Shades Valley High School (1949)

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This article is about the former building which served from 1949 to 1996. For the current school, see Shades Valley High School.
Shades Valley High School in 1950

Shades Valley High School (1949) was a newly-constructed high school in the Jefferson County School System which was built as a replacement for Shades Cahaba High School in 1949. It was located at 104 Hermosa Drive, on land in unincorporated Jefferson County near both Homewood and Mountain Brook and adjacent to Lane Park, until 1996. The school moved to a new campus on Old Leeds Road in Irondale that fall.

The Homewood City Council, concerned about growth of the city and its effect on the student population at Shades Cahaba High School, formed a special school committee in 1942 to let the Jefferson County Board of Education know that "proper consideration" had not been given to the needs of the area. The committee's report, issued in spring 1943, called for the construction of a new high school, which the city offered to help finance construction of. Jefferson County Superintendent John E. Bryan, did not respond favorably at first, but eventually caved as citizens' demands increased.

A joint venture between the county schools, Homewood, and newly incorporated Mountain Brook was suggested and, in 1945, a study by the Bureau of Educational Research at the University of Alabama found it feasable. In May 1947, both cities' citizens voted for a five-mill tax to support their schools, with two mills going toward the purchase of land and support of a new high school. The county school board purchased 40 acres in the Sweetwater Park Survey between Birmingham and Homewood and adjacent to Lane Park for the new school, approximately 1/2 mile from Shades Cahaba. Van Keuren & Davis designed the new school and Daniel Construction won the project bid at $2.1 million, significantly more than the original construction estimate of half a million dollars. Frank Peake, formerly principal of Hewitt-Trussville High School, was named principal of the new school. Nineteen faculty members from Shades Cahaba transferred.

When the county school board announced that the school was to be named Shades Valley instead of maintaining the Shades Cahaba name, many citizens of Homewood were outraged. Shades Cahaba was to be maintained as the elementary school's name, which would continue in the old high school's building, although Shades Valley would continue the use of the Mountaineers (or Mounties) athletic teams' names. 1,600 students and graduates of Shades Cahaba signed a petition over the new name and the Homewood City Council, Shades Valley Exchange Club, and Shades Valley Athletic Association all presented resolutions to the school board requesting the Shades Cahaba name be used, but the school board stayed with Shades Valley.

The new school, although not completed, opened to students on September 12, 1949. Only the west wing, containing the offices, library, and ten classrooms, was finished at the time. Additional classes met in the library, school buses, and the hallways, while the band and graphic arts department continued to meet at Shades Cahaba. Construction continued while classes met and the school was completed, finishing with the auditorium, just prior to graduation. The formal dedication took place May 25, 1950.

The Shades Valley Mountie logo

Shades Valley was designed to house 1,500 students. Initial enrollment in 1949 was 870. By 1955 it was up to 1,456 and then 1,701 in 1956. However, in 1959, Mountain Brook formed its own school system. Initially, students were allowed to continue attending Shades Valley for a fee while Mountain Brook constructed its own high school. Despite Mountain Brook students leaving, by 1967 enrollment reached 2,000. In 1970, Homewood also formed an independent school system, operating under a similar arrangement of allowing students to attend Shades Valley while Homewood High School was built.

A monumental tree, planted in front of the school during construction, died as a result of a senior prank in 1979.

Sometime after the new campus opened in 1996, the original building was demolished and the Colonial Bank Building was built on the west end of the site, completed in 2001.


  • Summe, Sheryl Spradling. (2001). Homewood: The Life of a City. Homewood, AL: Friends of the Homewood Public Library.
  • "Shades Valley High School" (April 12, 2010) Wikipedia - accessed April 12, 2010

External links