Avondale Land Company

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The Avondale Land Company was a private company that financed the successful development of the suburb of Avondale, which was incorporated as the City of Avondale in 1889 and annexed into Birmingham in 1910. Avondale was one of the more successful suburban land ventures of Birmingham's streetcar era.

The company was incorporated on March 25, 1884 by Benjamin F. Roden, John B. Roden, and William Morris, with an initial capital of $150,000. Morris, who had been impressed with Cincinnati, Ohio's suburb named Avondale, suggested the name for the the company and its development. Robert Pearson and Henry DeBardeleben were brought on as partners in June 1884. The company had anticipated beginning the sale of lots late that summer, but were delayed for more than two years.

The company purchased its development parcel from Peyton King in 1886. Among the terms of the sale was a provision that the 40 rugged acres surrounding the famed Avondale spring remain dedicated as a public park. The company carried out improvements to the park property, and made it the southern anchor of the new town's business district, which followed the spring's outlet along "Spring Street" to Valley Creek. Engineer Martin Sumner, who also became a director of the company, platted the land as an extension of Birmingham street grid. The company also established a mule-drawn streetcar line along 1st Avenue North to a depot at the north end of Spring Street, soliciting picnickers park to view the district. The first lots were put up for sale in 1887.

Much of the early residents of the Avondale area were workers employed by the Alabama Great Southern Railroad, whose shops extended into the area, or the Southern Rolling Mill Company in East Birmingham. Avondale Mills opened in 1897, on a parcel sold to B. B. Comer by the Avondale Land Company just outside the town's limits. It was followed by the Smith Gin Company and the Avondale Stove & Foundry Company, which helped solidify the employment base for the community. While low-wage workers resided in mill villages and hastily-built duplexes north of the railroad tracks, the land company's lots fill with managers and supervisors, as well as merchants and professionals.