Sterling Foster residence

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The Sterling Foster residence was a large house constructed in 1913 for Sterling Foster, an insurance salesman and former pastor of South Highland Presbyterian Church. The two-story, 4,430-square-foot Craftsman-style home, located at 2728 Niazuma Avenue, has also been used by Hugo Black, by the Red Mountain School, Aletheia House, and as the headquarters of the Alabama Federation of Women's Clubs.

Foster had inherited a sizable estate after the death of his mother and used it to finance the 4-bedroom, 3-bath house. His wife, Anne, hosted meetings of the Cadmean Circle there. Foster gradually sold off the family's former plantation land near Union Springs in Bullock County to support the family. When the estate had dwindled, those children, in turn, began supporting their parents.

In the 1921, the Foster's daughter, Josephine, married attorney Hugo Black in the parlor of the Foster house. The couple moved in with her parents in 1931 and Black quietly took possession of the house, relieving his parents-in-law of the tax and maintenance burden. Sterling and Anne later moved to suburban Washington D. C. to live with their other daughter, Virginia. The Blacks sold the house in the 1940s.

In 1972 the house was purchased by the trustees of the newly-formed Red Mountain School, an alternative high school that provided enrichment for gifted students outside of the mainstream public school systems. The school closed in 1978.

The property was subsequently purchased by Aletheia House as part of its residential program for treatment of substance abuse. By 1981 the Birmingham Historical Society, in surveying the Southside-Highlands area for the City and the Alabama Historical Commission, warned that the house was threatened with "demolition by neglect".

In 1983 the Alabama Federation of Women's Clubs (AFWC) purchased the property for its state-wide headquarters and archives. The house also provides accommodations for visiting members and meeting and receptions rooms for events. The AFWC has a "Foster House Club" which raises funds and devotes time to the upkeep, furnishing and improvement of the house.


  • Birmingham Historical Society. (1981) "Southside-Highlands Report: Architectural & Historical Resources. Preservation Recommendations." Survey and Preservation Plan undertaken for the City of Birmingham and the Alabama Historical Commission
  • Durr, Virginia Foster. (1985). Outside the Magic Circle: The Autobiography of Virginia Foster Durr. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press.
  • "Foster House - AFWC Headquarters" at the Alabama Federation of Women's Clubs website

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