Glen Iris Park
The subdivision was developed beginning in 1898 when Robert Jemison Sr, Rufus Rhodes and Stephen Thompson formed the City Land Company and purchased the property in a hollow or "glen" north of Red Mountain from William Walker's Walker Land Company for $4,000. Jemison hired landscape architect Samuel Parsons and architect Thomas Walter III to assist in creating what was to be Birmingham's first professionally-landscaped residential park. Norman Schoel drafted the final plat of the property, and landscape gardener G. E. Luffman supervised the planting of oaks, maples and spruces shading terraces of Kentucky bluegrass in the central park space.
The twenty estate-sized home lots at the heart of the development were sold to friends and associates of the incorporators with restrictive covenants, including the use and maintenance of the five-acre park space and the semi-private drive encircling it which was accessed from a gated entry on 16th Avenue South near 10th Place South. Another twenty-four small house lots fronting on 11th Place South were also part of the 40-acre subdivision, but were sold off without the amenities and restrictions applied to the estate lots on the circle.
Among the restrictions agreed upon by owners of the estate lots were to build only one residence per lot, with a minimum initial construction cost of $3,000, to preserve a minimum lot frontage of 100 feet in the case of resubdivision, a responsibility to share in the maintenance of the shared amenities by means of a $25 annual fee, and a provision that no one could sell their lot without the unanimous consent of their neighbors. Jemison reserved Lots 14, 16 and 18 for himself, and commissioned his architect, Thomas Walter, to design his own house on the combined lot, which was completed in 1902.
Thirteen of the houses were completed before 1910, and the last three original houses were completed before 1930. After World War II many of the large homes remained in the hands of aging residents a generation or two removed from the first builders. After their children (and servants) moved out, their incomes were strained to keep up maintenance, leading to the loss of three historic homes from condemnation. Nevertheless, residents were proud of their subdivision and wary of social changes, such as the growth of the Medical Center, which were perceived as threatening the community's future.
In 1970 the Alabama Land Investment Corp. and Redman Development of Houston, Texas proposed to build a 900-unit apartment complex at Glen Iris Park. They pledged to respect the natural terrain by terracing the apartment buildings, and to preserve most of the trees in the central open space which would feature a swimming pool, tennis, handball and volleyball courts and a large clubhouse. The developer noted that the redevelopment would increase the ad valorum tax payments to the city from Glen Iris Park from around $3,500 to $205,000 per year.
Glen Iris residents, believing that change was inevitable, voted unanimously in favor of selling out at the above-market prices offered, and the Birmingham City Council approved rezoning the subdivision to R-6. The agreement, however, failed to move forward after William Anderton, a non-resident Glen Iris Park property owner, objected. A provision in the agreement to recommend for a return to single-family zoning was not acted upon. The attorney involved in drafting the agreement died in a traffic accident before the matter was brought back to the City Council.
A Glen Iris Neighborhood Group was formed in 1975 with George Bohorfoush as president. They petitioned the City Council to reverse the rezoning back to single family, but were unsuccessful in a 1978 vote. Council member Larry Langford complained that the debate was moot since the use of the property was restricted by covenant. Anderton argued in favor of keeping the R-6 zoning because the ability to rent out rooms would help generate income so that owners could maintain the aging houses.
- Eastern side
- 1: former site of George Morrow residence, demolished late 1970s
- 3: former site of B. F. Tyler residence for B. F. and Mary Taylor; later owned by Julian and Linda Daw, demolished late 1970s
- 5: James Harwell residence, 1905-1906, designed by S. Scott Joy of Wheelock, Joy & Wheelock for James Harwell; later owned by R. DuPont Thompson; passed to his daughter Eugenie and her husband, John Akin
- 7 (previously addressed as No. 5): former site of Henry F. DeBardeleben residence, for Henry F. DeBardeleben, demolished late 1970s
- 9 (previously addressed as No. 7): former location of Mrs M. P. Smith residence (1917)
- 11: "Los Errandos", c. 1927, house and servant's house designed by Warren, Knight & Davis for Julius Dow, who purchased the empty lot from Rufus Rhodes; later owned by Walter Anderton
- 13: Lot re-subdivided between Lots 11 & 15.
- 15: William Yancey residence, c. 1915, designed by Breeding & Whilldin for Willian and Lizzie Yancey; later owned by Wesley Anderton
- 17: R. M. Goodall residence, c. 1905 for Robert Goodall; bought by James and Jewel Cochran in 1953 or 1955
- 19: Franklin Frazier residence, c. 1903 for Franklin and Alice Frazier; sold in 1908 to Eula and G. M. Lovejoy before 1917, foreclosed in 1931 and purchased by Henry and Elizabeth Anderton and passed to their son, James
- 21: Naff residence, c. 1930
- Western side
- 2: L. C. Morris residence, c. 1910, designed by William C. Weston for L. C. Morris
- 4: James Gillespie residence, c. 1904, for James Gillespie; later owned by George McCormack
- 6: E. Miller Robinson residence, 1906, designed by S. Scott Joy of Wheelock, Joy & Wheelock for E. Miller Robinson
- 8: Nat Barker residence, c. 1927, designed by Brooke Burnham for Nat Barker, later owned by the Estes and McCaig families
- 10: Jemison Stokely residence, c. 1908, originally built 1903 to design by William L. Welton, rebuilt to a new design by the same architect following a fire. Owned by Jehu Stokely
- 14: Joined to Lots 16 & 18
- 16: Robert Jemison Sr residence, 1902, designed by Thomas Walter III for Robert and Eugenie Jemison. Later owned by Ryall Morgan and Gaylon McCollough, used as the 1979 Decorators' ShowHouse
- 18: Joined to Losts 14 & 16
- 20: W. P. G. Harding residence, 1904, designed by Joseph Turner for W. P. G. Harding. Owned by James and Kate Marshall Speake Penney in 1917, and later by James and Shirley Anderton
- Washburn, Dennis (November 3, 1971) "Medical center apartments rezoning approved by council" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Glen Iris Park set trend for hillside housing." (December 19, 1971) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Kindred, Ingrid (June 21, 1978) "Council zoning decision may boost preservation effort" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- White, Marjorie Longnecker (July 1979) "Glen Iris Park and the Residence of Robert Jemison, Sr." Journal of the Birmingham Historic Society
- King, Pamela Sterne & Ellen Merkins (May 6, 1983) "National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form", enrolled August 30, 1984
- Fullman, Lynn Grisard (November 13, 1983) "Neighborhood Profile: Glen Iris Park" The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Archibald, Alecia (May 11, 2008) "Glen Iris: Gated Southside enclave." The Birmingham News
- Glen Iris Park historical marker at hmdb.org