Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Birmingham Photo of the Day (64): Medical Alumni Building

As you drive along 20th Street in Birmingham, through the UAB campus on your way to Five Points South, this building will be on your left as you start up the hill. Don't blink or you'll miss this little concrete Art Deco gem. In my years at UAB I always heard it referred to as the Medical Alumni building. Let's investigate.

The structure was designed by architect David Willdin for the Brown-Service Funeral HomeWilldin designed many buildings in Birmingham, Gadsden and Tuscaloosa in a career that lasted from 1902 until 1961. His projects included Legion Field, the Thomas Jefferson Hotel and Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa.

In 1946 Liberty National Life Insurance bought the funeral home and sold the building to Dr. Roy Curtis Green who relocated his office. Green was born in Alabama in November 1904, attended Howard College [now Samford University] and graduated from Tulane University medical school in 1930. He completed an internship at Hillman Hospital and received his medical license in Alabama in the same year. In 1933 he married Miriam C. Walker.

I found him listed in various years of the American Medical Directory. By 1934 he had an office at 5357 1st Avenue North where it remained until he moved to this building at 811 South 20th Street. Green retired in 1981 and died in November 1990.

The University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association purchased the building in 1981, and a year of renovations followed. The location provided not only offices but meeting and banquet rooms and a library. I seem to remember going to a committee meeting of some sort there long ago but don't remember anything specific about the interior. The alumni group vacated the building around 2014. The structure is now the home of the Rose Law Firm

Art Deco architecture in the United States is often associated with such huge projects as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center in New York City. The style was also used for many government buildings, movie theaters, train stations and diners. Many consumer products such as automobiles and radios also adopted the sleek, futuristic design during the 1920's and 1930's. So Birmingham still has its own little piece of Art Deco near UAB. 

Here's the building as it looked in February 2018 with the Rose Law Firm sign. The white plaque on the right of the front door notes the historical designation by the Jefferson County Historical Commission

A slightly different view of the building in 2009 is available on the BhamWiki site.

Roy Curtis Green in 1925


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