Tag Archives: architecture

Historic church prepares to rededicate sanctuary on December 7

FirstChurchexteriorUnless one looked closely at the red doors along 19th Street at Sixth Avenue North in recent months and noticed signs posted, there was no way to know there was a transformation taking place inside. This Sunday, members of Birmingham’s oldest United Methodist congregation will rededicate their 1892 sanctuary as the first phase of an estimated $1 million renovation effort.

First United Methodist Church will hold their service of re-dedication and restoration on Sunday, December 7 beginning at 11 a.m. to celebrate the occasion. It is the first major renovation project for its downtown campus since 1972. The work was completed by locally-based construction management firm Hoar Construction — the company’s second major project involving a place of worship in the city’s central business district in the last year — they have also been responsible for the $6.5 million restoration at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

The Richardsonian Romanesque Revival structure has seen walls and ceilings scraped and repaired along with new flooring and carpet runners throughout since work began this past summer. The color scheme used for repainting is more in keeping with the late Victorian period during which it was first constructed. (It was originally completed in 1892.) Additional work included the removal of drop ceilings throughout to expose the original tin; the refinishing of the sanctuary’s pews. An update posted to the church’s website (PDF, 6.8 MB) gives a glimpse of the detail work completed.

Additional work planned for the campus in the coming months includes an updating of their contemporary worship space as well as its HVAC, lighting, and plumbing systems.

In Love With: Deco Delights

Electra - Bob Farley/f8photoIn the 1920s and ‘30s, if you wanted your building to have a cool, modern look, you built it in the Art Deco style—all sleek lines, bold forms, and geometric shapes, reflecting the rise of technology. Hot spots for this style included New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, but Birmingham wasn’t left behind.

In fact, one of our Art Deco landmarks was something of a trendsetter. The old Alabama Power Building was praised by the London Daily Express as one of the most beautiful public utility buildings in the world—exciting, huh? But the more interesting fact is that the building was completed in 1925, the year often marked as the beginning of the Art Deco era (though the style had developed in Europe before then). Birmingham’s architects were ahead of the curve.

The Alabama Power Building is still very impressive today, even though its 18th Street location is surrounded by more modern forms of architecture. The façade is full of different shapes and colors, and you can’t help but move your eyes up the front of the building, following the vertical lines right to the rooftop, where you’ll find the golden statue of Electra brandishing her lightning bolts. Imagine how stunning this building looked to Birminghamians when it was new—especially since its neighborhood at the time was mostly residential!
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In Love With: Mid-century Modern

The Parliament House may be gone, but its swinging ‘60s spirit lives on just over Red Mountain. That’s where you’ll find Office Park, probably the greatest concentration of mid-century modern architecture in the Birmingham area.

You know mid-century modern architecture, with its sleek lines, cool facades, and prominent use of glass and metal. It can be beautiful (such as in the Parliament House’s circular lobby with the floating staircase) or hideous, and while that modern look was a dominant architectural style nationwide in the 1950s and 60s, Birmingham doesn’t seem to be teeming with examples from that era—except at Office Park.

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