Birmingham History Center
The Birmingham History Center (previously called the Birmingham-Jefferson History Museum) was a collection of artifacts relating to the history of Birmingham and Jefferson County collected under the auspices of the Jefferson County Historical Association. The museum's mission was "to collect historic artifacts of Jefferson County, Alabama from its earliest time to the present in order to save these from loss, destruction, and discard; to exhibit to the general public including school children by providing educational exhibits, programs and experiences."
The museum was incorporated as a separate entity on March 17, 2004, housed temporarily in a 1,600 square foot space at 12 Office Park in the Mountain Brook Office Park while organizers pursued plans for a permanent home. Until his death in 2010 Marvin Whiting served as curator of the collection. Jerry Desmond was hired as executive director for the center in 2009.
In May 2008 the museum announced that it would purchase the former Regions Investment Company building at 2011 4th Avenue North for $725,000. The two-story, 12,800 square-foot building was constructed in the early 20th century and was to be refurbished before the museum opened. Difficulties with the renovations, including the need to replace the steam heating system due to the closing of the Powell Avenue Steam Plant, caused the museum to abandon those plans.
Instead the museum signed a 3-year lease for 3,000 feet of gallery space at the Center for Regional Planning and Design in the former Young & Vann Building on 1st Avenue North. The exhibit includes numerous historical artifacts and artworks, as well as reproductions of maps and news articles, explanatory material, musical recordings, and interactive displays. Their lease was not renewed in 2012 and the building was cleared to make way for the Alabama Media Group to take it over.
The History Center moved its offices to the Hill Arts Center on 3rd Avenue North, and later to the Pythian Temple on 18th Street North as it continued searching for a suitable permanent location for its exhibit gallery. In 2017 the board reached an agreement to transfer ownership of the collection to the Vulcan Park Foundation.
- A stock certificate from the Elyton Land Company
- A settee from the parlor of Lou Wooster's house
- Bottles from several local bottlers
- Eleanor Bridges' monumental "Cyclorama of Birmingham History"
- The 8-foot-long model of the USS Birmingham (CL-62) on loan from the United States Navy
- handwritten copy of music for "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" signed by Hugh Martin along with other sheet music for songs about Birmingham.
- Menus from Joy Young and other landmark restaurants
- Various pieces of mining equipment
- Coman, Victoria L. (May 20, 2008) "Birmingham-Jefferson History Museum may be getting a permanent home in downtown Birmingham by late June". The Birmingham News
- Spencer, Thomas (December 27, 2009) "Museum will present Birmingham's tale, good and bad." The Birmingham News
- Birmingham History Center website