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  • Britney Heerten

Unique Architecture in Alabama

You may not know it, but there are some architectural gems right here in Alabama. Here are a few interesting places you may want to see.


1. Hermit Hut at Tolstoy Park

This small, 14-foot diameter, concrete hut, located in Fairhope, AL was built by Henry Stuart on his property of 10 wooded acres. Stuart moved to Alabama from Idaho after being diagnosed with Tuberculosis in 1923 to live out the rest of his life in a warmer environment. During the TB epidemic, doctors would advise TB patients to move to warm, sunny environments. Prior to the invention of the antibiotic used to treat TB in 1943, doctors did not fully understand the disease and were unsure of how it was spread. It seems that Stuart had a plan to live out the remainder of his life as simple as possible, in seclusion in order to prevent spreading TB. He was told he only had months, but he lived for 22 more years and ended up selling his estate and moving to Oregan where he spent the actual last of his days. Stuart's guestbook, which visitors would sign when they came to visit the hut, accumulated up to 1,200 names. He was not a hermit in the end and actually inspired many people. One man, Sonny Brewer wrote a book inspired by Stuart called, "The Poet of Tolstoy Park."


The home is built 16 inches into the ground to help regulate the temperature of the structure and has 2 skylights in the ceiling to bring in the natural light. The bed would have been a hammock that could be accessed by a latter to save floor space. For more info click here.


2. The Rosenbaum House

Frank Lloyd Wright designed this home for Stanley and Mildred Rosenbaum in Florence, Alabama. The home was built in 1940 and Wright designed an addition in 1948 to accommodate the growing family. This style of home was called the Usonian style. Wright was trying to develop a home for the middle class that was simple and cost-efficient. Wright believed that the beauty of nature should be showcased and floor-to-ceiling windows were installed to bring nature into the home as well as provide plenty of natural light to save on lighting costs. Click here to learn more about Wright's Usonian style homes. To learn more about the Rosenbaum family click here.

3. Wallace-Beasley House, Paul Rudolph House

Paul Randolph graduated, from Auburn University, with a degree in architecture and went on to receive his master's degree, from Yale University. Randolph is known for his use of concrete in architecture. This home in Athens, AL was designed in the style of Southern Greek Revival for Randolph's friend, John Warner Wallace, and his wife Frances Garth Wallace. The home was featured in the February 26, 1965 issue of Life magazine.


4. The Alabama Theatre and the Lyric Theatre

The Alabama Theatre was built in 1927 by Paramount-Publix Corporation as a movie house. This beautiful 1920s theatre is still in operation and hosts movies, plays, and more. The Alabama Theatre is one of the most beautiful and elaborate interior spaces in the city of Birmingham.


The Lyric Theatre is a beautifully restored interior space in Birmingham. This theatre was built in 1914 as a Vaudeville theatre. It sat abandoned for a while, but thankfully it did not meet the same fate as many other Birmingham Vaudville theatres which were demolished.


5. Lineville and Marvel Water Towers

These two Alabama towns have something in common. They both have water towers shaped like medieval sentry towers that were built in the early 1900s.


Lineville's tower was built in 1917. Graphite mining, corn and cotton farming, and the lumber industry were all major businesses in the early stages of the Lineville community. In 1907 this community gained its first railroad and by 1917 they had electricity and a water tower. The tower is now on the list of Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.


I could not find a specific year for the Marvel, AL tower, but the tower was built to serve the mining town that operated from the early 1900s-1950s.

Lineville Left - Marvel Right




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