The Birmingham Terminal Station was the main passenger station for Birmingham, Alabama fro 1906 until the 1950s. The station filled two blocks of 26th street (now Carraway Boulevard). It was the main stop for out-of-town visitors, but when automobile and air travel came, the building was neglected and led to demolition in 1969.
In the 20th century,
Birmingham has seven railroads, six of which were joined together to form the
Birmingham Terminal Company. This company wanted to develop a landmark
passenger station. They purchase First Congregational Christian Church and
other parcels in 1905 for property to this project.
company hired P.Thornton Mayre, and architect, to make plans for this
structure. His design was a Beaux-Arts inspired structure with a sixty-four-foot
sky lit dome over the waiting room, and the interior walls in a Tennessee
marble. The exterior of the building was a light brown brick. The central
waiting room covered 7,600 square feet and was covered with a central dome 64
feet in diameter. Connected to the waiting room was the ticket office, ladies’
waiting room, a smoking room, barber shop, news stand, and a telephone booth.
Architects have described the station as Birmingham Baroque. The
construction took two years and cost two million dollars. It's opening in 1909
was a major event for the city and included a balloon race and a parade.
In 1926 a big sign outside the station was put up and read,
Birmingham, the Magic City. In 1952, the sign was tore down because
the railroad station was no longer the main entrance to the city due to automobiles
and air craft.
During the Depression, the station fell, but in the late 1930s it again became
an important transportation for the area. In 1943, the station got a $500,000
renovation which included new paint, new interior fixtures, and sandblasting.
The station continued as the primary transportation up until the early
1960 only about twenty-six trains per day went through Terminal Station, compared
to the fifty-six trains in the 1950s. As early as 1962 the Terminal Station was
being considered for redevelopment. William Engel and Engel Realty approached
Southern Railroad, the current owner of the station, with plans of a 10-million-dollar
project to be put on the land currently held by the station. They planned for a
new, smaller station, Social Security building, two office buildings, and a
large motel. The new development would create about 3,000 jobs, but would
include tearing down the building. Ultimately the redevelopment plans were
never built, and the Social Security built a new office elsewhere in 1974.
railroad applied to Alabama Public Service Commission for permission to
demolish the building, and on June 30, 1969 the commission approved the
request. They had to set aside the arguments of preservationists in saying the
only considered “the necessity and convenience of the traveling public”. The
Terminal Station no longer met those needs of travel. The Birmingham Terminal
Station was demolished September 22, 1969. The Birmingham Station joined the
ranks of the lost structure.