Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority

Authentic. Alive. Delicious


Decatur’s rich history dates to 1823 when it was founded by order of the U. S. Congress and President James Monroe in honor of the renowned U. S. naval officer Commodore Stephen Decatur (1779-1820). Decatur, who won a sword from Congress and a captaincy when he was only 25, was one of the most daring officers in the United States Navy during its early years. He is remembered for his timeless toast: “Our country; in her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong.”

Situated on the banks of the Tennessee River, Decatur was an integral port during the War Between the States. The area’s key railroad junction made the city a prime location for both sides. Union troops took over the Old State Bank, one of three bank branches opened in 1833 as part of the original state-wide banking system designed by Andrew Jackson, and turned the building into a makeshift hospital and guard house. The Old State Bank and three other buildings were the only structures to survive the Civil War when Union troops withdrew from the city.





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