Russell Lands is a company of unique vision, diversity, and service. We understand that maximizing the Lake Martin experience goes beyond just offering world-class homes and neighborhoods, but rather creating experiences and companies that help people solve problems and celebrate relationships. Russell Lands has also established a proud tradition of promoting conservation and thoughtful use of Lake Martin's natural resources. Russell Lands is dedicated to preserving and accentuating the natural world around Lake Martin, ensuring its beauty and recreation for years to come.
At Russell Lands, we believe that our past serves as a roadmap to our future. Check out how Russell Lands has evolved over the years.
J.J. Benson, a slave who would become a successful entrepreneur, owned and operated thousands of acres of land near Kowaliga Creek. His son William founded the Kowaliga Academic & Industrial Institute in 1896 and the Dixie industrial Company in 1900 to enhance the lives of the local African American population.
In 1902, Benjamin 'Mr. Ben' Russell founded Russell Mills in a modest wooden building, never realizing that he was laying the foundation to the billion-dollar Fortune 500 Russell Corporation. Until his death in 1941, Mr. Ben spent his life establishing over a dozen businesses in Alexander City and founding and serving as the first president of the Alabama Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Ben's commitment to the employees of the Russell Manufacturing Company led to the construction of a hospital, church, school, and vital infrastructure to support the families in the Russell Mill Village. In 1932, Southern Manufacturing Company was formed as the beginning of Russell Athletic, a brand now recognized the world over.
Governor William W. Brandon at Cherokee Bluffs1925
As early as 1911, Mr. Ben recognized the potential for hydroelectric power from the Tallapoosa River and started the construction of a dam at Buzzards' Roost Shoals. The project later sold to what would become the Alabama Power Company, and they made preparations for the construction of Martin Dam. In 1925, Alabama Governor William W. Brandon spoke at the cornerstone laying ceremony in front of a crowd of hundreds.
Final Spillways Are Closed1926
In early June 1926, engineers began pouring the last two sections of the dam. In October of 1936, Alabama Power Company officially named the project 'Martin Dam' and 'Lake Martin' in honor of the president of the company, Thomas W. Martin. The newly constructed Kowaliga Bridge provided transport across the waters of what was the largest man-made lake in the world at the time.
Kowaliga Academic & Industrial Institute and Hotel Camp Dixie1917 - 1927
Long before Lake Martin became a reality, Mr. Ben acquired a significant portion of the land in an effort to preserve what would become almost 900 miles of pristine shoreline. The public response to Lake Martin was undeniable. Kowaliga School became the popular Hotel Camp Dixie. Word spread about Alabama's new outdoor wonderland, drawing visitors from across America.
Kowaliga Roadside Park1948
As more people came to appreciate the fun and recreation of Lake Martin, new facilities needed to be built to accommodate them. In 1948-49, the state built a park in the historic Kowaliga area, which would soon become outdated. In 1960, Robert Russell began construction of the larger Wind Creek Park which was wildly successful and became a state park in 1970.
Hank Williams Cabin1952
Lake Martin has inspired many great things. In 1952, while staying at the Dobbs' Cabin, Hank Williams was so moved that he penned two classic songs, 'Kaw-Liga' and 'Your Cheatin' Heart.' Today, the historic cabin features reproduced furnishings that match those enjoyed by its most famous guest.
Willow Point Golf & Country Club1964
In 1960, Russell Farms officially became Russell Lands. In 1964, Willow Point Golf & Country Club, built as a replacement for the old Alexander City golf course, would be among the first major properties to come under Russell Lands' stewardship. The company broke ground on its first residential development, Willow Point Estates, in 1972, and continues to expand today.
Ben & Luanne Russell
'Mr. Ben' established a proud family legacy of uncommon commitment to both land and community. His grandson and namesake (and current Chairman) Ben Russell continues this tradition to this day. In 1989, Ben and his wife Luanne created Children's Harbor, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening children and families. 'Mr. Ben' established a proud family legacy of uncommon commitment to both land and community. Ben Russell continues his grandfather's tradition to this day.
Children's Harbor Family Resource Center1989
Russell Lands' principal charity rests on a beautiful 66-acre campus on Lake Martin providing camping and adventure services to thousands of children with long-term serious illnesses and their families. The Russells have also developed and funded the Children's Harbor Family Resource Center within the Children's Hospital Complex in Birmingham to provide family counseling, social work, education, and support services.
The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children2012
On May 23, 2008, it was announced that Ben and Luanne Russell had pledged $25 million in support of Children's Hospital, the largest donation in the history of the hospital. The Benjamin Russell Hospital for Children opened in 2012 and is dedicated in honor and memory of 'Mr. Ben.'
Passion and Dedication
Russell Lands attributes its success over the years to the uncommon vision and unwavering commitment of its people. Meet our corporate officers.
Chairman of the Board
President & CEO
COO & CFO
Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary
President of Russell Marine
Supporting the Community Around Us
From the earliest days of Russell Lands, the Russell family has understood its role in the community and has made giving back a cornerstone of its corporate culture and guiding philosophy. A legacy of giving lives on.