Studio Arts Building

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Original Studio Arts Building in 1986
1994 Studio Arts Building in January 2009

The Studio Arts Building, constructed in 1910, was a landmark curved-front building on the northwest corner of the intersection of 20th Street and 11th Avenue South at Five Points South.

The building housed artists' studios on the upper floor, helping give the Five Points area a reputation as an artist's district. Lara Bowers, Della Dryer, Carrie Hill, Max Heldman, M. Montgomery, Sara Neill, Alice Rumph, and Arthur Stewart all had studio space in the building. Music teachers Hortense Estes (1922) and Carl Herring (1940s) as well as dressmakers Omega Ayer (1922) and Ethel Kennedy (1940s) also rented rooms there.

The ground floor housed a series of retail businesses including a grocery, a drug store, a tobacco shop, the 5-Points Bootery, Little Bombers Lounge, Poor Willie's, and later Joe Bar. The building was badly damaged in a 1986 fire and torn down the following year.

The site was used between 1990 and 1993 for the Southside Community School's "Giant Puppet Workshop".

New Studio Arts Building

In 1993 developer Tom Hinton proposed to build a new Studio Arts Building, similar in style and scale to the original. The resulting design by architect Craig P. Rogers "reinterpreted" the original lines of the building, but with a cleaner, more contemporary ceramic-tile facade and larger windows. When it opened in 1994 the new $2 million Studio Arts Building housed a Johnny Rockets diner and a Birmingham Police Department substation on the ground floor. The nightclub Studio opened in the upper floor in 1995.

When Johnny Rockets closed it was replaced by a Schaeffer Eye Center location which re-used many of the diner's 1950s-style fixtures in its design. The upper-floor tenant was ElevenTwenty dance club.

The building was purchased by Leesa Warren in 2011. Space was then renovated for a police substation, the Bacchus night club, and a Firehouse Subs. The former Johnny Rockets on the ground floor was converted into a Waffle House which opened in 2013.


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  • Walsh, Maggie Hall (September 7, 1993) "New restaurant, Studio Arts Building may fill empty Five Points spaces." The Birmingham News
  • Nabbefeld, Joe (December 26, 1993) "Downtown revitalization notches number of gains." The Birmingham News
  • Diel, Stan R. (June 23, 1994) "Five Points South classic stages rebirth." 'The Birmingham News
  • Walsh, Maggie Hall (March 2, 1995) "Studio, a new bar, is coming." The Birmingham News
  • Poe, Ryan. (December 6, 2011) "Waffle House in Five Points to open in January." Birmingham Business Journal