South Roebuck Park
South Roebuck Park (sometimes called East Side Park) is a former public park which is now incorporated into the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. The former park is located at the southern terminus of Dogwood Drive and just east of the Shadywood subdivision in the Roebuck Springs-South Roebuck neighborhood. The back of the park is bounded by the roadbed formerly used by the Birmingham Mineral Railroad's Gate City Branch Extension to Trussville.
The park first opened in the 1950s and featured athletic fields used by Little League baseball and Youth League football teams. Its swimming pool was constructed in 1963 with funds raised by selling $200 bonds to neighborhood residents. Homer and Doris Shannon led those efforts. Mr Shannon joined with Lawson Corley, Roy Amberson, J. B. McGuire, J. M. Pender, James E. Greene, James David and Jim Gustin to incorporate the Eastside Swim Club in July 1963. Bondholders enjoyed free admission to the pool, with swim club fees and concession stand sales helping to pay for lifeguards. One lifeguard, David Langner, later earned fame for returning two punts for touchdowns in the 1972 Iron Bowl.
The park was closed in 1995 and the property fell into disrepair and was left abandoned. Neighborhood president Frank Hamby helped lead efforts to restore the park through the "Take Back South Roebuck Park Task Force" and the "Friends of South Roebuck Park." Eventually the athletic fields were acquired by Walter Energey and five acres of the former park was turned over to the Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve. The five acre parcel is separated from the rest of the preserve by Walter Energy's land.
With input from former RMNC director Kathy Freeland, a move began in 2007 to relocate the Redmont School (later renamed the Alabama Waldorf School) to that property. Ruffner Mountain deeded over its five acre parcel to AWS in June 2010. Architect Chris Giattina was consulted on the planning of a new school campus, which was originally budgeted at $1 million
As it continued its capital campaign, AWS worked toward establishing a community garden on the parcel. Hamby tried unsuccessfully to get the city to clear the site. With the school's support Katherine Murray and Matt Smith began cultivating vegetables on the former baseball infield as part of their Magic City Gardening project in 2013. After AWS selected another site for their school campus, the five acre parcel was returned to Ruffner Mountain, which has since taken steps to clear debris and invasive plants and to develop plans for redevelopment of the park as a neighborhood green space.
- "Eastside Park plans swim pool." (April 10, 1963) The Birmingham News, p. 30
- "Zoning Board OKs Addition For Hospital" (May 10, 1963) Birmingham Post-Herald - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "Homer O. Shannon" obituary (December 2005) - via Findagrave.com
- Grupe, Lisa (November 12, 2010) "Administrator's Ad Lib" AWS Awareness
- Agliata, Kate (September 18, 2013) "Sustainable Start Up: Magic City Gardening, Turning Seeds into Roots" My Green Birmingham
- Mitchell, Chris (October 23, 2013) "Eastside pool and inevitability" BHAM.FM
- Weir, Stanley E. (n.d.) oral history interview. Historic Birmingham Mineral Railroad Signs Project - accessed March 22, 2017
- "Eastside Swim Club Inc.". Alabama Secretary of State. Business Entity Records. - accessed March 22, 2017