co., in the Winter Building. John Gindrat died in 1854, and the building passed to his daughter Mary Elizabeth.
On February 4, 1861, the Montgomery Convention convened at the Alabama State Capitol. The purpose of the Convention was to organize the preliminary government of the Confederate States of America. The Convention's most famous attendee was former President John Tyler, who served as one of the delegates for Virginia until his death less than a year later. The Confederate States Army was established in March, and P.G.T. Beauregard was commissioned as the first Confederate general officer. He was immediately sent to Charleston, South Carolina to take control of the siege of Fort Sumter. That same week, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, and was immediately saddled with the Fort Sumter crisis.
On April 6th, Lincoln notified the government of South Carolina that the U.S. was sending supplies to their troops at Fort Sumter, but he did not communicate to the C.S.A. government in Montgomery. South Carolina governor Francis W. Pickens notified General Beauregard of the pending re-supply mission, and Beauregard sent word back to Montgomery. C.S.A. President Jefferson Davis met with his cabinet on April 9th, and the decision was made to have Beauregard make one final demand to surrender the fort. If the U.S. forces refused, Beauregard was ordered to destroy the fort before the supplies could arrive. The Montgomery office of the Southern Telegraph Company was on the second floor of the Winter Building, and on April 11th the final pre-war communication from President Davis to General Beauregard was sent by C.S.A Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker. In local lore, this has gone down as the Telegram Which Began The War Between The States. This telegram is the Winter Building's biggest claim to fame.
The next three photos show the Winter Building from Court Square in 1890, 1938, and today.
Our next photo shows the front of the Winter Building, followed by the Winter Building historical marker and its text, the reverse side showing the Telegram Which Began The War Between The States and its text, and finally we have a map showing the location of the marker and the building.
The Winter Building has been empty for several years now, but it is currently planned as one of the centerpieces of the new Montgomery Market District.