Pratt Elementary School
|Pratt Elementary School|
|Birmingham City Schools|
|Location||306 Avenue U, (map)|
Pratt Elementary School or Pratt City Elementary School, called Pratt White School to distinguish it from the Pratt City Negro School, was a former Birmingham school located at 306 Avenue U in the Central Pratt neighborhood. It was built in 1910 and closed in 1988.
The brick and limestone building was designed in the classical revival style by Warren, Knight & Davis with D. O. Whilldin. Additions to the main building were completed in 1919 and 1926. In 1931 the school had an enrollment of 674 students and a total capacity of 1,050.
In September 1993 developer Clifford Turner of Louisville, Kentucky's Land Development Services proposed investing $3 million to turn the former school in 64 low-income apartments. Both Birmingham City Councilor Linda Coleman and neighborhood president Leroy Bandy supported the investment, but many neighborhood residents opposed the planned apartments. The proposal was approved and the city purchased the property for $70,000 from the Birmingham Board of Education and turned it over to Turner's company. A ceremonial groundbreaking was held later that month.
In May 1994, three months after it was added to the National Register of Historic Places arson gutted the interior of the building, delaying the start of the planned work. The cost of the proposed complex rose to $4.2 million and Turner was working to secure additional financing. Though the developer expressed confidence, the company did not meet city-imposed deadlines for progress on the site. Ultimately Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr made the decision to accept bids for demolition and pursue development of up to five single-family homes on the 3-acre site. The city spent over $90,000 abating asbestos and razing the main school building, but left the gymnasium standing.
The Central Pratt neighborhood association approved a proposal for dentist Reginald Swanson to purchase the property, refurbish the gym as an activity center and construct new single family houses on the remainder of the property.
- Birmingham Public Schools (1931) Report of Progress, Birmingham Public Schools: September 1, 1921 to August 31, 1931 - accessed via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- Williams, Roy (September 1, 1993) "Pratt City divided over plan: Would turn school into apartments." Birmingham News
- Dedrick, Patricia (October 16, 1994) "Mayor says developer is out of time: Plan for low-income housing won't get deadline extension." Birmingham News
- Pratt, Ted (April 4, 1995) "Voters endorse dentist's plan to transform gym." Birmingham News