Edgewood was a town in Shades Valley that expanded to become Homewood. Today it refers to a neighborhood in Homewood centered on the Edgewood Business District at the intersection of Oxmoor Road and Broadway Street.
The Edgewood Highlands Land Company was founded in the first decade of the 20th century by Stephen Smith and Troupe Brazelton. The company purchased 1,700 acres of land in Shades Valley between Oak Grove and Rosedale Park around 1909, 200 acres of which were surveyed and platted as Edgewood. That same year, the company began building the Birmingham & Edgewood Electric Railway over Red Mountain at Lone Pine Gap to provide easy access to Birmingham's South Highlands area. The line opened in 1911.
In 1912, Edgewood Presbyterian Church was established as the first church in the area. That same year, the Edgewood Highlands Land Company established Edgewood Park at the railway's southern terminus. In 1915, the park's centerpiece, Edgewood Lake finally came to fruition. As Smith and Brazelton planned, many Birmingham residents frequented Edgewood for recreation, but more importantly, some decided to move to the area, particularly along the railway.
Edgewood was incorporated as a town on June 12, 1920. The Edgewood Town Council held their first meeting that same day at 218 Broadway, in the garage of the town's first mayor, Hartley T. Brownell. Early concerns of the town council included controlling nuisance domestic animals, including cows from the dairies just outside Edgewood, sanitation, traffic control, and street improvements. In 1922, Edgewood Town Hall was completed at the corner of Evergreen and Highland. By 1923, the town's population was between 2,000 and 2,500.
One of the councilors was appointed Fire Marshal, but no fire service was ever organized by the town. Policing was initially done by the councilors as a group until the town's first police officer, Officer Faucett, who also did building and sanitation inspections, was hired in 1923. By the next year, there were two police officers. The town made arrangements to use the Birmingham City Jail when necessary.
The town leaders initially were determined to keep the town residential and refused to allow any new businesses to open within the town limits. However, in 1924, Dr. John Callaway convinced the council a drug store was needed and the Edgewood Drug Company opened in a new building at the southwest corner of Oxmoor and Broadway.
In 1923, the council contracted to buy six acres of land off of Broadway for a new Edgewood Elementary School. Five of the acres were deeded to the Jefferson County Board of Education in 1924 and construction of a two-room schoolhouse began. It was completed in April 1926, with the town council making several appropriations to help get it ready. The school opened to students that September.
The town council had discussed annexing the neighboring Grove Park area a few times, but nothing came of it at first despite requests from Grove Park residents to be annexed. The residents then asked attorney Charles Rice to help them incorporate. Instead, Rice led the residents of Edgewood, Grove Park, Rosedale Park and other nearby areas to come together as a single large town. Some residents of Hollywood expressed interest in becoming part of it as well, but that area was already in the midst of incorporating itself. One of the compromises in consolidating was for each community to give up its individual name and adopt the new name of Homewood.
On September 20, 1926, Edgewood held a special election in which residents voted for expansion and the name change, 83 votes to 45. The ballot also included choices for a new mayor and council. Charles Rice was elected the new town's mayor by a similar margin. The Alabama Legislature approved a bill expanding the town to include Grove Park and Rosedale Park and rename it as Homewood on February 11, 1927.
After Homewood's incorporation, the area, now known as the Edgewood neighborhood, continued to grow. Additional commercial buildings were constructed along Oxmoor Road on either side of Broadway to become the Edgewood Business District. Churches in the area, including Dawson Family of Faith and Trinity United Methodist Church, grew as well. In 1956, Homewood Middle School was constructed in the area.
In 2006, The Iron Group of Jacksonville, Florida unveiled Restoration Edgewood, a massive redevelopment proposal for the Edgewood Business District. It garnered much attention and was opposed by many neighbors and business owners. Ultimately, the project did not move forward.
- Summe, Sheryl Spradling. (2001). Homewood: The Life of a City. Homewood, AL: Friends of the Homewood Public Library.