Tuggle Institute or Tuggle Hill Institute, was a privately-run charity founded by social worker Carrie Tuggle on September 3, 1903. She wanted to provide safe housing and a good education to orphaned African-American children. The school was supported by the Court of Calanthe and Daughters of the Rising Sun secret women's organizations as well as by tuition and with funds from its trustees.
Around 1905 Tuggle hired Sam Foster to start a school band. It was there that he trained trumpeter Fess Whatley and taught him how to read music. By 1908 an advisory board made up of prominent white philanthropists, including Louis Pizitz, Hugo Black and James "Brother" Bryan, was involved in supporting the institute.
In the 1912-13 school year the institute had 146 students, of which 4 were in secondary grades and 120 were boarding at the school. Early industrial programs taught to upper-grade students included printing, woodworking and sewing. At that time the school operated under debt. The school building, judged by inspectors to be overcrowded and in poor repair, were mortgaged to make up the deficit between operating expenses and the approximately $1,800 in income from tuition and donations.
One of Foster's leading music students, trumpeter Fess Whatley, took over as band director at Tuggle. In 1915 a mass meeting was held to raise funds to retire the school's debts. Birmingham City Commissioner Arlie Barber spoke at the event.
On Lincoln's Birthday in 1920 the institute celebrated the completion of a new building, designed by Wallace Rayfield. James Dillard, pastor of South Side Baptist Church spoke, followed by R. A. Blount, grand chancellor of the Colored Pythians and W. W. Green, exalted ruler of the Colored Elks. In 1925 the Institute was located at 1227 9th Street North and also operated a community hospital around the corner at 800 12th Court North.
William McAlpine's Alabama State Federation of Colored Civic Leagues founded the Tuggle Hill Redemption Corporation to support efforts to preserve Tuggle's legacy and reuse the property for the benefit of Black children. The group worked with the Birmingham Board of Education and the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board to acquire the 15-acre site and its 13 structures. A ceremony celebrating the purchase of the property was held on Saturday October 31, 1936. Governor Bibb Graves was the featured speaker, taking the podium after an afternoon barbecue with music from a 100-voice choir directed by Harold McCoo. Other speakers included Erskine Ramsay, C. B. Glenn, and Harry Denman, who introduced the institute's white board of trustees. Proceeds from the barbecue went toward a fund for renovations.
The proposed partnership included a new public school for Black children, originally called the Enon Ridge School but soon renamed in Tuggle's honor. Meanwhile the Federation of Colored Civic Leagues would use part of the property to train Black children as domestic servants.
In 1937 McAlpine and architect Wallace Rayfield, representing the Alabama Colored Civic League, which owned the former Tuggle Institute property, petitioned the Birmingham Board of Parks and Recreation to construct a community house there for Black children. They estimated the cost would be around $1,500. The Board responded that they would be willing to invest up to $300 in such a project, but only if the land were deeded to the city.
- A. G. Gaston, entrepreneur
- Erskine Hawkins, musician
- Jo Jones, musician
- P. H. Polk, photographer
- Bob Range, musician
- Captain Sims, musician
- Fess Whatley, musician
- Birmingham Board of Education (c. 1982) “History of Carrie A. Tuggle School.” (mimeograph)
- United States Office of Education (1917) Negro Education: A Study of the Private and Higher Schools. Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office. p. 102
- "Tuggle Institute to Have New Building" (February 14, 1920) Cleveland Advocate. Vol. 6, No. 50, p. 1
- "Civic Project Asked" (June 9, 1937) The Birmingham News, p. 12