Joseph S. Smolian was an executive for the Pizitz department store chain.
Smolian married Bertha Pizitz, the daughter of store owner Louis Pizitz. He bought a share in the company in 1922 and founded the Pizitz-Smolian Co-Operative Stores Co., which operated Pizitz locations in Birmingham, Anniston, Bessemer, Gadsden, Montgomery and Chattanooga. He served as secretary and vice-president of the company, and was involved in the chain's expansion into suburban areas in the 1940s and 1950s.
In 1946 Smolian purchased 80-acres of beachfront property near Seagrove Beach, Florida for $8,000. He planned to use the property as a summer retreat for Pizitz employees, but those plans were never carried out. His granddaughter, Daryl Rose Davis and her husband Robert began developing the land into the planned community of "Seaside" in 1981.
The Smolians were major supporters of psychiatric medicine at the Medical College of Alabama. The couple sponsored residencies and rented space for the program in the 1950s. In 1959 they donated $100,000, matched by federal funds under the Hill-Burton Act, to finance construction of the Smolian Psychiatric Clinic, the first new building constructed for Birmingham's planned Medical Center. They donated their own home to the Medical College for use as a faculty club and purchased a house next door, which became the Friendship House, and later funded the creation of the Smolian International House.
- "News of Birmingham Business Activities" (November 19, 1921) Dry Goods Economist. No. 4037, p. 283