Thursday, August 21, 2008


Of course I have a postcard collection. I have a gynormous collection of everything paper. Torn paper, scrapbook paper, calendars from 20 years ago, old greetings cards, magazines, any and all kinds of books, ticket stubs, Chinese fortunes, stamps and photos. Paper, paper, paper, I love it!

Since this is postcard week on my blog, I thought you might enjoy seeing some vintage postcards I have collected of my hometown.

This train station was the showplace of the city. The Beaux Arts Byzantine style building built in 1909, was torn down in 1969. By all accounts the building was beautiful, but by the late 60s it had fallen into disrepair. The protests of preservationists were dismissed and the building was demolished.

Here is an interior photograph I found in the Birmingham Public Library archives.

TCI or Tennessee Coal and Iron Railroad Co was located on the western side of town. The steel industry was a major employer and played a large part in the development of the city. This postcard is of the Fairfield Tin Plate Mill which later became known as U.S. Steel. This plant was not far from my childhood home. I remember sweeping black coal dust from our front porch each summer morning during childhood. This was before the strict anti-polluting laws went into effect in the 60s.

The Alabama Theater is called the Showplace of the South because of it ornate beauty. It was built in 1927 by Paramount Studios as a showcase for their films. The theater featured a Wurlitzer organ which rose out of the floor. "When the Alabama Theatre was built in 1927, films were silent and required a musical accompaniment. This was typically provided by an orchestra or theatre pipe organ. The Alabama's organ is a Crawford Special-Publix One Mighty Wurlitzer. Only 25 of this model of organ were built and the Alabama's is one of only three still installed in their original sites." In the 80s this theater would have gone the way of the terminal station except for the efforts of Birmingham Landmarks, Inc which started the process of restoring it to its former grandeur. Today, it is a venue for all types of entertainment including weekly showings of classic movies. This postcard seems to be from the late 50s or early 60s judging by the age of the cars in it.

Here is an interior shot of the stage. Don't you agree, it is fabulous! Every time I go there I crane my neck to see all the ornamentation. Even the ladies room is worth checking out.

Here is a picture of the organ. Many times before the cartoons and feature films are played the organ will rise out of the stage floor and there will be a old fashioned sing along with the audience.

A trip to the Alabama is always a treat. If you ever visit my city, be sure to inquire about a tour of the theater. You won't be disappointed.


  1. Paper paper paper! Yes, I agree, saving interesting bits of paper is a lifetime habit that never seems to go away....I have boxes full and it's odd the sort of things you just can't part with...paper memorabilia is wonderful. Your vintage postcards are indeed a window into a bygone era. That theatre interior is so opulent, really beautiful.

    I'm getting excited about this postcard swap!

  2. Me, too. I have boxes of wonderful ephemera. Most vintage bookshops have boxes of old postcards, ads, programs and such waiting for me to pour over. I like to choose a book and a lovely piece of vintage paper to take home with me. As if I don't have quite enough already!

    Love your theater pix!

  3. Like you, my dad collects vintage postcards of Birmingham. We grew going to the Alabama... it's a magical place for me.

  4. Mod Girl, I would love to know what your Dad's favorite B'ham postcards picture. Two of my personal favorites are the 50 or early 60 era linen card of the Baptist church I grew up in and the 1910 card of the high school I graduated from. I found both on Ebay.

    Lavinia and Willow, you are both paper fanatics after my own heart!

  5. I'm trying to remember what all I've seen at the Alabama: White Christmas, the old Phantom of the Opera silent movie, a play (Love Letters, I think it was) and other shows.

    Just being there is a treat. There's gorgeously restored beauty everywhere your eye falls...

  6. Hi Beth, see you soon!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. I love old theatres! It's hard to think that so many have been torn down.

    And yes, I have a enormous collection of paper treasures!

  8. I have lots of paper too! Old LIFE magazines are a favortie of mine to collect, and I still have the comic books from my childhood -- "Little Audrey," "Dot & Slugo," and "Archie." :-)

    I'm so glad that old theater was preserved. All the old architectural finishes are so beautiful! And that organ -- wow-- magnificent!

    Sadly all the old Brooklyn theaters that I remember like this one from the vaudville era were all converted into revival churches or torn down.

  9. I would love to come... am trying to think where I went during my American Contiki tour (it was a long time ago and its a bit of a blur!!).

    When we finally come back there (SSB and kids have never set foot in America) we shall have to add your city to our itenary!!!



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