Monday, July 30, 2018

Alabama Photos of the Day: Samford Hall at Auburn University

Auburn University's most iconic building is Samford Hall and its tower. The original building on the site, a four-story structure known as "Old Main", served the East Alabama Male College [Auburn's original name] from 1859 until it burned in June 1887. The current structure was built over the following couple of years and was also known as "Old Main". In May 1929 the building was named for Governor William Samford. After many interior changes over the years, Samford Hall is used today for administrative offices.

Below is a small selection of Samford Hall images and some comments. You can see many more via Alabama Mosaic

Samford Hall sometime ca. 1940. My parents were at Auburn in the late 1940's, so Samford may have looked similar to this view.

The building to be known decades later as Samford Hall under construction ca. 1888

Source: Alabama Mosaic

This postcard from around 1930 gives the original name for the building, "Main".

The bell in Samford rang on the hour for class change for many years, but has since been replaced by an electric clock. The bell remains in the tower.

Auburn University faculty in front of the "new" Old Main in 1914. Their identities can be found at the source page.

These two photos were taken at winter graduation in December 2009. A couple of clowns are blocking the view in the one below. Wait--that's my daughter Becca and soon-to-be-son-in-law Matt Leon! Becca continued the family tradition of meeting a future spouse at Auburn just as my parents and Dianne and I did. Perhaps our new grandson Ezra Jasper Leon will do the same!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Birmingham Photos of the Day (65): Roberts Field

Roberts Field was the city's main airport from 1922 until 1935 when the Birmingham Municipal Airport opened. The hanger buildings seen below were located near what is now Roberts Industrial Drive and I-20/59. The airport was dedicated in June 1922 as the base for the 135th Observation Squadron [later the 114th] of the Alabama National Guard. Commercial passenger service began from Roberts Field in May 1928. The airport continued in use for a couple of decades after the city's airport opened. Industrial development of the site began in the 1960's.

A Navy Zeppelin, the Shenandoah, landed at Roberts in 1924--the year before its destruction in Ohio. Three years later Charles Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis spent two days there. The BhamWiki site has a good overview of the history of Roberts Field. The resource Abandoned & Little Known Airfields: Alabama has extensive information, photos & maps related to Roberts Field. 

Roberts Field was named for Lt. Arthur Meredyth Roberts, who was killed in a training accident in France in World War I on October 18, 1918. He grew up in Birmingham and returned to the city after receiving his engineering degree from Cornell University. Roberts volunteered for service in August 1917. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Hangers at Roberts Field ca. 1925

Source: BhamWiki

Interior of the mess hall at Roberts Field ca. 1925
Two African American employees can be seen in the background.

Lt. Arthur Meredyth Roberts [1889-1918]

Source: Find-A-Grave

Thursday, July 19, 2018

A Visit to Bellingrath Gardens

Bellingrath Gardens and Home near Theodore in Mobile County is one of Alabama's major tourist attractions. The "Only in Your State" web site lists Bellingrath as #5 on its list of "10 Places in Alabama You Must See Before You Die." The 65 acres of developed gardens and the home of Walter and Bessie Bellingrath were opened to the public on April 7, 1932. Walter was an early Coca-Cola distributor in the South, and his wealth enabled the couple to build their home and create the gardens on the property. 

Walter bought some 900 acres along the Fowl River in 1917 as a site for his fishing camp. Bessie began developing the gardens with an architect in 1927, and the large home was completed in 1935. The architect of both projects was George Bigelow Rogers who also designed numerous churches, public buildings and private residences in Mobile before his death in 1945. The Bellingrath home opened as a museum in 1956, the year after Walter's death. Bessie had died in 1943. 

More about Bellingrath can be found here and here. Many historic photographs and postcards related to the Bellingraths and their home and gardens can be found here.

Tens of thousands of visitors tour Bellingrath each year. In March Dianne and i became two of those on a beautiful Friday morning. No signs remain of the devastation caused by Hurricane Frederick in September 1979. Photos and some comments are below. We did not tour the home; perhaps next time!

We missed the peak of the azaleas but a few pretty ones were left. 

Dianne loves her orchids and was happy to see so many at Bellingrath. 

There are a number of great views along the paths, and various events are held in the Gardens throughout the year. 

Ah, the gorgeous delphine! 

Water is a big part of the Gardens.

The hydrangeas were looking good.  

The Gardens & Home are along the Fowl River.

A nice grove of bamboo grows along the path around the small lake seen below. 

A very interesting section is the bayou preserve which has a long boardwalk around much of it and numerous interpretive signs.

Dianne found a kitty cat!

Entrance to the Asian-American Garden

Edward Marshall Boehm was an American sculptor in porcelain who died in 1969. His works are in more than 130 permanent collections around the world, including the White House, the Vatican, Buckingham Palace and the Hermitage in Moscow. One of those locations is Bellingrath Gardens. Boehm specialized in birds and other wildlife. A few of his creations are seen below; many more are located at the Delchamps Gallery. 

Walter and Bessie Bellingrath on July 18, 1938

The plaque between them was donated by the citizens of Mobile in recognition of their work. The photo is signed by the couple. 

Source: Alabama Mosaic

On our way to Bellingrath we passed this chapel across the street from the First Baptist Church of Theodore. As the sign notes, it was built around 1907.

Monday, July 16, 2018

UAB Continues to Expand

Big news, right? When I started work at UAB in August 1983, I soon noticed  new construction and mentioned it to someone. That person's response? "Get used to it. It never stops." That observation was certainly true until I retired in December 2015 and continues to be the case. I can understand why the initials "UAB" are often said to stand for the "University that Ate Birmingham." 
UAB recently announced plans to demolish seven campus buildings over the next year to make way for future projects. The university had previously announced eventual demolition plans for an eighth building. Let's investigate.

Worrell Building – 924 18th Street South

This building opened in 1960 as the Doctor's Center where a number of physicians and dentists had offices. The BhamWiki article on the structure has a tenants' list and gives this description: "The modern curtain-wall building with exposed concrete frame and cantilevering floor slabs contained four doctor's suites on each floor, with the ground floor opened up for valet parking service. Construction of the building cost $500,000." A second 10-story companion was designed but never constructed.

Update 11 August 2019: This building has been demolished.

Fritz Woehle in 1966 with a model of the building never constructed 

Source: BhamWiki

The architect for the project was Fritz Woehle, who moved to Birmingham in 1958 and remained in the city until his death in 2017. When the Doctor's Center opened, Woehle moved his office to the penthouse on the seventh floor. 

In the 1970's he bought the property at 10th Terrace South containing several abandoned garage stalls. The site was converted and now houses his antiques collection and the legendary The Garage Cafe

UAB purchased the building in 1985 with a gift from optometrist Paul Worrell and his wife Sylvia. Renovated to house the Vision Sciences program, the structure was dedicated in Worrell's honor in 1988.

The entrance to the building features some of the public sculpture seen around campus.

The Doctor's Center in 1962

Source: BhamWiki

Worrell Building Annex – 924 18th Street South

Jefferson County Department of Human Resources Building (former)
1301 5th Avenue South

Like many large universities, UAB is constantly purchasing property that comes available near campus. I imagine that happened when this county department moved downtown. I have no idea about the history of this building. The two photos below offer additional views.

Cancer Research Center – 550 11th Street South

This building on the western edge of campus would seem to date from the 1980's, but UAB obviously has other plans for the site.

711 Building – 711 11th Street South

This building and the one below housed the UAB football program offices and locker rooms for some years. 

UPDATE 11 August 2019: These two buildings were recently demolished. According to the article, the building above was once a dentist's office.

Dowdy Building – 1109 7th Avenue South

1200 Building – 1200 6th Avenue South

UAB's bookstore moved here temporarily a few years ago while the new student center was built. Before UAB bought the property it was a grocery or drug store, I think. 

UPDATE 11 August 2019: This building has been demolished. 

That "Lunch Buffet" sign belongs to the Sitar Indian Cuisine restaurant at the corner of University Boulevard and 20th Street. When I started work at UAB in 1983 and for some years afterward a drug store was located in that space. 

Purchased by UAB in 1985, the building was constructed in 1950-51 as apartments with retail space on the ground floor. Other business tenants have included Tracy's Cafeteria--I ate there a number of times over the years. 

UAB has used the facility for extended-stay patients from out of town who require ongoing care. Improved facilities will be provided for those patients. UAB is assisting Sitar in finding a new location.

Source: UAB Reporter

The Town House in the 1950's.

Source: UAB Reporter via the UAB Archives