Birmingham's Special Places

Historic Sites and Collections Open to the Public

Major Visitor Destinations

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
520 16th Street North, Birmingham Civil Rights District, Jefferson County
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-5:00, Sunday 1:00-5:00, 205-328-9696
Located across the street from Kelly Ingram Park, adjacent to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in the Birmingham Civil Rights District, this impressive facility includes exhibits and archives documenting the contributions of African-Americans to the region’s and the nation’s civil and human rights history. Changing exhibitions focus on the life, history, and culture of people of African descent as well as human rights issues nationwide and globally.

Vulcan Statue and Park
Vulcan Park Foundation, P.O. Box 10127, Birmingham, 35203, 205-254-6020
20th Street South At Valley Avenue, on Red Mountain, Birmingham
This five-acre mountain park showcases the Vulcan statue on top of a tower observatory. The largest cast-iron statue in the world, the 56-foot-tall Vulcan represented the state of Alabama at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. The Bir-mingham city park includes an observation deck, exhibits, gardens, walkways, terraces and an abandoned red ore mine and mineral railroad. The newly formed Vulcan Park Foundation began a major restoration of the statue and park in 1999.
Brierfield Ironworks Historical State Park
Highway 25, 8 miles south of Montevallo, Bibb County
Open Monday-Sunday daylight to dark, 205-665-1856
The 45-acre wooded park includes the furnace ruins and other 19th-century structures. Purchased by the Confederate government during the Civil War, the furnace produced iron ideal for casting into munitions. During Reconstruction, former Confederate general and ordnance chief Josiah Gorgas rebuilt the furnace and operated a rolling mill and nailery in the nearby town of Brierfield.
McWane Center-Adventures in Science
210 -19th Street North, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00, Saturday 9:00-6:00, Sunday 12:00-5:00; tickets & reservations, 205-714-8314,
Located in and adjacent to the former Loveman Department Store Building, the McWane Center is billed as Alabama’s Twenty-First Century Science Center. The center is dedicated to promoting an understanding of science, technology and the environment. An IMAX Dome theater presents changing films.
Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum
Off Highway 25 on 9th Street, Calera, Shelby County
Open Monday-Saturday 9:00-4:00, Sunday 1:00-4:00, 205-668-3435,
The former Southern Railway Depot, moved from Wilton to this site, now houses railroad photographs and artifacts. On the museum grounds are historic rolling stock and an operating railroad yard. The abandoned right-of-way of the C&S Railroad, which extends 12 miles from the depot to the Shelby Ironworks, is to be developed for steam excursion rides.
Rickwood Field
1137 Second Ave. West, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Monday-Friday for special events; for reservations and Rickwood merchandise, call “Friends of Rickwood” 1-800-RICKWOOD, 205-458-8161
Constructed in 1910 as home to the Birmingham Barons and named for local iron baron Rick Woodward, Rickwood later became home field to the Birming-ham Black Barons, whose stars included Willie Mays and Satchel Paige. Today, the City of Birmingham owns Rickwood, and the Friends of Rickwood manage it. City school teams play ball in the now classic park where fans watch from the nation’s oldest baseball grandstand on its original site. The field also plays host to the Annual Rickwood Classic, movie filmings and other events.
Ruffner Mountain Nature Center
1214- 81st Street South, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00-5:00, Sunday 1:00-5:00, 205-833-8265
This 1,000-acre nature preserve is the site of ore mines and limestone quarries which fed the Sloss City Furnaces from the 1880s to the 1950s. Today, the preserve and interpretive center offer beautiful wooded trails, industrial ruins, and outstanding views of the city. As part of the Southern Appalachian Eco-Region, Ruffner provides habitat for hundreds of species of plants and animals.
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
1530 Sixth Avenue North, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Tuesday-Friday 10:00-4:00, Saturdays by appointment only; 205-251-9402
Designed and constructed by African-Americans, this impressive Beaux-Arts church with twin towers and dome served as headquarters for civil rights meetings and marches during the spring of 1963 and was the site of a tragic bombing on September 15, 1963.
Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark
Second Avenue North and 32nd Street, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-4:00, Sunday 12:00-4:00, guided tours at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 Saturday and Sunday, 205-324-1911
This 32-acre site, within a stone’s throw of the Birmingham city center, interprets the ironmaking process, the principal economic activity in the Birmingham district. The furnaces were active until 1971. Now a museum of the City of Birmingham and an international center for the pouring and smithing of metals, Sloss includes two early-20th-century steel-jacketed furnaces, ancillary structures and interpretive facilities.
Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama

12632 Confederate Parkway, McCalla, Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, and Bibb Counties
Park open all week from 7:00 am until sunset. Museum open Monday-Friday 9:00-5:00, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-5:00, 205-477-5711
This 1,500-acre park contains antebellum and Civil War sites, including three stone furnaces which provided iron for Confederate armament. The park also features several 19th-century buildings which have been moved to the site; recreational grounds for camping, picknicking, hiking, horseback riding, and scouting; a railroad; and the Iron and Steel Museum of Alabama. The museum traces area history, focusing on the development of early-nineteenth-century ironworks and their subsequent destruction by federal troops during the Civil War.
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Historic Homes

A. M. Brown House
319 4th Terrace North, Smithfield Neighborhood, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open by appointment for tours and events, call Wannita Vann, Birmingham Art Club, Inc., 205-323-3010
Built in 1906 for a prominent African-American physician, Arthur McKimmon Brown, the remarkably intact Craftsman style cottage features its Wallace A. Rayfield design and Brown’s original, turn-of-the-century furnishings. The Birmingham Art Club and the A. M. Brown Memorial Community Center own and operate the house.
Arlington Antebellum Home and Gardens
331 Cotton Avenue SW, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Tuesday-Saturday 10:00-4:00, Sunday 1:00-4:00, 205-780-5656
Built in the mid-19th century for prominent Judge William Mudd and set on a prosperous farm, Arlington served as the Civil War headquarters for federal troops dispatched to destroy ironworks in the state. Later the home of Robert S. Munger, a major manufacturer of cotton gins, the classically styled residence now houses impressive decorative arts collections.
Samuel Ullman-Morris Newfield House
2150-15th Avenue South, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open by appointment, call Margaret Armbrester, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), 205-934-5634
Samuel Ullman, German immigrant and merchant, was a progressive civic leader in early Birmingham. Years ahead of his time, he pushed for equivalent education for women and blacks and for labor reform. At the dining room table of his daughter’s residence, 70-year-old Samuel Ullman penned “Youth,” a poem that has inspired generations, including United States General Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander in post World War II Japan. “Youth” has remained popular, indeed, revered, especially in Japan. Japanese and Birmingham citizens raised funds to restore this house and honor Ullman’s legacy.
William Cook House
Highway 11, Nauvoo, Walker County
Open by Appointment & for Private Parties, 205-697-5792
In 1900, Scottish immigrant William Cook designed and built this two-story classically styled homestead, which still includes outbuildings and the railway bed to Cook’s adjacent coal mine. The house retains its large open porches and the furnishings acquired by several generations of the Cook family. Special festivities are held during the annual “Christmas in Nauvoo” celebration.
King House
University of Montevallo Campus, Montevallo, Shelby County
Open by appointment, Ms. Marion Brown, President’s Office, 205-665-6292
Built in 1823, this two-story brick residence is associated with planter and businessman Edmund King, who financed the earliest Birmingham district ironworks. In 1820, King built a water-powered forge on Shoal Creek, a tributary of the Cahaba River, to provide iron for area farms. King’s “Mansion House,” later home to the Shortridge, French, and Nabors families, has served as an infirmary, home economics building, classroom, and guest cottage for the educational institution located on King’s original plantation lands.
Corry House
Old York Heritage Park
Highway 69, Oakman, Walker County
This heritage park recreates the 1880s mining boom era when Oakman, established in 1848 and originally called “York,” was the trade center of Walker County. Reconstructions surround the 1852 home of the Corry family, who engaged in farming, timbering and coal mining on the homestead lands.
Owen House
Eastern Valley Road, Bessemer, Jefferson County
Open at Christmastime and by appointment, 205-491-5543
In the 1830s, Thomas Hennington Owen built this Georgian-style farmhouse, one of three plantation properties remaining in a scenic agricultural setting along Eastern Valley Road. During the Civil War, Owen operated a nearby forge to provide iron for Confederate armament.
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Historic Cemeteries

Oak Hill Cemetery, est. 1871.
1120 19th Street North, Birmingham. Tours available by prior arrangement. 205-251-6532
Established with Birmingham in 1871 as the “City Cemetery,” this cemetery, now adjacent to the Civic Center, contains the final resting place of early city fathers, mayors, Confederate and Union veterans and freed slaves. The forested park includes fine late 19th and early 20th century statuary, mausoleums and a chapel.
Elmwood Cemetery, est. 1906.
600 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Birmingham, open Monday-Friday 8:00-5:00, Saturday 9:00-1:00, 205-251-3114
Fraternal Cemetery, est. 1880s
Crest of Sheridan Road, Irish Hill, Pratt City
Includes graves of English, Scottish and German immigrants who worked in the Pratt coal mines and other early 20th century industrial operations in this area
Greenwood Cemetery
Messer-Airport Highway, Birmingham
Includes graves of the youths killed in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, 1963
Oakland Cemetery
1300 Warrior Road, Ensley, open daylight hours, 205-785-8143
Includes graves of early 20th century Italian immigrants
Shadow Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery
1600 12th Street SW, Birmingham, 205-942-6958

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Special Collections

Alabama Mining Museum
120 East Street, Dora, Walker County
Open Tuesday-Friday 8:30-4:00, Saturday 10:00-12:00, 205-648-2442.
Established in 1984, this state-supported mining museum tells the technological and human stories of Alabama’s development as a major coal-mining region. Collections, housed in a former WPA-school gymnasium situated on a 10-acre site, include photographs, artifacts, large-scale mining equipment and a one-room school house used for educational programs. Site resources also include a post office and train depot.
Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
2150 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open Monday-Saturday 9:00-5:00, 205-323-6665, Admission.
More than 4,000 pieces of memorabilia tell the stories of Alabama sports greats including Paul “Bear” Bryant, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
Carver Theater

1631 Fourth Avenue North, Birmingham, Jefferson County
Open 10:00-5:00 Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday 1:00-5:00, 205-254-2731
Here Jazz greats jam forever. Memorabilia and music bring alive the city’s musical sound through exhibits, performances and lessons. Visitors will learn of Alabama jazz artists who played with Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington, and of Ella Fitzgerald, an honorary Alabamian, who left her gowns and recordings to the Hall.
Aldrich Coal Mining Museum
137 Highway 203, Aldrich, near Montevallo, Shelby County
Open Sunday 1:00-5:00 or by appointment, 205-665-2886
In 1872, New York native Truman Aldrich acquired the Montevallo Mining Company and began mining at Aldrich. His brother William Farrington Aldrich and wife lived at Aldrich, managing the works and the town until William sold his part of the mine to Truman in 1905. Mining continued until 1942. The mining community structures remain as do Aldrich historian Henry Emfinger’s photograph and artifact collections, now displayed in the former commissary.
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
6030 Barber Motorsports Parkway, Birmingham. Closed major holidays. Admission, 205-699-7275
Dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and exhibition of motorcycles and motorsports, including museum displays of more than 300 motorcycles, a race shop and restoration facilities, and a road-racing track.
Bessemer Hall of History Museum
1905 Alabama Avenue, Bessemer, Jefferson County
Open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00-4:00;
205-426-1633 Special events and theatrical performances
This finely appointed Craftsman-style railroad depot testifies to the prosperity of Bessemer in the early 20th century. The former Southern Railway passenger station now serves as a local history museum.
Historic Fourth Avenue Visitor Center
319 17th Street North, 205-328-1850
Open Monday-Friday, 9:00-4:30
Photographs and a slide presentation tell stories of the Fourth Avenue district: a commercial, social and cultural center for African-Americans since the early years of the 20th century.
Shelby County Courthouse Museum & Archives
Main Street, Columbiana, Shelby County
1854 Old Courthouse, P.O. Box 457, Columbiana, AL, 35051-0457
Open Monday-Saturday 9:00-3:00, 205-669-3912
Shelby County’s 1854 courthouse serves as the Shelby County Historical Society’s museum. Collections include county records (including wills, divorce and other probate and circuit court papers) prior to 1915 and artifacts of area industrial history dating to the Civil War.
Shelby Ironworks
Highway 42, Shelby County
Open for Spring & Fall Festivals
Museum in the Old Post Office
The Historic Shelby Association is developing this major industrial site which tells the story of the charcoal iron industry from the 1840s to World War I. The 520-acre site includes the 1861 foundations of Alabama’s first rolling mill, other structures, foundations, transportation systems, former brown ore mining pits (now lakes) and community buildings, including the 1901 Shelby Hotel.

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Temporary Closings

Red Mountain Cut and Geological Walkway
1422 22nd Street South, east of Highway 280, Birmingham
Officially designated a National Natural Landmark, this highway cut exposes 160 million years of geological history and reveals the Birmingham district’s mineral resources. A walkway along the eastern side of the cut serves as an open-air exhibit. The McWane Center, a privately managed science center, operates the interpretive facilities at the cut.

Research Collections

Birmingham Public Library (BPL)
2100 Park Place, Birmingham, 35203-2794
Historical Collections in the Tutwiler-Southern History Collection and the Department of Archives & Manuscripts (Archives) housed in the Linn-Henley Research Library
Tutwiler Collection of Southern History
First Floor, Linn-Henley Library, Research
Collections Open to Public: Mondays & Tuesdays, 9:00-8:00; Wednesdays-Saturdays, 9:00.- 6:00.; Sundays, 2:00-6:00, 205-226-3665; fax 205-226-3663
The Tutwiler Collection-Southern History contains print volumes, rare books, microfilm and maps with concentrations in local, Alabama, Civil War and Reconstruction and African-American history, as well as U. S. censuses from 1790 to 1920 and military records from the Colonial through the Civil War.
Basement, Linn-Henley Library. Open to the Public: Mondays-Fridays: 9:00-6:00, with advance notification research materials can be placed with librarians in Southern History for weekend use, 205-226-3630; fax 205-226-3663
Archives preserves primary resource material relating to the history of Birming-ham, Jefferson County, and the north central Alabama region. Materials include manuscripts, records, publications, maps and more than 200,000 photographs. Its strongest areas are local and visual history. Included in the collection are municipal and country records, records of corporations, churches and civic organizations, personal papers of politicians, businessman and community leaders, and audiovisual materials documenting the political, social, economic, and physical development of the region.
Other Library Services:
Books for Sale, Genealogical Books for Sale, lists & prices, BPL Tutwiler Collection, 205- 226-3665.

Genealogical Researchers for hire, list, BPL Tutwiler Collection, 205-226-3665. Genealogic Searches

Historical Photographs for Sale: black and white and color prints, negatives, digital scans to diskettes and paper, one-two week processing time required, Don Veasey, Curator of Photography, BPL Archives, 205-226-3632.

Historical Researchers for hire, BPL list, Archives, 205-226-3630.

For obituaries, click HERE

Micro-forms Center, BPL Government Documents, submit requests in writing or online through Ask a Librarian service

Responses to Written Patron Research Questions. Tutwiler Collection staff will respond to clearly specified requests (i.e. Please send me a copy of page 119 of a certain publication.) for photocopy and postage charges. Submit requests in writing
Shelby County Historical Society-Museum & Archives
1854 Old Courthouse, Columbiana, AL. 205-669-3912
Open 9:00-3:00, Monday-Saturday
Opened in 1982 in the restored courthouse, the Society’s collections include wills, divorce, other probate and circuit court papers and county records prior to 1915, marriage records from 1824-1980, state censuses from 1820-1920 (indexed for Shelby County), local newspapers dating to 1857, a roster of the entire Confederate army, 1861-1865 and other histories.
Books for Sale and Applications for Membership, Shelby County Historical Soceity, Inc., 1854 Old Courthouse, P. O. Box 457, Columbiana, AL, 35051-0457, 205-669-3912

Jefferson County Probate
Court Records
Jefferson County Court House
716 Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard North, Birmingham
Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:45, 205-325-5513
The Jefferson County Probate Court Records contain documents for all Jef-ferson County property transactions from 1818 to the present with one important exception. Probate court records for the Bessemer area filed after 1916 are located in the Bessemer Court House. There are two types of probate documents, or instruments. Those which are property-related (warranty deeds, mortgages, quit claims and lien records, etc.) record transfer of real property, or land, from seller to buyer. The other type are judicial records (estate records, name changes, legitimations) which, generally speaking, document transactions between people, and may or may not involve property transfer. To use either type of document, one must know both the exact names of the parties involved and the approximate date on which the transaction was recorded in the probate court.
Survey/Subdivision Maps. When a piece of property in Jefferson County is surveyed and subsequently subdivided, a map of the section showing lot division is filed in the probate court. Both the maps and the index to them are stored in the Probate Record Room. There are more than 140 volumes of maps dating from 1883 to the present.
Alabama Tract Book. There is an index of federal land grants to Jefferson County dating from 1819. The federal government made grants of land to repay military service, to homesteaders and to those who paid for a particular tract (cash certificates).

Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation
2200 Woodcrest Pl., Birmingham, 35209
Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:30, 205-868-1000
This is a firm which sells title insurance on property and performs title searches in advance of issuing the insurance. They have an index to and copies of most of the instruments (deeds, mortgages, wills, liens, etc.) recorded in the Jefferson County Probate Court. Lawyers Title records date back to U. S. land grants. Using their information, one can construct a chain of title for a property. Lawyers Title generally charges for its services.

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Historical Research, Publishing, and Education