Two North Twentieth
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 modern skyscraper was built as the home of the Bank for Savings and Trusts and cost about $1 million. It 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. The structure 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.
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. During the 1980s Engel Realty Company, which had participated in redevelopment, kept its offices in the building.
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 structure was occasionally booked for rave parties.
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 by Harbert Realty Services.
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.
Besides the Bank for Savings and Trusts, early tenants included the Thomas Tolliver law firm (now Burr & Forman) the Wallace R. Hartsfield Agency, the Equitable Life Insurance Company and Blevins Barber Shop, which has been in the building since it opened and is still there today. Chuck Morgan opened his law office there when the building opened, but closed it when he fled town in 1963. 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.
Current tenants include, the United States General Services Administration, HKW Associates 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, and Bayside Business Solutions.
- Berman, Irving (June 22, 1959) "Skyscraper to replace L&N railroad station" Birmingham News
- 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
- 3-D model of Two North Twentieth by Jordan Herring