Rosedale

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This article is about the neighborhood in Homewood. For other uses, see Rosedale (disambiguation).

The Rosedale community, originally known as Rosedale Park, is one of three that came together to become the city of Homewood in 1926. The community was first settled in the late 1880s. Originally settled by both whites and blacks, what was the white section is now the Homewood Central Business District, while the African American section retains the Rosedale name and remains largely residential. The neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History

Rosedale grew on land first purchased by the Watkins family in the 1830s. Walnut Street Baptist Church was organized in 1887 and later merged with with Healing Spring Baptist Church to form Union Baptist Church.

Benjamin Roden and the Clifton Land Company purchased large tracts in Shades Valley, including the Rosedale area in 1889 under the South Birmingham Land Company name. Unable to secure streetcar service over Lone Pine Gap, the owners of the new company decided to begin selling lots to African American miners working on Red Mountain, thus making Rosedale the first area specifically marketed to black homeowners in the Birmingham vicinity. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, a school and three churches were constructed in the neighborhood using Hartselle sandstone mined from the northern edge of the community.

In 1890, florist Theodore Smith began purchasing land to the east of the South Birmingham Land Company's. Smith built his family's home and a greenhouse on a portion of his purchases, while selling some lots to his employees. Before the decade was out, he had bought all the land between Park Avenue (18th Street South) and East Avenue (Independence Drive) from Walnut Street (26th Avenue South) to Oxmoor Road.

Smith encouraged some African Americans, notably Damon Lee, to relocate to the area. Blacks predominantly settled to the north and west in Rosedale Park in land purchased from the South Birmingham Land Company, while whites settled in the center and southern areas originally owned by Smith.

In 1897, Smith convinced residents in the area to incorporate, which was accepted by Jefferson County and Smith became mayor. The Alabama legislature, however, revoked the incorporation on February 23, 1899. Also in 1897 the Bethel A.M.E. Church was organized under the leadership of S. T. Grove.

In 1926, the people of Edgewood (then a town), voted to annex Grove Park and Rosedale and change the new, larger town's name to Homewood. The state legislature approved the act on February 11, 1927.

In 1931, responding to complaints from a few white citizens about blacks moving into areas not traditionally a part of the black section, the Homewood City Council officially delineated the African American part of town. Loveless Street (now B. M. Montgomery Street) was the western border and East Avenue (now Independence Drive) was the eastern border. The southern border was the Central Business District, which at the time ran along Central Avenue north to 8th Avenue (now 25th Court) and back south down Park Avenue (now 18th Street South), while the city limits were the northern limit.

In the 1950s and '60s, an effort was made by the city of Homewood to replace most of the community with a development known as Southgate Shopping Mall, but this plan was abandonded after a legal battle. Despite this victory, a significant portion of the neighborhood was lost during the 1960s with the construction of Robins Drive (now named Rosedale Drive), which links 18th Street South with the Highway 31/Highway 280 interchange. The neighborhood was also bisected by 18th Street as it was expanded to multiple lanes. Rosedale once covered approximately 110 acres, but now less than 30 acres of the area are residential.

The Rosedale Community Development Corporation (RCDC), headed by Adrienne Lee, was formed in 1984 and seeks to halt any further rezoning of Rosedale's residential lots to commercial lots while they develop plans to help revitalize the neighborhood.

There was opposition from Myrtle Lee Tinsley, Adrienne Lee's sister-in-law and one of the biggest property holders in Rosedale. In 2005 she stated, "Rosedale is a lost cause" and believes much of the property in Rosedale will do better as commercial developments. She further said that the RCDC has not included her in the development of any Rosedale revitalization plans and would object to them because of that (Jordan).

Geography

Rosedale's original area as delineated in 1931 has been encroached by the Central Business District and split by the expansion and commercial development of 18th Street South. Rosedale is located along the northern edge of Homewood, bordered by the Homewood city limits to the north (meeting the Birmingham city limits), the Central Business District to the south, Woodcrest Place (adjacent to the Red Mountain expressway) to the west, and B. M. Montgomery Street along the east side. Griffin Brook runs through the western portion of the neighborhood.

On March 31, 2004, the remaining residential portions of Rosedale were declared as two historic districts. The Rosedale Historic District is the portion west of 18th Street, bounded roughly by 25th Court to the north, Central Avenue to the east, 27th Court to the south, and B. M. Montgomery Street to the west. The Rosedale Park Historic District is the portion to the east of 18th Street, bounded roughly by 25th Court to the north, Woodcrest Place to the east, 26th Avenue to the south, and 18th Street to the west.

Institutions

Rosedale School, originally started by B. M. Montgomery teaching out of his home in the late 19th century, served African American students in Rosedale and nearby sections of Jefferson County as part of Jefferson County Schools until the schools were integrated. The school building was later used as the campus of the Shades Valley Resource Learning Center. It is now the home of the Birmingham Islamic Center's Homewood Masjid and the Islamic Academy of Alabama.

Rosedale is home to several houses of worship, including Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Friendship Baptist Church, Homewood Church of God, the aforementioned Homewood Masjid, and St. John Kame Coptic Orthodox Church.

Spring Park, located along Griffin Brook and historically used for recreation in the neighborhood, was officially made a public park by Homewood in 1966. The Lee Community Center is operated in the neighborhood by Homewood Parks and Recreation for predominantly indoor activities.

References

  • Summe, Sheryl Spradling. (2001). Homewood: The Life of a City. Homewood, AL: Friends of the Homewood Public Library.
  • "No Room for Rosedale?" (Fall 2004) [1] Living It Out: Greater Birmingham Ministries.
  • Jordan, Phillip. (May 12, 2005). "Tracking Down the Truth" [2]. Birmingham Weekly.
  • Collins, Jake (November-December 2017) "A Brief History of Rosedale". Homewood Life. Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 48-53

External links