Category Archives: Heritage Society

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)

Research, Publishing, & Education – Address Change

Birmingham has a very rich heritage and Birmingham Historical Society has been researching and publishing educational articles about Birmingham for 80 years. Established in 1942, the Society has published an impressive list of books about its neighborhoods, its origins, its industrial history, and its civil rights history among others.

Want to know more? Join us!

PLEASE NOTE OUR CHANGE OF MAILING ADDRESS:

P.O. Box 321474 BIRMINGHAM, AL 35232

SOCIETY PUBLICATIONS 1977-2021

  • 2021.  Birmingham: The City Beautiful, Compliments of G. Ward
  • 2020. The Birmingham District: An Industrial History and Guide (reprint of 1981 edition)
  • 2019. Pretty Posies, Powerful Healing: An Herbal Primer
  • 2019. Shades Creek: Flowing Through Time
  • 2018. Warren H. Manning’s City Plan for Birmingham, reprint of 1919 plan
  • 2016. Birmingham, 1915, reprint
  • 2016. For Science and Humanity: Building Southern Research
  • 2015. Bob Moody’s Birmingham: A City in Watercolor
  • 2014. Mountain Brook-A Historic American Landscape
  • 2013. MINUTES-Central Committee of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
  • 2012. The Jemison Magazine: Birmingham and Mountain Brook, 1926-1930, reprint of the magazines
  • 2011. The Jemison Magazine and The Selling of Birmingham, 1910-1914, reprint of the magazines
  • 2010. Digging Out of the Great Depression: Federal Programs At Work In and About the Birmingham Area
  • 2009. Mountain Brook Village: Then & Now
  • 2008. D.O. Whilldin: Alabama Architect
  • 2007. Hand Down Unharmed: Olmsted Files on Birmingham Parks: 1910-1925
  • 2006. The Olmsted Vision: Parks for Birmingham
  • 2005. A Park System for Birmingham, Olmsted Brothers, 1925, Reprint.
  • 2004. Art of the New South: Women Artists of Birmingham, 1890-1950
  • 2003. A Guide to Architectural Styles Featuring Birmingham Homes
  • 2001. Aspiration: Birmingham’s Historic Houses of Worship
  • 2001. A Pizella Affair: Portraits of the Comer Family
  • 1999. Walking Tours of Birmingham Churches Conducted from 1990-1999
  • 1999. Vive Vulcan! Activities for Schools
  • 1998. In Celebration of the Restoration of Alabama Power Company’s 1925 Tower
  • 1998. Low Virtues: The Value of Human Scale Architecture to Birmingham Urbanism
  • 1998. A Walk to Freedom-The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, 1956-1964
  • 1997. Birmingham Bound-An Atlas of the South’s Premier Industrial Region
  • 1996. Birmingham View: Through the Years in Photographs
  • 1995. Birmingham’s Vulcan, reprint 1938 booklet
  • 1995. Vulcan & His Times-A Tell all about Birmingham’s Most Famous Landmark
  • 1994. The Birmingham Industrial Heritage District Map
  • 1992. True Tales of Birmingham
  • 1991. Mountain Brook Estates, reprint of a 1926 publication
  • 1991. Judge Clarence Allgood: His Brother’s Keeper
  • 1990. Cinderella Stories, Transformations of Historic Birmingham Buildings
  • 1989. Designs on Birmingham: A Landscape History of a Southern City and its Suburbs
  • 1989. Buildings Against Cities: The Struggle to Make Places
  • 1988. House Detective: A Guide to Researching Birmingham Buildings
  • 1986. Image of the City, by Grady Clay
  • 1985. Go To Town, Birmingham: A Public Forum on a Vital City Center
  • 1984. Old Birmingham-New Architecture: Student Projects for a Historic Downtown Context
  • 1983. Five Points Heritage Hike and Patch
  • 1982. Town Within A City: The Five Points South Neighborhood, 1880-1930
  • 1981. The Birmingham District: An Industrial History and Guide
  • 1980. Birmingham Heritage Hike Guide and Patch
  • 1978. The Ghost in the Sloss Furnaces
  • 1978. Downtown Discovery Tour
  • 1978. Downtown Birmingham: Architectural and Historical Walking Tour Guide
  • 1977-1987. The Journal of the Birmingham Historical Society, 14 issues

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