Alley School

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Alley School
Alley School 1953.jpg
Active 19021964
School type Public
District Elyton (1902-1904)
Jefferson County (1904-1910)
Birmingham (1910-1964)
Grades 1-5
Location 126 20th Avenue South, (map)

Alley School was a Birmingham school located on Green Springs Avenue (126 20th Avenue South) at the western end of Birmingham's city limits.

The first school was constructed in 1902 by the town of Elyton, in order to replace the community church which had served since 1885 as a public school, but with "denominational" teaching. I. W. McAdory chaired a committee with Thomas Alley, C. Olmutz and W. P. Walker to plan for a new building, which was erected quickly on a lot donated by Olmutz.

The first session in the new Alley school was unsuccessful, and the institution was reorganized in 1904 under the auspices of the Jefferson County Schools system, along with the Elyton School and Washington Negro School. In 1908 construction of a new two-story building with eight classrooms was begun, and the school was named in honor of Alley, who represented the Green Springs community on the Elyton Board of Aldermen.

The building was left unfinished, however, as the area's expected residential growth failed to materialize. The walls, floors, stairs and furnace were omitted, and only one of the four lower-level classrooms was enclosed, provided by a stove for heat.

The school was absorbed into the Birmingham City Schools system as part of the 1910 "Greater Birmingham" annexation. Enrollment continued to drop, and it was closed altogether between 1919 and 1922, with students traveling to the Glen Iris School. Though the school reopened, it remained the system's smallest. By 1930 the school had only 19 pupils in grades 1-3, all taught in one room by Minnie Morris, who served as principal, teacher and lunchroom cook, preparing a daily meal on the stove. Discipline was kept by student marshals who tried violators and meted out their own punishments.

Alley School closed again in 1940. During World War II it was used for a vocational program in airplane mechanics for returning veterans. For that purpose a scrapped airplane fuselage was brought to the schoolyard. Postwar residential development led the Birmingham Board of Education to approve spending $25,000 toward the repair and refurbishing of the school building in preparation for reopening in the Fall of 1952. By 1953 there was still only one room in operation, but new students were expected as houses were relocated to the neighborhood from areas absorbed by the Birmingham Airport's expansion. A second teacher was hired for the higher grades in 1958.

The school was demolished in 1964 to make way for construction of I-65. Its 72 students were reassigned to Glen Iris Elementary School.