Slossfield Community Center
The Slossfield Community Center is a complex of buildings built in the 1930s by Black employees of American Cast Iron Pipe Company with contributions from the company, and with public funding, as an extension of ACIPCO's industrial health program for workers and their families. The center served Black residents of the neighborhood.
The complex is located between 19th and 20th Streets and between 25th Avenue North and 25th Court North in the Slossfield community between North Birmingham and Acipco-Finley. The site, which formerly housed Birmingham's municipal stables, was donated in exchange for the cost of relocating the stables. It now abuts the right of way for I-65, just north of the Finley Boulevard exit.
Funds were raised for the building through payroll deductions from Black workers to the Acipco Negro Employees Chest Fund, which was initiated by the company as, "a means of teaching the Negro the necessity of his participation in Negro Welfare Work." By 1939 the chest fund had contributed $2,100 directly to the WPA, and significant additional funds to programs and services at the community center.
The art-deco styled poured concrete structures were designed by E. B. Van Keuren and constructed by the Works Progress Administration between 1936 and 1939. The complex consists of several buildings, originally housing a health and maternity clinic, an education building and a recreation center.
The health clinic, which opened on July 1, 1939 and expanded in 1941 from 28 to 39 rooms, was built and staffed with assistance from the Jefferson County Board of Health, the Jefferson County Anti-Tuberculosis Association (through its Birmingham Health Association, a subsidiary serving the black community), the Julius Rosenwald Fund, the Alabama State Department of Health, and the Children's Bureau.
Patients had to demonstrate an inability to afford private health care. The maternity clinic, directed by Thomas Boulware, provided pre-natal care and obstetrics (in clinic delivery rooms or by house call), general pediatrics, dental care, tuberculosis treatment, and venereal disease detection and treatment. The clinic's diagnostic facilities were focused entirely on the detection of syphilis, and patients with other conditions were referred to other medical facilities. The clinic served as a training center for graduate students and also provided health education to the public. It stood out as a national example of a high-quality community health-care facility and as a key component of a publicly-funded system for preserving public health.
Programming for the education and recreation centers was provided by the National Youth Administration. Additional support came from a local "community chest" funded by area families. The Slossfield Branch Library and Lewis Elementary School were constructed in the community adjacent to the complex.
The Slossfield Community Center, now vacant, was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2008. In 2017 the Salvation Army, which renovated the nearby Lewis Elementary School into its Salvation Army Center of Hope, proposed to purchase the land from the city and renovate the long vacant community center site for a Worship and Community Outreach Center.
- Maddux, Walter H. (October 8, 1940) "The Slossfield Health Center". Paper delivered to the American Public Health Association's 66th Annual Meeting in Detroit, Michigan. Reprinted May 1941 in the American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 31, pp. 481-6
- "For Supporting the Public Good" (May 2007) Birmingham Historical Society Newsletter. p. 4
- Nelson, Jennifer (Fall 2007) "Healthcare Reconsidered: Forging Community Wellness among African Americans in the South" Bulletin of the History of Medicine Vol. 81, No. 3, pp. 594-624
- Godwin, Brent (August 22, 2017) "Long vacant Birmingham property could be redeveloped." Birmingham Business Journal
- Garrison, Greg (May 9, 2018) "Salvation Army ready to renovate historic hospital" The Birmingham News