Woodlawn City Hall

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The former Woodlawn City Hall in July 2006

The Woodlawn City Hall is a large two-story brick building located at 5525 1st Avenue North on the corner of 55th Place North in the center of the Woodlawn business district.

Woodlawn's first city hall and jail was constructed in 1895. This much larger building, designed by Robert Posey, was constructed in 1908 for the still independent city. It was rendered obsolete less than two years later by the Greater Birmingham annexation that took effect on January 1, 1910.

The tan brick building is trimmed with moulded terra-cotta details and features a deep overhanging cornice and a classical pediment around the front entry. Originally the building contained not only a Woodlawn City Council chamber and offices for the Mayor of Woodlawn, but also space for the fire and police departments, municipal court and city jail. A lending library of 890 volumes, established by the Women's Club of Woodlawn in 1904 and housed in the City Hall building, became the first branch of the Birmingham Public Library when the building was turned over to the city of Birmingham.

Woodlawn City Hall in the 1930s

In the 1930s the building housed Morgan Bros shop and the Ben Franklin Store in its two main ground floor retail spaces. The city sold the building in 1940, but continued to lease space for the library until a new branch was constructed in 1950. Other tenants included the Woodlawn Frame Shop, the Post House Cafe and Kent's Photo.

In the 1960s the former city court chambers upstairs were used as a meeting hall by the notorious Eastview 13 Klavern of the Alabama Knights, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Inc. Members of that group, meeting in secret as the Cahaba River Group, planned the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church.

In December 1986 the building was purchased by Larry and Charlotte Kelpke for their Fabric Jungle store. They consulted with the Alabama Historical Commission for advice on its restoration.

The building was added to the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage in 1976 and to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Currently the building houses the Eastside Funeral Home.

References

  • Bell, Elma (February 21, 1988) "Old City Hall in Woodlawn gets new lease on life" Birmingham News via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
  • McWhorter, Diane (2001) Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama, The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0743226488