Grandmother’s Garden at Sloss

This Facebook video created by Lisa Jones of Jefferson County – Alabama Extension – shares details surrounding the beginning and evolution of Grandmother’s Garden at Birmingham Historical Society’s headquarters at Sloss Quarters. Narrated in part by BHS Director, Marjorie White, the video also pays tribute to retiring longtime Urban Regional Jefferson County extension agent, Sallie Lee, as well as master gardener volunteers who have helped plant and maintain the garden since its beginnings fifteen years ago.

For a look at some of the native plant materials included in the garden, please refer to BHS publication, Pretty Posies, Healing Powers –An Herbal Primer

This Old House Research

The research volunteers at Birmingham Historical Society are committed to providing education not only about Birmingham’s history, but generic information that’s useful to everyone. So BHS was delighted to hear from a youth services librarian and educator at G.A.T.E. DENVER CHILDREN’S COALITION who was able to use our online resources and educational programs for a virtual beginner research class over the past several months.

In return, she provided us with a helpful link her students had also been using entitled GUIDE TO RESEARCHING THE HISTORY OF A HOUSE which is helpful to anyone who has an interest in learning about family history or their home. Thank you to the students of G.A.T.E. for providing us with this link that has now been added to our list of resources!

And thank you for sharing your mission statement, “Learning doesn’t begin and end at the classroom door. The world is a classroom.” You are on your way to becoming lifelong researchers!

Altamont – A Portion of Red Mountain and its Park

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. Or click image below to order a copy.

Coming Soon – Tour of Avondale Churches

POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE DUE TO COVID-19

Historic Houses of Worship: Avondale
A Walking and Driving Tour
Led by David R. Bains, PhD
Sunday, April 5, 2020, 1:30-4:00 p.m.

Several Avondale churches built in the 1880’s still remain and have been joined by others in this thriving residential community established in 1884. See the map below for the houses of worship included on the tour led by Samford University’s professor in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies.

And the Winner Is….

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.”

Putting the Past to Use for the Future