The Woodward Building is a 10-story, 132 foot tall Chicago-style office tower built on the southwest corner of 20th Street and 1st Avenue North in 1902. The building was financed by William Woodward from the proceeds of his sale of Woodward Iron Company, and was one of the earlier designs of architect William Weston, who collaborated with the Stone Brothers, Architects of New Orleans, Louisiana on the design. It was the first steel-framed building erected in Birmingham. As such, the general contractor, Ino Griffiths and Son, was brought down from Chicago, Illinois. The cost of construction was $350,000.
No building yet built in Birmingham was nearly so large or tall, and serious doubts were raised about the ability of the local office market to absorb the added space. The criticisms recalled those that followed the erection of Linn's Folly on the opposite corner 30 years earlier. Nevertheless, the Woodward Building was fully leased at completion and was eagerly followed within a few years by several larger office towers, including three others at the same intersection.
The Woodward Building features a light brown brick façade divided into triple window bays by tall pilasters. The deep cornice is an elaborately-detailed metal construction of the type common in commercial architecture of the time. The interior was finished with tile and marble wainscot in the corridors, oak paneling in the offices, and a monumental wrought-iron and marble stair.
By the time the American Trust and Savings Bank Building was completed in 1912, the four skyscrapers at 20th Street and 1st Avenue were being billed as the "Heaviest Corner in the South." Over the years, that claim was inflated to the improbable "Heaviest Corner on Earth", which remains a popular name for the grouping.
In the 1930s the lower floors were re-clad with dark-green and black polished granite.
On July 29, 1950, shortly after the Birmingham City Commission made membership in the Communist Party a misdemeanor punishable by jail time, an unknown person dropped hundreds of leaflets from the window of a 10th floor bathroom onto the street below. The leaflets, printed by the Alabama Communist Party, urged readers to support India's offer to arbitrate the Korean conflict and the application of China to join the United Nations.
In 1983 the Woodward Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1985 Doster Construction completed an interior and exterior renovation designed by Kidd, Plosser and Sprague. The new work included a restoration of the first and second levels and the addition of an enclosed parking garage and a two-story curtain-walled extension toward Morris Avenue.
- 201: former location of Anthony Malavazos physician (1926)
- 203: former location of J. E. Garrison physician (1926)
- 207: former location of American District Telegraph Co. (1926)
- 209-210: former location of Roberts Johnson & Rand (1926)
- 211: former location of H. B. Whiteside physician (1926)
- 211-212: former location of Main & Company loans (1934)
- 214: former location of The Broadstreet Co. (1926)
- 218-219: former location of Maryland Casualty Co. (1926)
- 220: former location of J. T. Coulborn/H. P. Levy physicians (1926)
- 222-223: former location of Guardian Life Insurance Co. (1926)
- 225: former location of Woodward Stenographic Bureau (1926)
- 309-311: former location of Jerome Meyer/H. R. Carter Jr (1926)
- 314-317: former location of Estes Real Estate & Insurance Co. (1926)
- 318-319: former location of W. S. Sewell physician (1926)
- 326: former location of The Brick Exchange (1926)
- 403: former location of Electropoise Co./McCrossin Whole Grain Wheat Co./Beard Artz-McCrossin Coal Co. (1926)
- 405-408: former location of Southern Pacific Lines (1926)
- 407: former location of W. C. Weston architect (1904), Personal Finance Co. (1934)
- 411-417: former location of Union Central Life Insurance Co. (1926)
- 425: former location of J. C. Turner architect (1904)
- 509-510: former location of J. L. Willingham Co./Webb Realty Co./J. M. Hicks (1926)
- 513-518: former location of R. G. Dun & Co. (1926)
- 520-524: former location of Birmingham Compress Corp./Howel Cotton Company of Birmingham (1926)
- 601-604: former location of Morgan-Hill Paving Co. (1926)
- 605-607: former location of Kershaw Mining Co./C. G. Kershaw Contracting Co. (1926)
- 614: former location of Seaboard Air Line Railroad (1926)
- 620: former location of Isthmian Coal & Trading Co./Warrior View Coal Co./Borden Coal Co. (1926)
- 622: former location of Electric Blue Printing Co. (1926)
- 7th floor: former location of Republic Iron & Steel Co. (1926)
- 801-808: former location of A. J. Ribe/Lumbermen's Traffic Association (1926)
- 810: former location of Retail Credit Co. (1926)
- 814: former location of St Louis & San Francisco Railroad (1926)
- 903-904: former location of Shephard Electric Crane & Hoist Co./R. B. Clarke & Co. (1926)
- 905-906: former location of New York Central Lines (1926)
- 923: former location of International Correspondence School (1926)
- 925-926: former location of Rucker & Staggers physicians (1926)
- 930: former location of Iron Clad Hosiery Mill (1926)
- 1007-1010: former location of Missouri Pacific Lines (1926)
- 1014-1015: former location of P. S. Mewhinney, architect (1926), Salie & Mewhinney, architects
- 1020-1021: former location of Texas & Pacific Railway Co. (1926)
- 1025-1029: former location of Birmingham Clay Products Co./Rust Engineering (1926)
- "Birmingham's reds drop leaflets off 12-story building." (July 30, 1950) Sunday Star-News (Wilmington, North Carolina)
- White, Marjorie Longenecker, ed. (1977) Downtown Birmingham: Architectural and Historical Walking Tour Guide. Birmingham:Birmingham Historical Society.
- Satterfield, Carolyn Green (1986) Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama. Revised edition. Birmingham: Jefferson County Historical Commission/Gray Printing Company
- Jefferson County Historical Commission. (1998) Birmingham and Jefferson County, Alabama Images of America Series. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN0752413465