Alabama Sawyer’s Not So Secret Diary
Please note that “Famous in AL” is a series of blog posts on famous historical Alabama sites for the purpose of celebrating all of the culture and history that can be found in our own state.
Downtown Birmingham Alabama is home to the famous Alabama Theatre which hosts events ranging from movie screenings to concerts and much more. With beautiful architecture and décor; it won 2011's, "Building of the Year Award from the Alabama Architectural Foundation" ("About the Alabama".) To illustrate the Alabama Theatre’s importance to Birmingham, here is a brief history of the theatre:
Constructed in 1927 as a way to showcase Paramount movies, it was primarily used as a theatre for the following 55 years. Exceptions to this were The Miss Alabama Pageant and the Mickey Mouse Club, first held at the AL Theatre in 1933. MMC sponsored several different charity campaigns for the needy and closed down ten years after staring up. Additionally, the Alabama Theatre hosted the Miss Alabama Pageant from the mid 30's to the 60's. When Birmingham declined in the 60's and 70's, the Alabama underwent multiple changes in ownership. It had to be shut down a few times during that period, but was eventually bought by Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. in 1987 after a fundraiser saved it from ruin. In 1998 the theatre underwent major renovation/ restoration, and now looks like what we know it as today: ("About the Alabama".)
According to its website, the Alabama Theatre's 1998 renovation transformed it from its, "faded grandeur to a sparkling 1927 look with all the gold leaf paint either replaced or cleaned. In addition to the restoration, new carpet was installed in the ladies lounge and new drapes were installed on the stage and organ chambers" ("About the Alabama".) Since the theatre was built in the 20's, it’s home to a famous organ used during silent film screenings. The Mighty Wurlitzer (a fancy type of organ) is a famous relic, and according to the Alabama Theatre's website, the reason the building was spared from destruction. Interestingly enough, the organ is nick named Big Bertha ("About the Alabama".) Without Big Bertha the Alabama would have been demolished since the realtors, "refused to sell it separately. Undeterred, the group [Birmingham Landmarks, Inc.] continued to find support and ultimately raised enough funds to purchase not just the organ but the entire facility" ("About the Alabama".)
It’s a spectacular place, and if you’ve never been, I’d suggest you visit at least once in your life. Pictures really don't do it justice.