Welcome to the Birmingham History Center

Magic Moments
O'Brien's Opera House
Just one of scores of Birmingham theaters to meet the wrecking ball
In 1878, future Jefferson County sheriff and Birmingham mayor, Frank O'Brien, bought 125 feet of frontage at the nor...
View Magic Moment Archives

Can You Repeat That? for the holidays
Thanks to Brighthouse, our popular summer quiz show, Can You Repeat That? has been captured on video...Read More...
Volunteers arise
BHC is seeking a volunteer to help with a summer Game Show performance.Read More...
View Archives
Donate TO BHC

   Arlington Antebellum Homes and Gardens
   331 Cotton Ave, SW
   Birmingham, AL  35211
   Tel. 205-780-5656

    Arlington is a fine example of Greek revival architecture dating 
    from the 1840s.  In March of 1865, Union General James
    Wilson arrived with over 13,000 troops, using the home as his 
Major General James Harrison WilsonOne hundred and fifty years ago, in mid-March 1865, as the Confederate States of America struggled through its final days, Union Major General James Harrison Wilson began a month-long cavalry raid that laid waste to much of the productive capacity of Alabama and Georgia.

In a war where cavalry troops were under-utilized, frequently mixed with infantry troops, or simply relegated to hauling supplies and delivering mail, Wilson's approach to warfare was innovative: he used his 13,000 horsemen, without any infantry troops, in lightning quick raids against the productive centers of the Deep South. Much of the area from central Mississippi to central Georgia remained relatively unscathed, even in the late stages of the Civil War (1861-65). Consequently, cities like Selma and Montgomery, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia, survived as vital shipping points and major producers of Confederate war supplies. Wilson's aim was twofold: to destroy this critical supply link and to prevent the region from becoming the site of a Confederate last stand.

Using original photographs and maps, Jerry Desmond, the Director of the Birmingham History Center, will present a broad summary of Wilson's Raid and its tragic consequences for Central Alabama.
The latest from 1807 Blog Avenue

How Ambrose Bierce used a news item from Birmingham to write a short story.

In 1890, Ambrose Bierce, an author and journalist, famous for his short story
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," used a sensational news item posted from Birmingham, Alabama for a remarkable short story. 

Click here for the story.   
Grape shot, musket ball, ball bearing, or what?
The Avondale neighborhood is never out of the news, a hipster enclave sporting trendy shops to new restaurants and Birmingham's first "craft" brewery since the free-the-hops legislation. As such, businesses have mined the area's history to give historic continuity to their new creations. Avondale Brewing Company has adopted the park's former zoo exhibit, the circus elephant Ms. Fancy, as its mascot. The park itself underwent a $2.8 million re-construction in 2011. And not long ago, a Birmingham metal detector enthusiast dug up an artifact that recalls Avondale's legendary place in Civil War history--the site of Jefferson County's only blood shed in a military engagement. And we use that term loosely. Click here to read more. 
A current event
Showcasing History Center Artifacts

   Irondale Furnace artifacts from the History   
   Center's collection can be
found in a case at
   the M
ountain Brook City Hall.  The Irondale
   Furnace, located in present-day Mountain
   Brook, went into operation in 1863, producing
   pig i
ron for the Confederacy.  It was destroyed
   by fire and explosion by Federal troops during
   Wilson's Raid in March of 1865. 

Irondale Furnace, c.1864

                                  Irondale Furnace, c.1864

History Center artifact cases can also be found in the Alabama Theatre lobby and the lobby of the Tutwiler Hotel.


Follow Us
Designed By Jacinta Elliott   |   Powered By WideNet