- This article is about the spring. For other uses, see Brown Springs (disambiguation).
Brown Springs is a natural spring which gave the Brown Springs neighborhood its name. The spring, on the northwest corner of the present-day intersection of Oporto Avenue and 73rd Street South, across from St James Baptist Church, served as a gathering spot for early residents of the agricultural and mining district on the outskirts of Birmingham.
A barbecue pit and picnic tables were set up near the spring, and neighbors pitched in to scrub the circular wall built around the spring-fed pool twice a year.
At one time a saloon with billiard tables operated nearby, attracting miners and quarrymen from nearby Ruffner Mountain. The spring gained a rough reputation, with frequent violent fights breaking out.
The environment was also sullied by the presence of hog pens, the effluent from which drained toward the low-lying spring.
In the 1950s, as the neighborhood was connected to municipal water from the Birmingham Water Works, an attempt was made to seal the spring outlet. Many attempts have been made to fill in the resulting low wet spot. Efforts by Marty Schulman and geologist Randy Gray convinced the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District to keep the spring open.
In 2006 the area surrounding the springs was restored as a "EcoScape" by Birmingham-Southern College's Southern Environmental Center. Arnie Rutkis performed the landscaping work with support from the neighborhood association and other sponsors. Artist Fonde Taylor created decorative steel panels
The project was largely responsible for Brown Springs' second-place finish in the 2006 Neighborhoods USA "Neighborhood of the Year" national award.
- Abrams, Vivi (July 27, 2005) "Brown Springs returns to past as it develops 'ecoscape' park." The Birmingham News
- Singleton, William C. III (April 12, 2006) "Neighborhood association up for national recognition." The Birmingham News