The Opelika Chamber of Commerce was organized on January 13, 1941 and was incorporated on August 26 of that same year by Homer Carter, Yetta G. Samford, R.W. Williams, Edward M. Roberts, Jr., Winston Smith T, A.L. Screws, A.C. Tatum, D.W. Ward, John L. Whatley and John D. McKibben.
Many of these individuals' families are still in Opelika, contributing as much to the prosperity of the City as they once did. And while the faces have changed, the goal of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce largely remains the same.
As was recorded in the original Petition for Incorporation, it is to "promote the commercial, industrial, agricultural and civic interests of the City of Opelika and the surrounding territory; to promote integrity and good faith, just and equitable principles in business..." In 1941, "annual dues were $12 - minimum - payable quarterly."
The Opelika Chamber has had several Presidents, but two of the more notable ones were William N. "Bill" Sharp, who ran the organization from 1946 through 1977 and Henry Stern, who ran it from 1977 through 1988.
History of Whitfield-Duke-Searcy Home
Now home to the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, the Whitfield-Duke-Searcy Home was built by the John Whitfield family in 1895. They sold the Victorian home to Judge Duke and his family in 1902. The Whitfields, then moved to Montgomery and opened the ALGA Syrup Company and the Whitfield Pickle Company. In 1903, the pocket doors were installed. In 1932, gas furnaces were installed.
Mrs. Inez Duke Searcy, Judge Duke's daughter and the second female attorney in our state, moved her family into the home in the late thirties/early forties. She entertained, raised her children and enjoyed living in the home until 1979.
In 1979, First Alabama Bank purchased the Searcy home for their Opelika office. In 1988, the City of Opelika bought the building from the bank to house the Chamber of Commerce.
All of the pocket doors are original to the house. The alcove under the stairs was home to a "swooning couch." The conference room was originally the formal dining room and closer to the kitchen was the breakfast room. There were also pocket doors between the parlor and dining room, and there is a slight recess there now. The bank had installed a teller line where the doors had been.
The downstairs rooms were bedrooms for guests. The kitchen remains in the same location. The upstairs housed the family sleeping quarters.
All of the mantles are original to the home as is the inside woodwork. The front room mantle is made of birds-eye maple. The stairwell is original, but it has been painted. All of the leaded glass windows in the house are original, including the one on the upper wall above the stairs and below the stairwell, which was used to brighten the dark corner below the stairs. There was a barn at the site of the drive through.