JCHA NEWSLETTER – OCTOBER 2010

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JEFFERSON COUNTY HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
NEWSLETTER


Birmingham History Center Artifacts Update

One of the very best areas that we have targeted lately are old letterheads from Birmingham businesses. These vintage letterheads are extremely attractive additions to our collections for the following reasons: (a) at 8 ½ “ x 11” in size they display well, (b) many are really works of art and are absolutely beautiful, not at all the plain and simple designs of today. (c) they often list the corporate officers and this important information is simply not conveniently found anywhere else. (d) old company letterheads are a wonderful source for historians and genealogists. (e) the accuracy of the information on letterheads is excellent. (f) last but not least most historic and beautiful letterheads do not cost much and a real nice one may be little more than $10.00

While an obituary may easily have wrong information (the Birmingham News has never learned to spell “Ramsay High School”), the Thomas McAdory Owen and Marie Bankhead Owen series are no longer accepted as genealogical proof by most, the Telephone Company failed to keep copies of their early books and City Directories are good but would not usually even begin to have all the information that a letterhead might contain.

Earlier I wrote about the Lem Motlow (Jack Daniels) distillery that was located here in Birmingham. This fascinating, informative and beautiful letter, written by Mr. Motlow, (a) showed a picture of what the Birmingham facility looked like, (b) the exact location (near Ted’s Restaurant), (c) the date it existed and (d) the names of two of the Motlows who ran it. This rare, rare piece of Birmingham history was not cheap but nowhere near a Jack Daniels/Lem Motlow Birmingham whiskey jug which fetches $2,000 or so. An expert informed me that our letterhead is much rarer than a Birmingham Jack Daniels jug.

We recently acquired a beautiful hand engraved letterhead for Birmingham Trust & Savings (Now Wells Fargo) dated May 21, 1928. There is an engraving of their building on 20th Street North looking almost exactly as it does today. George and Ginger Stockham Ladd now own it. Arthur W. Smith is shown as Chairman, Walter C. Henly is president and William H. Manley is vice-president. Other officers listed are D. B. Taliaferro, Maclin F. Smith and A. Key Foster.

Another historic letterhead recently acquired is from the President’s Office of Howard College and the address is “East Lake, Ala.” Dated June 23, 1893 the president of Howard College, B. F. Riley, is writing A. L. Hull of the University of Georgia accepting the position of Chair of English at UGA. The letter was handwritten by President Riley and marked “collection of J. A. Riley”. What a treasure this one is!

Another letterhead is that of radio station WAPI dated August 19, 1931. We know that “API” stood for “Alabama Polytechnic Institute” but also incorporated into the logo is “University of Alabama” and “Alabama College”. This letter is from Acting Manager Carroll Gardner to Lewis “Shorty” Dawson.

Another interesting letterhead is from “Sunny South Grain Company” dated April 27, 1923. The officers listed are J. E. Redus, president, T. J. Kidd, vice-president and W. B. Hairston, secretary and treasurer. Was this company the predecessor to “Sunnyland”?

We have a 1923 letterhead from the old Loveman, Joseph & Loeb the predecessor to “Loveman’s” department store. This one is especially noteworthy because on it appears a beautiful image of the building as it first was before burning down. Until it was restored, “The Alabama Theatre” still had smoke damage at the air ducts above the screen where the “Loveman Joseph & Loeb” smoke, but not the fire, had somehow gotten in to the Alabama’s ventilation system. The store was rebuilt after the great fire and of course is now the “McWane Center”.

Famous Restaurant Menu added to our Collection

As you know the Birmingham History Center has over thirty (30) menus from Birmingham eateries now gone. We now own a “Dales Cellar”. This restaurant was first located in the basement of a building adjacent to the old “Essex House” luxury high rise apartments on 21st Street North opposite Church of the Advent. After “Dale’s” moved out “The Downtown Club” moved in prior to having their own beautiful freestanding building across from the old location of the former Robert Jemison, Sr. home on 6th Avenue North. All were demolished.

“Dales” prices, from our menu, were beef kabobs for $2.00, filet mignon at $3.00 and a seafood platter for $1.75. These were complete dinners with soup, potatoes and tea or coffee!

“Dales” expanded into Homewood, Charlotte, Huntsville, Florence, Atlanta, Panama City, Montgomery and so on. The Montgomery location was operated by franchisee Sol Ginsburg atop the Walter Bragg Smith Apartments where a devastating fire broke out killing 25 of Montgomery’s leading citizens.

Today’s Dale’s Sauce lives on as well as the one remaining location in Florence.

This Issue’s Featured Historical Markers

ST. VINCENT’S HOSPITAL (1898)
Birmingham’s Oldest Hospital

Named for St. Vincent dePaul, founder of Daughters of Charity in France in 1633, the hospital opened December 20, 1898 in the temporarily rented Henry F. DeBardeleben mansion at 206 15th Street South. Father Patrick A. O’Reilly founded the hospital together with Sisters Antonia, Bebedicia, Patricia and Placida. Filling Birmingham’s desperate need for a hospital, the magnificent original building was dedicated on this site on November 29, 1900 at a cost of $223,000. The State’s first School of Nursing was founded here by Sister Chrysotom Moynahan, Alabama’s first Registered Nurse. The current facility was dedicated May 25, 1974. On December 5, 1997, the Women’s and Children’s Center and Bruno Conference Center were added.

*  *  *  *  *  *

SHADES VALLEY HIGH SCHOOL
Original Site (1949-2000)

Nationally acclaimed Jefferson County school which originally served students from Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia, Oak Grove, Irondale, Cahaba Heights, Hoover, Rocky Ridge, etc.

Opened Fall 1949, closed 1996, demolished 2000. Designed by E.B. Van Keuren and Charles F. Davis, Jr. Built by Daniel Construction. First principal, who served from 1949 to 1970, was Frank A. Peake.

Erected by the Class of 1958 in 2001.

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