Long time residents of Birmingham know that the Altamont ridge has one of the best views in the city, a forested overlook perched 400 feet above Jones Valley.
But did you know that Boston architect, George H. Miller, originally created a plan for the Altamont ridge in 1911, specifically providing for both public and private forested views? In fact, the guiding principal, reiterated in an interview by City Forester Hugh Sloss in 1931, was that:
“Altamont Park was intended to remain a natural, forested green space, enhanced only by selective cleaning and pruning. It was conceived as a neighborhood park, whereas Altamont Road, one link in an imagined longer parkway, was meant for the enjoyment of all of Birmingham’s citizens and visitors. Furthermore, preserving as much vegetation as possible on the north face of Red Mountain allows the City of Birmingham to retain its most notable and defining natural feature.”
Read the entire history in Birmingham Historical Society’s latest publication, Altamont – A Portion of Red Mountain and Its Park. (Print copies will be available at a later date.)
The annual BHS cake/pie competition was a huge success with eighteen entries and just one more cake than there were pies. Oh my! It was hard to choose! There were pound cakes, there were tea cakes, chocolate, caramel, and even a büche de noel. The stories behind them were as good as the cakes! But the clear winner was Don Sweeney’s “Friendship Cake” – a cake which takes 50 days to make – and which was first presented during the Civil Rights Era and over 200 times since then, personally baked by Don himself!
According to Carolanne,
“It was introduced to his family by Gertrude who had worked with the family for years before requesting “time off” to go participate in the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham—she became known as the Rosa Parks of Rosedale for her mighty works. Don Sweeney’s dad had assured Gertrude that her job would await her and, in gratitude, she made this cake for the family. She must’ve also shared the recipe because Don has made it more than 200 times over the years since. It begins with a starter of fruits, sugar, and brandy which (I believe) must be tended to daily for about 3 weeks..then come other steps before the final baking. It was picture perfect in presentation—and wow’d the judge before he even knew about the process or the backstory.”