Liberty National Building

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Liberty National Building, June 2005
Liberty National Building in 1947
Aerial view of the Liberty National Building, c. 1962

The Liberty National Building (originally the Pioneer Building) is a combined 10- and 16-story office building at the intersection of 20th Street and 3rd Avenue South. It was the headquarters of the Liberty National Life Insurance Company from 1931 to 2010.

The original 10-story structure facing 20th Street was developed as a speculative project in 1925. The building was designed by Warren, Knight & Davis and constructed by C. M. Allen & Son. The recently-completed office tower was purchased by Liberty National for $227,000 in 1931 for its headquarters offices. In addition to the life insurance company, the building housed the the U. S. Bureau of Investigation's Birmingham field office.

A second, larger, 10-story "Tower II" was completed to the south of the original building in 1952. A 1/5th-scale bronze replica of the Statue of Liberty was placed on top of the older building on September 13, 1958. Liberty National provided guides for visitors wishing to see the statue up close.

In 1971 a huge 16-story addition was added to the east, behind the original towers, at a cost of $5,500,000. The expansion was also designed by Warren, Knight & Davis and constructed by Brice Building Company. The addition utilized the same white-glazed face brick as the earlier building and provided space for a new employee cafeteria as well as eight high-speed elevators. The heating and air-conditioning equipment plant for the combined building is housed on the 11th floor of the 1971 building, opening onto the rooftop of the older portion.

Liberty National vacated the 487,000-square foot downtown building, in 2010, moving its Birmingham offices, with 225 employees, to 30,000 square feet in the 100 Concourse building in Riverchase.

In 2010 Robert Simon of Corporate Realty Development announced plans to purchase the building and erect a new 12-story office tower in its place. The proposal was contingent on CRD landing a corporate headquarters tenant, which never came to fruition.

In early 2016 a portion of the original building's brick veneer came loose on the south facade, dropping debris onto the alley near 20th Street and forcing officials to close off part of the street.

Pembroke Academy Investments LLC acquired the property out of foreclosure, and subsequently sold it for $3.6 million to Scott Bryant and Dick Schmalz of RGS Properties, developers of the nearby 20 Midtown mixed-use district, who formed Liberty Building LLC.

In 2017 a newly-created entity, Liberty Redemption LLC, led by William Rose and representing the former owners, re-acquired the property through right-of-redemption and named the complex Liberty Towers at Midtown

In 2018 the City of Birmingham and several economic development agencies submitted a bid for the vacant complex to host a relocation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture from Washington D.C.



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