Category Archives: Historic Preservation

Celebrating 150 Years of Religious & Civic Growth: A Panel Discussion

“Sacred Spaces, Civic Places,
and the Building of a Magic City”

February 27, 2022
3:00PM to 4:30PM
First United Methodist Church Sanctuary
518 19th Street North
Birmingham, AL 35203

Panelists:

  • Pam King, Assistant Professor of History and Historic Preservation, UAB Dept of History (retired)
  • Jim Baggett, Head, Archives Department, Birmingham Public Library
  • Barry McNealy, Historical Content Expert, Birmingham Civil RIghts Institute & Sixteenth Street Baptist Church Historian

Participating Congregations:

  • St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 1869
  • First United Methodist Church, 1872
  • Cathedral Church of theAdvent, 1872
  • First Presbyterian Church, 1872
  • The Cathedral of St. Paul, 1872
  • First Baptist Church, 1872
  • Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, 1873
  • Temple Emanu-EL, 1882

This event is free and open to the public and childcare will be available


In 1871 the City of Birmingham was incorporated by the Elyton Land Company on farmland that would soon be the juncture of two major railroads. The location had everything – coal, iron ore and limestone, all necessary for the soon to be thriving industrial city.

At that time, there existed an African-American Methodist congregation that, according to church records, began meeting in tents in 1869. In 1872 Elyton gave five land grants to establish houses of worship for white congregants of five major denominations – Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, United Methodist and Baptist.

In 1873 the first Black Baptist church was established downtown. Then in 1882 the first temple was built for the growing Jewish community. These eight congregations comprise Birmingham’s earliest houses of worship, and they are still thriving today and have over a hundred years of sacred and civic commitment to the Magic City..

View the reprint of the 1997 newsletter with MAP here