All posts by bhistorical

ONE DAY ONLY! Holiday Gifts of History!

Don’t miss this ONE DAY ONLY sale of the most popular Birmingham Historical Society books – gift wrapped for the holidays!

Bob Moody’s Birmingham • Birmingham: The City Beautiful, • Shades Creek Flowing through Time, • Mountain Brook Village: Then & Now • Mountain Brook: A Historic Landscape • Pretty Posies: Powerful Healing

Heritage Society celebrates 40 years of James Beard award winning restaurant, Highlands Bar & Grill

Birmingham Historical Society President, Wayne Hester, greets members of the Heritage Society as they gather to celebrate nearly 40 years of culinary excellence at Highlands Bar &Grill. Chef Frank Stitt opened his award winning restaurant in the historic Spanish Stores building in Five Points South in 1980 in what was then a ’fine food desert’. Since then he and Pardis have received multiple awards including James Beard’s Best Restaurant in the United States, as well as training many of the restaurant/entrepreneurs that have made Birmingham a fine food destination.


From “The Heritage Society Goes to Highlands” by Marjorie L. White, Editor, November 13, 2021

Birmingham becomes a Bird & Wildflower Sanctuary in 1927 thanks to Mayor George Ward

https://alaudubon.org/

Today’s Alabama Audubon was organized in 1927 by Birmingham Mayor George Ward who was influenced by birdhouse salesman, Joseph Dodson. After purchasing a collection of his products for his private residence in Vestavia, Ward became an avid bird enthusiast. He solicited the help of Dr. H.E. Wheeler, who was a curator of the natural history museum at the University of Alabama, to present an illustrated ‘bird talk’ and the Birmingham Audubon Society was born with 49 members, and George Ward as President.

Thanks to his efforts and those of his neighbor, E.J. Smyer, who had an interest in preserving wildflowers, a law was passed to preserve wildflowers in 1927 and wild birds in 1929 which exists to this day. Of the 800 recorded species in the United States, 327 were documented by the National Audubon Society to reside in Alabama.

Birmingham Historical Society’s November 2021 newsletter elaborates on the history of this organization and lists the 49 charter members. Interested in birding trails nearby? Here’s a map and list of popular areas to explore in Jefferson County. This guide or this list might be helpful as well. Finally, the Alabama Audubon’s quarterly guide lists upcoming events through the end of the 2021 year.

The most common bird in Alabama is the American Robin, followed by the Downy Woodpecker. For a list of the 24 most common birds, please refer to this list.

Alabama NewsCenter shares Mayor George Ward’s story

Many thanks to the Alabama NewsCenter division of Alabama Power for sharing the story of George Ward’s contributions to the City of Birmingham with their customers. In their interest of highlighting ”…entrepreneurs doing innovative things, communities that make our quality of life so much better, and people doing things both great and small that make all the difference”, Alabama NewsCenter is helping the Birmingham Historical Society spread the word about a soon to be released book on Birmingham Mayor George Ward’s contributions, entitled Birmingham: The City Beautiful, compliments of G. Ward.

The NewsCenter article includes several photos of parks (courtesy of the City of Birmingham Parks & Recreation Board) envisioned by Ward in the early 19th century that are still being used today. However, his best known park was his residence on Shades Crest Mountain in Vestavia which no longer exists, but is now memorialized by the Temple of Sibyl.

You’re invited to attend a talk about the book to be released November 1st, 2021 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The book may be purchased there or from the Birmingham Historical Society.

You’re Invited! Nov 1, 2021

Birmingham Historical Society
invites you to
An Evening in Honor of George B. Ward
Monday, November 1, 2021
7:00 p.m. Strange Auditorium
at
Birmingham Botanical Gardens
PROGRAM
By Marjorie White
SIGNING OF THE NEWLY RELEASED
Birmingham: The City Beautiful, Compliments of G. Ward
Published by the Society
with the financial support of
The Sterne-Agee Foundation
Members paid for 2021 may pick up their copy of the new release.
Books not picked up will be mailed following the meeting. Additional copies will be available for purchase for $30 (cash or check), both at the meeting and from Birmingham Historical Society, One Sloss Quarters, Birmingham, AL 35222.


INVITATION FRONT: Left, top to bottom: George Ward, Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, 1907; Birmingham City Hall (1901-1950); George Ward Park, 1901 Greensprings Avenue, Birmingham.
Center, top to bottom: The Relay House, the city’s first hotel and home to the Ward family, its proprietors (1871-1886); Cover, Birmingham: The City Beautiful booklet prepared and signed by Mayor G. Ward, 1908; View of Birmingham at the Red Mountain Gap, the city’s first protected viewshed, enacted 1929.
Right, top to bottom: George Ward, investment banker, builder of Vestavia, 1926; Ward’s Vestavia temple residence (1926-1971); Ward’s Temple of Sibyl (1929), as relocated to its park site on U.S. 31 at the entrance to today’s City of Vestavia Hills. Historic photographs courtesy Birmingham, Alabama Public Library Department of Archives and Manuscripts; color photographs courtesy Abraham Odrezin, 2020.

“George Ward was a most unusual and an unusually accomplished man with a significant legacy. Ward was alderman, mayor, and city commission president, an investment banker, a civic and community leader, a student and a reader, a writer, a lover of classics, a gentleman farmer, an idealist, sentimentalist, natu- ralist, conservationist, birder, and floriculturist, in short, a many-sided man of extraordinary ability.”
— Marjorie L. White, Author, Birmingham: The City Beautiful, Compliments of G. Ward


“Birmingham: The City Beautiful, Compliments of G. Ward is a fundamentally important contribution to the material available on our community. It places Birmingham in the City Beautiful Movement in the context of urban America. The document can also serve as a guide for citizens interested in becoming en- gaged in their community. It is a manual of civic participation. Three cheers.”
— Edward S. Lamonte, Retired Professor of History, Birmingham-Southern College, Former Chief of Staff to Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington Jr.


“Every man, woman, and child in Birmingham seems to be imbued with the city beautiful idea. I have never observed in any other city universal interest as is being manifested by the people in this city.”
— Warren Manning in “Manning Tells of Progress of Work-Talks to Commission of City Beautiful Plan,” Birmingham Ledger, November 19, 1914

(click HERE to purchase from Amazon)