Newman Waters Sr

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Newman Hosmer Waters Sr (born July 15, 1897 in Eulaton, Calhoun County; died July 14, 1973 in Birmingham) was a theater executive and real estate developer, responsible for pioneering projects like Eastwood Mall and Office Park.

Waters grew up in Birmingham and attended Central Grammar School in Gate City until dropping out in 6th grade. At age 15 he began working for the Southern Railway and left after seven years to start his own building supply transfer business in Ensley. He lost the business in 1930 and took to the rails for the next two years. He returned in 1932 and founded the Waters Theater Company, busily acquiring movie houses in Fairfield, Ensley, Woodlawn, East Lake, Norwood, Five Points South, Homewood, Central Park, Pratt City, Tarrant City, Leeds, Cullman and Hartselle. He built the area's first major drive-in movie in 1948 and eventually owned six.

Branching out from entertainment, Waters was a prime mover in the development of residential neighborhoods in Belview Heights, Oak Hills, Crestwood and Killough Springs. He bought the downtown Watts Building, Lyric Building and Phoenix Building in 1945. He also purchased the Theodore Swann residence out of foreclosure for $57,500.

In 1960 Waters built the Deep South's first enclosed shopping mall at Eastwood Mall and one of the nation's first suburban office parks with Mountain Brook's Office Park.

Waters served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Athens College and donated half of the Athens Building for its use. He was president of the Downtown Club and Downtown Improvement Association, chair of the Birmingham Housing Authority's Urban Renewal Advisory Board, and a director of Spastic Aid of Alabama. He was a freemason and a board member of East Lake Methodist Church and Canterbury Methodist Church. He later joined First Methodist Church.

Waters, who had moved to Smyer Road, died one day before his 76th birthday in July 1973, and was buried at Elmwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Anna and four children.

The Newman H. Waters, Sr. papers are housed in the Birmingham Architecture & Design Collection at the Birmingham Public Library archives.


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