Category Archives: Birmingham Landmarks

Celebrating a NEW/OLD (1924) Location: We have MOVED after 37 years!

An historic 1924 apartment building on Highland Avenue is our NEW/OLD location! Birmingham Historical Society members and volunteers have been slowly moving 37 years of research documents and publications from The Duncan House at Sloss Quarters to 2827 Highland Avenue on Birmingham’s Southside.

Many thanks in particular to Pat & Ehney Camp, The Camp Foundation, BHS President Wayne Hester, Regina & Blue Ammon, Gerry Waters, Carol Slaughter, Carol Ogle and Marjorie White for making this vision a reality.

Read more about the interesting history of our new location in September’s newsletter HERE. Our mailing address remains P.O. Box 321474/Birmingham, AL 35232.

Help Save Shades Mountain with the SOUND of MUSIC!

Friends of Shades Mountain
are sponsoring a Benefit Concert
at Wild Roast Cafe in Bluff Park,
featuring great live folk, mountain,
and classical guitar music,
as well as original songs
by the President of the Birmingham Music Club

Sunday, September 11th, 6:00PM

Click image to download & print pdf invitation

The Birmingham Historical Society continues to research the historic importance of Shades Mountain and Shades Creek to our community with recent attention focused on Brock’s Gap, and the publication of Shades Creek–Flowing Through Time. But the Friends of Shades Mountain also want to preserve it for the benefits it provides all of us NOW including:

  • The forest protects homeowners below from erosion, mudslides and damaging storm water runoff.
  • It helps keep the water and air in the county clean.
  • By providing visual screening, the forest enhances property values in the valley below and the ridge above the mountain.
  • It provides habitat for many plant and animal species, some rarely seen in other parts of the county and state.
  • It is an aesthetic value in itself, providing a lush green landscape that cools the eye of everyone coming around, over and under its forest canopy.
  • It helps protect Shades Creek, already imperiled by previous development.
  • The forests along this mountain help to keep homes cooler by reducing the effects of hot, humid summer days. In the winter, the forest provides wind brakes that cut heating costs.
  • The forest cover saves the county an estimated $1,500,000 per year by reducing air pollution and storm water runoff.

You can HELP by buying tickets or donating if you can’t attend.

We are MOVING!

Please note our change of location to: 2827 Highland Avenue/Birmingham, AL 35205. At this time, the BHS business office is open ONLY for scheduled meetings and appointments, and our mailing address remains unchanged at P.O. Box 321474/Birmingham, AL 35232. When our ongoing renovations are completed, a formal opening will be announced.

We LOVE our historic Highland Avenue neighborhood!

A big thanks to all those who made this move possible including John Lauriello of Southpace Properties, architect and BHS Trustee Wayne Hester, and The Ehney Camp Foundation.

Take me out to the OLDEST ballpark 🎵🎶

America’s oldest ballpark right here in Birmingham

Lifetime and passionate baseball fan and writer, Sean Dietrich, aka Sean of the South, recently discovered Rickwood Field, America’s oldest ballpark, and brings it to life for us with THIS colorful description. One of our favorite Southern writers, he really loves the game and frequently explains why in his daily column. Don’t miss his article, “The Old Ballgame”. So after attending a travel game here, Sean toured the facility with Friends of Rickwood volunteer Randy Ferguson, who told him,

“Sad thing is, you’d be surprised how many folks in Birmingham have never heard of Rickwood Field….Tell everyone you know to come visit us.”

Birmingham Historical Society board member Tom Cosby reminds us that just as the Friends of Rickwood were getting started 30 years ago, the Birmingham Historical Society, through the efforts of Marjorie White, got HABS/HAER (the Historic American Building Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record) to visit Birmingham and fully document the unassailable fact that Rickwood Field was, indeed, the oldest baseball park in America.

Local artist Terry Slaughter took those measured HABS drawings, colored them, and turned them into the promotional rendering that kick started the preservation of Rickwood. And with those efforts, the Friends of Rickwood have been able to effectively raise just enough money to help save (so far) this ancient and historic ballpark — a ballpark where such American legends as Willie Mays, Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson once played.

So we’re repeating the words of Randy, as recorded by Sean Dietrich:

“The best thing anyone can do is tell your friends about this place. Don’t let history die. Tell everyone you know to come visit us.”

Thank you Sean, for spreading the word!

Heritage Society enjoys the Bush-Hill-Cooley Home

One of the most anticipated Birmingham Historical Society events each year is the annual Heritage Society party. It often features one of Birmingham’s most magnificent historic mansions and this year was no exception, with the Bush-Hill-Cooley residence.

Bush-Hill-Cooley Heritage Society Party 2022. Photo: Louise McPhillips

Local architectural firm, Warren, Knight, & Davis, was hired by Morris Bush soon after his marriage in 1920 to design a proper English manor house on top of the mountain on a large lot in a subdivision developed by Jemison & Co. The widely-respected firm designed a Tudor Revival style residence of smooth-face, random-laid Indiana limestone with steep roofs, gables, large chimneys, and surrounded by substantial gardens in keeping with the examples established by King Henry VIII (Henry Tudor) after the reformation.

Morris Bush (age 48) moved his bride Margaret Gage Bush (age 33) to the magnificent residence in 1928. Following subsequent funerals for both of her parents, his mother, and their next door neighbor, finally good news! Their beloved daughter, Gage, was born in 1931, but sadly, the following year, Morris Bush died of a massive heart attack. Margaret couldn’t bear to stay in the house after all that unhappiness and moved in 1934.

James Hill, president of the local Hill Grocery Co., his wife Rena McMurray Hill, with their son Delmar, purchased the estate in 1934 from Margaret Bush and they would live there for the next 30 years, followed by Rena and her sister, for the next decade. The Hill family thrived despite the Depression due to their ’shop local’ philosophy, positioning a neighborhood grocery store within walking distance of many households as well as their support of ‘cash and carry’ (including script issued by local industrial firms).

After Ed Craig, and then Lanny & Brenda Vines lived there, Tammie & Jim Dandy Cooley purchased the estate in 2015. They’ve enjoyed working with architect Hank Long of Henry Sprott Long & Associates to renovate the home and restore the features and plantings of the surrounding gardens.

”Three years on the inside and then three years on the outside” as Tammie Cooley describes the couple’s ongoing love affair with the residence and its gardens. As Jim Dandy adds, ”we see ourselves as the current stewards of this timeless place.”

Much appreciation to the Cooley family for sharing the rich history and their labor of love with the Heritage Society this year!

(Interested in the Heritage Society? Here’s how to join)