Archive for the ‘Arlington School’ Category

>Arlington School Saved

March 25, 2009

>Be sure to read my Western Tribune column, which follows this post. It’s about Public Health history and the current economic situation.

At the Bessemer School Board meeting last night the Board voted to pass the following item: “Approval of the sale of the Arlington School Property located at 1901 Arlington Avenue, Bessemer, AL to ‘Housing for Birmingham, Inc.’ in the amount of $75,000. Mr. W. David Nichols is president.”

Of course, this is not a contract and although it seems from the conversation that the details have been worked out, they still have to be put in contract form and the transaction take place.

For those who are interested in details, board member Sam Morris made the motion and Hattie Aikerson seconded it. All the members with the exception of Christine Knight voted for the sale. Knight said that her no vote was because of her “passion for Arlington School” and that she knew the property would sell, and must sell. She indicated that the reason was because the board could not afford to restore the building. To me, “passion” for the building would mean making an effort to save it. But that’s just me. She seemed happy with the sale and the knowledge the building would be saved.

Would you go in this building? Well now you don’t have to. Take a tour here. A description of the building in the South Bessemer Inventory being updated for our Historic District project says “the entry-bay decorated Flemish-style parapet has been destroyed.” That’s not all, apparently.

This is the “jewel box theatre with a raked floor, proscenium stage, and horseshoe balcony” that was described as one of the treasured features of the building.


The balcony reminds me of the one in the church next door.

Of course the building, inside and out, is a reminder of what’s bad in our society.

KKK members (or wanna-be’s) were not happy so they vandalized the gymnasium about 18 years ago.


I wonder what these girls, identified as members of the Tutwiler Literary Society at the original Bessemer High School on Arlington Avenue would think if they saw the school today.

David Nichols plans to restore the building as a senior housing development. He told me this morning that he expects the project to take less than a year, once the sale is completed.

This is tremendous news, albeit belated, for the South Bessemer neighborhood. David and I spoke about renewing the effort for historical recognition. It’s going to happen. Do you want to help?

In a day or two I will be posting some information about another historic building nearby, and what the plans are.

>Spring Time in Bessemer

March 23, 2009

>The dwarf double flowering almond is one of the first things to bloom in our yard each spring, and it never disappoints. Except the flowers don’t last long enough. But isn’t that true of most flowers (and most other good things)?


In our little Zen Garden the maple tree is putting out blooms and leaves at the same time. People often comment that the leaves of these ornamental maples look like marijuana leaves. Speaking of (medical) marijuana, Loretta Nall had a great letter printed in the Montgomery Advertiser (although I can’t link to it) about HB434, the Michael Phillips Compassionate Care Act. Here is a link to the letter at her site.


I’m hoping my cousin or someone else can tell me what’s going on with this leaf. I found it a couple of week’s ago in the back yard while preparing to plant a grape vine. I searched around and did not see any others that looked the same. Plant virus? I don’t know.

The first Jonesboro Community Garden workday of 2009 was held Saturday, and several members of the Bessemer Historical Homeowners Association showed up to dig and plant and gossip about those who were not there. Not really, you know we wouldn’t gossip.

We planted a dogwood tree, a magnolia, four fruit trees and several vines and other plants. But gardening is not just planting. Here the old growth is being trimmed from some ornamental grasses, and crepe myrtles were trimmed as well.

Five camellias were planted. Notice a couple of things about this picture. Near the center, behind the camellias, is a redbud tree. There are several redbuds and pecan trees and nandinas along the fence that we are going to save to be part of the garden. But the fence will be cleaned up as well, and this has begun to the left. The old chain link fence is there because this was a school yard and it kept the kids in. Or the creeps out. We still want to keep the creeps out.


The Bessemer School Board will meet Tuesday, September 24, 2009 at 6:00 PM in the board room at their office at 1621 5th Ave N. The fate of Arlington School is on the agenda. Let’s hope they save it, and let’s be there in support. If they choose to destroy it, in a few decades will progressive neighbors be working to create a garden on the site, like in Jonesboro? We have enough vacant lots crying out to be tended as it is, and we think we can have both significant historic buildings and beautiful gardens.

>Arlington School and The Past

March 20, 2009

>Update: The Bessemer School Board will meet Tuesday, September 24, 2009 at 6:00 PM in the board room at their office at 1621 5th Ave N.

This is Arlington School. It was built in 1908 and was Bessemer’s first high school. It sits at the corner of Arlington Avenue and 19th Street in Bessemer. It has been empty for years. Well, empty of students. Drug dealers and vagrants and rats have occupied the building from time to time. This picture was taken two years ago, the building looks worse now.

The School Board will decide next week what to do with the building. They have had offers from developers but have refused the offers. In the meantime, the building deteriorates. The city wants to get their wrecking ball out.

I wrote about the school here and here (and several other places) and Alabama Heritage magazine described the property in this way: “A fine example of classical revival school building from the turn of the last century, the Arlington School, built in 1908, was Bessemer’s first high school. Its most distinguishing features are the decorative brick and stone facade, interior sky-lighted basketball courts, and an auditorium in the form of a jewel box theatre with a raked floor, proscenium stage, and horseshoe balcony. Once a part of a thriving middle class neighborhood, the Arlington School was abandoned in the early 1980s. Now dilapidated and out of use, the school’s state of disrepair is indicative of the decline in the surrounding neighborhood…”


The next picture was taken yesterday of West End High School in Birmingham. The school is being demolished. Just to the right of the frame was written West End High School 1930, I assume that was the year it was built. Don’t let this happen to Arlington.

This is my dad. He was born in 1916. He went to Woodlawn High School.

In 1930 my dad would have been around fourteen years old, so he may not have been at Woodlawn yet, where he became a football star. But he had football in him long before he entered high school. He probably played against West End while at Woodlawn. Maybe they even played against Arlington.


Later he married his sweetheart. Weren’t my parents a good looking couple?


They later ended up with us four boys. Guess which one is me?

See, I feel connected to my parent’s past, even though I wasn’t around. And the people of Bessemer feel connected to Arlington School. When I was campaigning for City Council the subject of the school came up with many residents that I spoke with, and they all wanted the building saved. Many of the people who attended that school are no longer with us, but their children and grandchildren are. Hopefully they will let the school board know that the building needs to be saved. The Board of Education meets Tuesday night. When I find out where and what time the Board meets, I will post it on this blog.

>Arlington School On Last Leg

August 13, 2008

>Bessemer School Superintendent Deborah Horn has been informed that the city might condemn and demolish Arlington school. If they do, the school board will have to pay the cost. Story

Arlington school was built in 1908 and was the city’s first high school. David Nichols offered to buy the school for $50,000 and restore it but the board refused his offer and upped the price, so the building remained empty and declined further.

So instead of receiving $50,000 for the school now the board might have to pay. And the city might lose one of its most historic landmarks.

Alabama Heritage Magazine described the property this way:

A fine example of classical revival school building from the turn of the last century, the Arlington School, built in 1908, was Bessemer’s first high school. Its most distinguishing features are the decorative brick and stone facade, interior sky-lighted basketball courts, and an auditorium in the form of a jewel box theatre with a raked floor, proscenium stage, and horseshoe balcony. Once a part of a thriving middle class neighborhood, the Arlington School was abandoned in the early 1980s. Now dilapidated and out of use, the school’s state of disrepair is indicative of the decline in the surrounding neighborhood…”

The school board, interested developers like Nichols, and the City Council need to work together quickly to save this building. With the burning of Red Rock across the street from the school there is a real opportunity to clean up the intersection. But demolishing Arlington school is not the way to do it.

Hope for Arlington School, Little Hope for Republicans

January 16, 2008

Judging from the number of emails and contacts I have received after my post about Artur Davis I am sure people will be visiting Bessemer Opinions (as well as Birmingham Blues to read Kathy’s post) to read it today. Just scroll down or use the above link.

The Republicans are no closer to deciding who they want after yesterday’s Michigan primary, which Romney won, than they were six months ago but we know we don’t want this person to be our next president.

Mike Huckabee doesn’t just want to “amend” the constitution, he wants to “amen” it.

And I thought we were close to a theocracy now. But at least we can rest assured that the democratic controlled congress would never attempt to amend the consitution in this way…would they?

And speaking of “amends” did you see Chris Matthews trying to make some with the Hillary camp after last nights Mod Squad (one black, one white, one blonde) debate. Matthews, who insulted Hillary, Bill, Barack and the entire list of democratic voters in new Hampshire last week declared Hillary the winner of the debate and praised her “power play” that restored her to the front runner position in the race. The momentum grows.

In Bessemer, what might be the most important story of the (15 day) year was buried in the Birmingham News today, on page 3B under “Government Roundup”.

Bessemer

Arlington school declared surplus

The school board Tuesday voted unaminously to declare the former Arlinton school building surplus property.

Why: The land must be declared surplus before the board can sell it.

History: The building, constructed in 1908, housed Bessemer’s first high school. It was later an elementary school and closed in the 1980’s. Since then various groups have proposed uses for the building, including converting it into apartments for senior citizens.


Now we just have to hope that whoever they sell it to realizes the historical significance of the building and restores it to be used in way that benefits our historic southside community as well as the entire city. Alabama Heritage magazine described the property in this way, “A fine example of classical revival school building from the turn of the last century, the Arlington School, built in 1908, was Bessemer’s first high school. Its most distinguishing features are the decorative brick and stone facade, interior sky-lighted basketball courts, and an auditorium in the form of a jewel box theatre with a raked floor, proscenium stage, and horseshoe balcony. Once a part of a thriving middle class neighborhood, the Arlington School was abandoned in the early 1980s. Now dilapidated and out of use, the school’s state of disrepair is indicative of the decline in the surrounding neighborhood…”

Stay tuned.

Just added:

Hillary Clinton called Bush “pathetic” and so does Kathy. He’s pitiful.

>Hope for Arlington School, Little Hope for Republicans

January 16, 2008

>Judging from the number of emails and contacts I have received after my post about Artur Davis I am sure people will be visiting Bessemer Opinions (as well as Birmingham Blues to read Kathy’s post) to read it today. Just scroll down or use the above link.

The Republicans are no closer to deciding who they want after yesterday’s Michigan primary, which Romney won, than they were six months ago but we know we don’t want this person to be our next president.

Mike Huckabee doesn’t just want to “amend” the constitution, he wants to “amen” it.

And I thought we were close to a theocracy now. But at least we can rest assured that the democratic controlled congress would never attempt to amend the consitution in this way…would they?

And speaking of “amends” did you see Chris Matthews trying to make some with the Hillary camp after last nights Mod Squad (one black, one white, one blonde) debate. Matthews, who insulted Hillary, Bill, Barack and the entire list of democratic voters in new Hampshire last week declared Hillary the winner of the debate and praised her “power play” that restored her to the front runner position in the race. The momentum grows.

In Bessemer, what might be the most important story of the (15 day) year was buried in the Birmingham News today, on page 3B under “Government Roundup”.

Bessemer

Arlington school declared surplus

The school board Tuesday voted unaminously to declare the former Arlinton school building surplus property.

Why: The land must be declared surplus before the board can sell it.

History: The building, constructed in 1908, housed Bessemer’s first high school. It was later an elementary school and closed in the 1980’s. Since then various groups have proposed uses for the building, including converting it into apartments for senior citizens.


Now we just have to hope that whoever they sell it to realizes the historical significance of the building and restores it to be used in way that benefits our historic southside community as well as the entire city. Alabama Heritage magazine described the property in this way, “A fine example of classical revival school building from the turn of the last century, the Arlington School, built in 1908, was Bessemer’s first high school. Its most distinguishing features are the decorative brick and stone facade, interior sky-lighted basketball courts, and an auditorium in the form of a jewel box theatre with a raked floor, proscenium stage, and horseshoe balcony. Once a part of a thriving middle class neighborhood, the Arlington School was abandoned in the early 1980s. Now dilapidated and out of use, the school’s state of disrepair is indicative of the decline in the surrounding neighborhood…”

Stay tuned.

Just added:

Hillary Clinton called Bush “pathetic” and so does Kathy. He’s pitiful.

Bringing Bessemer Back, Mr. Mayor

April 15, 2007

Bessemer is undergoing some changes, but we need more.

Here is a picture of the interior of Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church, undergoing renovation. The new congregation is saving a historic building of great importance to the city of Bessemer.

The former South Highland Baptist Church is recognized as a historic structure.

Now if we could make progress on Arlington School. I believe the School Board is now the hold up on this project, they need to move forward and let interested groups take control of this property.

And of course, we need to demolish structures, whether they are historic or not, that are no longer salvageable. I realize I have published picures of this bulding before, but I will keep reminding people of our city’s unwillingness to take care of problems that can only described as “blight.” This structure provides a breeding ground for vermin and becomes an unsafe playground when young children go exploring. Is it stretching it to say that leaving structures such as this around our city, and not promoting litter control and neighborhood beautification projects by our city leaders is their way of keeping the people down? Just where they want us? If the mayor and council wanted the city to look better and to be better, could they not do it? If they really wanted more educated and productive people to move to Bessemer, would they not take care of these problems that our image is based on? Or do they like Bessemer just as it is. The mayor is on TV proclaiming “Bessemer Is Back” and touting Academy Drive developements and the Colonial Properties development near I-459. Joy. We get to be like Trussville! Not that anything is wrong with Trussville.

But Bessemer is unique. We don’t need to be like any of the other communities surrounding Birmingham, although we may occasionally refer to them. But we can be better. By preserving the rich history we have in architecture (both downtown and in our neighborhoods). By recognizing and celebrating the diversity of our population and culture. The Sweet House sits across the corner from the Arlington School. Fully restored, it stands in stark contrast to the deteriorating school (and the drug den on the other corner).

And we can begin this by nurturing respect for ourselves and our neighbors. It’s hard to respect someone, and even harder to lift them up, if you don’t know them. When we begin to show respect for our community we will see it looking cleaner. When we begin to show respect for our family members we will see kids doing better in school. And when we begin to teach respect to our children for the property and well being of others, we will begin to see crime decrease, and litter disappear, and vandalism decrease.

I am going to meet with Earl later this week to discuss issues that I think are important to our district and to the city. If you have suggestions, let me know.

Oh, and I saw a fledgling towhee this morning, so the wild bird population continues to grow in our backyard. Couldn’t get a picture of this one, though. And you will notice a couple of new pictures over to the left of flowers blooming. you can look forward to seeing more roses over the next few weeks.

>Bringing Bessemer Back, Mr. Mayor

April 15, 2007

>Bessemer is undergoing some changes, but we need more.

Here is a picture of the interior of Broken Vessel Full Gospel Church, undergoing renovation. The new congregation is saving a historic building of great importance to the city of Bessemer.

The former South Highland Baptist Church is recognized as a historic structure.

Now if we could make progress on Arlington School. I believe the School Board is now the hold up on this project, they need to move forward and let interested groups take control of this property.

And of course, we need to demolish structures, whether they are historic or not, that are no longer salvageable. I realize I have published picures of this bulding before, but I will keep reminding people of our city’s unwillingness to take care of problems that can only described as “blight.” This structure provides a breeding ground for vermin and becomes an unsafe playground when young children go exploring. Is it stretching it to say that leaving structures such as this around our city, and not promoting litter control and neighborhood beautification projects by our city leaders is their way of keeping the people down? Just where they want us? If the mayor and council wanted the city to look better and to be better, could they not do it? If they really wanted more educated and productive people to move to Bessemer, would they not take care of these problems that our image is based on? Or do they like Bessemer just as it is. The mayor is on TV proclaiming “Bessemer Is Back” and touting Academy Drive developements and the Colonial Properties development near I-459. Joy. We get to be like Trussville! Not that anything is wrong with Trussville.

But Bessemer is unique. We don’t need to be like any of the other communities surrounding Birmingham, although we may occasionally refer to them. But we can be better. By preserving the rich history we have in architecture (both downtown and in our neighborhoods). By recognizing and celebrating the diversity of our population and culture. The Sweet House sits across the corner from the Arlington School. Fully restored, it stands in stark contrast to the deteriorating school (and the drug den on the other corner).

And we can begin this by nurturing respect for ourselves and our neighbors. It’s hard to respect someone, and even harder to lift them up, if you don’t know them. When we begin to show respect for our community we will see it looking cleaner. When we begin to show respect for our family members we will see kids doing better in school. And when we begin to teach respect to our children for the property and well being of others, we will begin to see crime decrease, and litter disappear, and vandalism decrease.

I am going to meet with Earl later this week to discuss issues that I think are important to our district and to the city. If you have suggestions, let me know.

Oh, and I saw a fledgling towhee this morning, so the wild bird population continues to grow in our backyard. Couldn’t get a picture of this one, though. And you will notice a couple of new pictures over to the left of flowers blooming. you can look forward to seeing more roses over the next few weeks.