Two North Twentieth

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Two North Twentieth (originally the Bank for Savings Building), constructed in 1962, is a 17-story (264 foot) modern office tower developed by Engel Realty, designed by Lawrence Whitten and constructed by Daniel Construction. It is located at the corner of 20th Street North and Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham, a site previously occupied by the L & N Station (1886-1960) and before that, the Relay House, a hotel built by the Elyton Land Company in 1871.

The current building is known best for the monumental 176 by 26 foot electronic marquee mounted on top which displays advertising messages using an array of 1,440 incandescent bulbs. The Bank for Savings Building was the first tall building to be constructed in Birmingham after the Depression, and is the most visible example of the International Style of architecture in the city.

Early tenants included the Thomas Tolliver law firm (now Burr & Forman) and the Equitable Life Insurance Company and Blevins Barber Shop, which has been in the building since it opened and is still there today. The top floor was occupied by the Relay House club, which was renamed the Summit Club when it moved to the new Amsouth-Harbert Plaza.

In 1975 the building was used as a location for the movie Stay Hungry. It served as the offices of a fictional real-estate cabal. Several refurbishing projects were completed in the late 1970s and early 80s.

In 1995 the building was purchased by Randle Jackson and Atlanta attorney Jeffery Hersh acting as Golden Mane Acquisisition Inc.. They performed asbestos abatement, but were unable to secure enough new tenants to proceed with planned renovations. In the late 1990s the ground floor of the mostly-vacant was occasionally booked for raves.

in 1996 Skyline Advertising purchased and refurbished the rooftop marquee which had been dark since 1988. The venture lasted only a year.

In 1999 the building was purchased by Atlanta developer George Cornwell, who oversaw a $16 million overhaul of finishes, infrastructure and security for the building by Evergreen Construction of Atlanta. Cornwell rechristened it as "Two North Twentieth" and the renovation, designed by KPS Group, won a Preservation Award from the Birmingham Historical Society. In 2001 Cornwell re-lit the advertising marquee.

The building is managed and leased (at $16.50/square foot) by Harbert Realty Services. Current tenants include, the United States General Services Administration, DesignForm Architects, KickMail, Volkert & Associates program management department, Clark James Hanlin & Hunt attorneys, Gentle, Pickens & Turner attorneys, Haynes Downard Andra & Jones attorneys, the Central Alabama Women's Business Center,

In April 2006 the former Relay House on the 17th Floor served as a gathering place to overlook the site of the future Railroad Reservation Park while plans from Tom Leader Studios were presented to local officials.

References

  • Park, Jennifer. (September 3, 1999) "Downtown skyscraper gets $16M makeover." Birmingham Business Journal.
  • Bowsher, Alice Meriwether. (Winter 2006) "When Less Was More: Alabama's Classic Modern Architecture." Alabama Heritage. No. 79
  • White, Marjorie Longenecker, ed. (1977) Downtown Birmingham: Architectural and Historical Walking Tour Guide. Birmingham: Birmingham Historical Society.