DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Downtown Decatur has undergone some major changes over the years. It seems like every time there's new construction going on in downtown Decatur, people talk about unearthing an underground series of tunnels. But what you hear and what's actually there are two different things.
The 1904 building housing the Blackburn, Maloney and Schuppert law firm is one place where you get a peek at history, especially beneath the 201 Second Avenue location.
Mark Maloney is a partner at the firm.
"We're in the basement, so we're below ground level, but it opens into what you might call a tunnel. And the tunnel runs the full width of the front of this building," he said.
Maloney revealed windows that once allowed light to come into the building and they were used to bring in goods many years prior.
John Allison is the Morgan County Archivist. He said these areas only go around certain buildings.
"You can notice as you look down the street that it's set back about six feet farther. The sidewalk is a bit wider here," said Allison. "That's really, I believe, to compensate for this tunnel or whatever this opening that you would have had to be basement level."
Most of the block was originally mapped out in 1887 or 1888 to be a grand hotel. The only reminder left is a concrete sign dated 1904, after a fire destroyed the original.
The 1927 Morgan County Archives building on Bank Street also has large ditch like places where the light came into the basement and where coal was a primary heat source.
"When you got a delivery of coal, they would just dump it down one of these kind of openings and you'd have a large pile of coal right next to the furnace," said Allison.
There are several places downtown where rumors of tunnels are centered, including a barber shop and even the 1833 "old bank."
"I've heard rumors about tunnels that have been found when they did construction around here. They would go from the river bank up to and around the old state bank," said Allison.
"There was speculation that maybe there were tunnels that went as far away as the river, but I don't think so," Maloney added.
"It doesn't really pass the smell test to me, but maybe - you know, stranger things have happened," said Allison.
But all the new construction has NOT unearthed any secret passages in Bobby's Bama.