Jemison Magazine: Birmingham and Mountain Brook


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BIRMINGHAM, AL–You can open any page of the new volume The Jemison Magazine: Birmingham and Mountain Brook, 1926-1930 and land on a fascinating fact or an insight into the evolving neighborhoods that shaped today’s city.

The Jemison volume traces the boom years of the 1920s as the city matured and prosperity allowed building of exceptional “country homes” amid forested beauty.

A companion book, released in November 2011, established the early history of industrial Birmingham (the arrival of US Steel and the emerging city center). Each step, each phase is told through the pages of The Jemison Magazine, a promotional piece published by the Jemison Company (founded 1903), to develop the city and its surrounding lands. Therefore, each magazine chronicles not only the growth during the period, but also the aspirations for the tone and character Birmingham would assume. A total of 16 magazines appear in the BHS book.

So what do you find when you randomly thumb through the Jemison Magazines? We came up with the following–and can assure that readers will dive even more deeply into the words and images written about–and during–the boom period.

  1. September 1927: “Model Country Estate.” This home, designed by Warren, Knight & Davis Architects, included landscape plans by noted designers. The promotional rendering of the site promises the lush and majestic residence that actually later emerged along Mountain Brook Parkway. The home and its six white columns still reign along the elegant stretch of road.
  2. January 1928: “The All-Electric House.” This innovative home was built as a show house on Canterbury Road to demonstrate that functional and magnificent residences with “modern appliances” could be constructed in the “country.” The show house was sponsored by the Alabama Electric League.
  3. August 1928: “Far Reaching Vistas on New Scenic Highway”. The scenic highway happens to be winding Cherokee Road, built at that time to snake through Mountain Brook. Six photos chronicle “unparalleled beauty unfolding before the eye as you traverse the mountainside.”
  4. January 1929: “Jemison & Company: Builders of Birmingham.” This story/promo launches the developer’s creed, borrowed from Daniel Webster, emphasizing that the land be utilized to “perform something worthy to be remembered.”
  5. April 1929: “Mountain Brook Village Is Ideal Community Shopping Center.” This story lists the village’s original businesses–from Martha Washington Candy Company to The Mountain Brook Riding Academy.

“This book is a fun read,” says Marjorie White, BHS Director, “It’s a story about a company that did everything right. The magazines were promotional, actually sales pieces to sell a new lifestyle and physical lots. Mountain Brook, at that time, was far out of town. Roads had to be built to get to homes that also needed to be built.

“In the end, Mountain Brook emerged as a exceptional residential community that remains so today due to the good infrastructure of the Jemison company’s investment. They talked about retaining natural beauty–and when you drive through Mountain Brook, that’s what you see.”

The Jemison Magazine: Birmingham and Mountain Brook, 1926-1930, a softbound, 192-page volume with more than 200 illustrations and a superb index.

Historical Research, Publishing, and Education