An interstate exchange is causing concern to Birmingham Historical Society members because of its impact upon the historic Brock’s Gap. A major mining area and a landmark of Birmingham’s founding, the nineteenth century site is currently a unique educational resource as well as a beautiful green space and nature trail. The hope is that interstate developers will consider not only traffic concerns but also the historic value of this site in their planning. For more information, please refer to this post.
Autumn Bracey with CBS News covers the story, interviewing Hoover Councilman, John Lyda, and Birmingham Historical Society Director, Marjorie White.
Death is not frightening, according to Birmingham Historical Society Trustee Wilhelmina Thomas, who leads tours through the historic Oak Hill Cemetery. She is among a number of volunteers who dress in period costumes and portray a deceased character buried there. Ms. Thomas brings to life the stories of Birmingham’s founders, politicians, and civil rights leaders. But she particularly likes to draw attention to the black elitists who are buried there as they are often overlooked in Birmingham’s history.
“The majority of the Black people in the cemetery were business owners, pastors, and started churches,” Wilhelmina explained. “When we’re looking at the Black people buried at Oak Hill, in the late 19th century, they’d have been the elitist. They were defined by the color of their skin and by how much money they had. The Black people who are buried there were very well educated, spoke more than one language, and were trying to build a community.”
In researching and telling the stories of residents buried there, Wilhelmina Thomas has become a compassionate voice of black history, and along with other volunteers, keeps Oak Hill residents ‘alive’.
Volunteers lead walking tours on the second Saturday of every month. Learn more and get tickets on Oak Hill’s website.
It’s rewarding when the efforts of Birmingham Historical Society trustees to preserve a first-class historical site are not only recognized, but seriously considered by city leaders and developers in urban planning. Thanks to the research and site visits of BHS Director Marjorie White, and BHS Trustee and Hoover resident Birgit Kilbeka, plans for a 4 mile parkway that could potentially destroy the landmark Brock’s Gap are now being debated. This article in The Hoover Sun by Jon Anderson highlights the importance of what is being proposed.
Thank you to Birmingham Historical Society Trustees for bringing historical sites to the attention of developers. And thank you to developers and city planners for listening and responding to these concerns!
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.