J. F. Oates Building

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The J. F. Oates Building (sometimes called the German Auto Building) is a three-story concrete and brick building on the corner of 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue South. It is the present home of the Birmingham School of Law.

The building was constructed in 1929 for a Chrysler and Plymouth dealership and later housed Tom WIlliams Porsche/BMW. It was purchased and renovated by Chris Tomaras of Sweet Tea Restaurant before it was sold to Hugh Locke Investments LLC, which began leasing it to the School of Law in 2013.

Because it was built as an automobile dealership, the three-story building was constructed with ramps to each floor. A failed loft re-development proposal of the mid-2000s would have used the ramps to access drive-up parking on each floor. The law school plans to adapt the lower ramp structure for tiered auditorium seating.


  • Diel, Stan (January 27, 2011) "It's like the Bat Cave: Contractor leaving ramps for cars in Birmingham's Southside building." Birmingham News
  • Diel, Stan (May 9, 2012) "Birmingham School of Law gets a change of venue." Birmingham News