Alabama Mineral Exposition Building

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The Exposition Building seen in Henry Wellge's 1885 Bird's Eye view of Birmingham
The Mineral Exposition Building seen in John Witherspoon DuBose's 1886 The Mineral Wealth of Alabama and Birmingham Illustrated.

The Alabama Mineral Exposition Building was a temporary structure erected on the south side of Capitol Park facing 20th Street North. It was built in the 1870s to display samples of minerals extracted from throughout the Birmingham District to visitors, and thereby to encourage investments in the growth of the city and its industries. It continued to serve that purpose for the next decade.

In 1883 the building was enlarged for the Alabama State Exposition, which opened on April 22, 1884 and ran through the summer.

For part of 1886 the building housed students from the Powell School while a new building was constructed for them.

In 1889 new exhibition buildings were constructed at the Alabama State Fairgrounds. A proposal was made by the Society of Local Charities to convert the building for use as an Industrial School for the Poor and Homeless. The Birmingham Board of Aldermen determined that it lacked the authority to commit $140 in city funds toward the project, but Mayor B. A. Thompson and Aldermen Solomon, E. L. Higdon, W. C. Rabb and J. P. Mudd each donated $10. Ultimately the cost of repairing the structure for that use was judge to be too high. The exposition building was demolished in 1891.

In the 1950s, with the anticipated opening of the Oscar Wells Memorial Building for the Birmingham Museum of Art, there were calls to establish a new "permanent exhibition of the major products of [Birmingham's] mines, mills and factories, along with representation of its medical and research facilities."


  • "A Better Way" (September 11, 1889) Weekly Age-Herald
  • Cruikshank, George M. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs (2 vol.) Chicago: Lewis Publishing.
  • "From where I stand" (September 28, 1955) The Birmingham News, p. 1