Tag: ‘birmingham’

Can the Lyric Theater be saved?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I’m always overwhelmed by the underdeveloped potential in Birmingham, and never more so than yesterday when Bob and I toured the Lyric Theater.  As Glenny Brock, the Lyric’s strongest advocate, proclaimed, “With the Alabama Theater, The Lyric Theater (across the street), the McWane Science Center, The Pizitz Building, Carver Theater,  (and other downtown landmarks) along with Mayor William Bell’s strong support, we already HAVE an entertainment district downtown.”

Certainly, we have the amazing historic structures, but Birmingham’s landmarks need financial support if they are to remain.  Remember the fate of Birmingham’s Terminal Station….And since 2009, The Lyric’s been among buildings listed on Alabama Historical Commission’s “Places in Peril”.

To those who might claim that it would draw business away from the Alabama Theater (now booked 325 days a year), Glenny counters, “The Alabama Theater was built for ‘moving pictures’ with 2200 seats, and The Lyric Theater was built for live performances with 1200 seats and 12 dressing rooms.  It’s much better suited for some of the small, live performances now booked for the Alabama.  And Willie Nelson has been turned away twice because of scheduling difficulties.  The theaters would actually complement each other and attract even more business.”

Glenny says that the original interior floor plan and finishes were almost identical to the now vibrant and completely restored Wells Theater in Norfolk, VA.  (Photos HERE)  It’s comparable to some of the best theater venues that New York has to offer.  The Story of the restoration of the Wells Theater in Norfolk, VA.

We can have that right here in Birmingham!  Years before Cecil Whitmire died, he asked Bob to render in watercolor what the Lyric could look like to solicit support (while insisting upon blue seating when the original seating was red!)  Here’s the watercolor below.  And Glenny has picked up the legacy left by Cecil Whitmire to solicit support  for the Lyric with passion and commitment.  But even the strongest advocates need the help and enthusiasm of others.  Glenny says that at one point in his life, even Cecil was frustrated and tired and ready to quit trying.  The Lyric and Glenny need our help.  If you have a group of fans, contact the Lyric for a tour.  And then, please  do what you can…   Can you help?

Lyric Theater Rendering


Can a fire at #Bham’s Powell School result in a #FOODREVOLUTION Phoenix? (watercolor)

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Another iconic structure in Birmingham is about to be torn down – Powell School.  And a last ditch effort is underway to restore it for a new use.  I hope you saw this article in the Birmingham News on May 31st, 2011  “Historic preservationists deserve a chance to see if they can restore Powell School, which was damaged by fire in January”  Ironically, Bob had recently completed the watercolor (below) that was to be used to attract attention and perhaps funding and redevelopment for the school before it burned.

So what now?  Here’s the remaining shell below.  We drove by again this morning and the damage is extensive and heartbreaking.  Obviously the roof is gone, and the upper floor has collapsed.  The $500,000 in insurance mentioned in the article above is just a drop in the bucket for restoration.  In order to save Powell School, this project will need a purpose and benevolent committed patrons who believe in that purpose with deep pockets.


So we’ve been thinking…   What’s a long-term issue supported nationally that will benefit Birmingham?  Well, we’ve decided that it could be the Food Revolution spearheaded by Jamie Oliver.  In Jamie Oliver’s words


“We’re losing the war against obesity in the US. It’s sad, but true. Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents. It’s time for change. It’s time for a Food Revolution.

“Since I’ve been working in America, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have come out to support the Food Revolution. More than 630,000 people have signed the petition, over 300,000 of you subscribe to our newsletter and thousands of you have written to me. The only message I keep hearing is that you believe your kids need better food, and that you want help to keep cooking skills alive. That’s why this Food Revolution matters.”  ~ Jamie Oliver

“The problem stems from the loss of cooking skills at home and the availability of processed foods at every turn, from the school cafeteria to church function halls, factories and offices. This Food Revolution is about saving lives by inspiring everyone: moms, dads, kids, teens and cafeteria workers to get back to basics and start cooking good food from scratch.”


If you haven’t seen the popular show, here’s the link.  Thanks to dedicated volunteers, Birmingham already has an edible garden for kids close by with Jones Valley Urban Farm.


So, Birmingham has Sam Frazier, a local historian who’s spearheading the movement to save the school.  It has Mayor Bell’s encouragement.  It has Frank Stitt, and Chris Hastings – both award-winning chefs who support the movement.  It has Whole Foods.  It has the new FoodBlogSouth and lots of food editors spawned by Southern Living.  Birmingham is really a food town and we should be leaders in this movement.  But sadly, Alabama ranks #2 of the fattest states 2011, and Birmingham ranks #10 among the fattest cities 2011 in America.   Our legacy can be better!


And back to Powell School…It’s got classrooms, a cafeteria, meeting areas, and history.  It’s near Jones Valley Urban Farm, and hundreds in our city know and love it.  The Food Revolution has the support of the nation, and the backing of First Lady Michelle Obama, along with lots of stars including Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, P Diddy, Jennifer Anniston – well, read the names for yourself here.

There are nearly a million people (and the numbers are growing every day) who’ve signed a petition in support of the Food Revolution.

It could be SUCH A POSITIVE THING FOR BIRMINGHAM!  Is it possible to hope that THE FOOD REVOLUTION could save Powell School, too?



Small watercolors of #Bham by Bob Moody to be exhibited Saturday

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Lots of 10″ x 10″ watercolors of Birmingham will be among those exhibited by Bob Moody at the Mountain Brook Art Association’s Annual Spring Sale in Crestline on Saturday.  He also has some recently completed watercolors of Auburn, Normandy, Tuscany, England, and images from his book, The Church Triumphant.  Small 10″ x 10″ unframed original watercolor images are $100, larger images range from $200 to $400.

The tent sale on the Crestline Elementary athletic fields is from 9AM to 5PM and includes over 100 artists living within a 25 mile radius of Mountain Brook.   Rain date is the following day.  Please click on the MBA logo at right for map and additional details.

Here’s a look (video) from this year’s show:

Mountain Brook Art Association Show 2011

Interested in exhibiting next year?  Details are HERE.

To view examples of Bob’s watercolors, please click HERE.    HOPE TO SEE YOU SATURDAY! Mountain Brook Art Association Show 2011


Curious about where the Trolley goes in Birmingham?

Friday, March 25th, 2011

We were!  After reading a recent post about the trolleys in Lawrenceville, GA providing a tour of historical sites, we wanted to know if we could do the same in Birmingham.  We wanted to know where our trolleys go,  what the schedule is, and how much is it to ride? Does it stop at Railroad Park? How often does it make a route?  And how can we turn this into a benefit for tourists and visitors?

Well, here’s the scoop! It costs 50¢!  And here’s the full schedule! It runs every 10-20 minutes on the three routes below and The Red Line stops at Terminal Station – near Railroad Park.  Currently it travels from the City Center to the Convention Center to Five Points South.  What are the tourism possibilities?  What COULD they be?  Stay tuned!


Maps of Birmingham’s Steelworks and Connecting Railroads

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Map of Birmingham's Steelworks hanging in Bessemer's Hall of History Museum



Watercolor by Bob Moody of Bessemer's Hall of History Museum (in former train station)

Early in the 20th century, railroads crisscrossed through Birmingham to connect steel mills and transport natural resources mined in our area throughout the country.  I found this old map (above) in Bessemer’s Hall of History Museum, housed in a refurbished and very interesting old train station (seen in watercolor on left), which put it in better perspective for me.  Many of these tracks and industrial sites have been abandoned and incredible images of the decay are posted HERE.  Bob wants to paint a map of the railroads currently in use through Birmingham, but it’s been difficult for us to find information and connect all the dots.  We’ll keep looking but suggestions are WELCOMED!



Segment of a 1935 Birmingham Railroad Map from www.bhamrails.info

Birmingham Rails is a GREAT site for Birmingham railroad information.  We found this 1935 rail map here This is just one small piece of a very extensive map scanned by Birmingham Rails in 8 1/2 x 11 inch segments and shows the downtown area.


Birmingham is RICH in railroads!

Friday, March 4th, 2011

With the recent focus on Railroad Park,  we’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the unique and expansive railroad history of Birmingham.   It inspired us to explore a few tracks in our area including


those downtown near Morris Avenue, but also those in Bessemer, Irondale, Ensley, Fairfield, and the coal loading rail-to-barge stations in Port Birmingham (also known as Bimingport) on the Warrior River.  We discovered that Birmingham Southern Railroad is one of the busiest railroads in the country.  And through sites called American Rails.com, and American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Wikipedia, Birmingham Historical Society, and an excellent local hobbyist site called Birmingham Rails, we found a list of all the railroads that continue to serve Alabama as well as the history of our railroads. There are even some interesting maps of the railroad lines.  It’s amazing what we have right here in Birmingham!  Even today, over 20 trains a day come right through Birmingham.  We can be extremely proud of our railroad heritage!

So here’s a preview of Bob’s watercolor tribute to the railroads and industry of Birmingham. I think he makes our railroads look beautiful!  And if you get interested in the railroads like we did, take a tour of the area.   There’s lots to see just within Jefferson County!

Finally, railroads are still a leisurely way to travel and if you have the time, we can personally recommend taking the AmTrak sleeper car from Morris Avenue to Washington D.C.’s Union Station.  You board at Morris Avenue in the afternoon, and arrive the next morning in the heart of Washington D.C. in the completely renovated Union Station.  It’s a great trip for kids AND adults!


Why do I love Birmingham? It’s complicated…

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

I was recently asked to document on video why I love Birmingham (and you can too, by clicking HERE).  The video testimonials will primarily be used to help attract new tech talent to our city which is becoming known for its tech entrepreneurs and innovation.  Scott Pierce,  the creator of the “Why Birmingham” video testimonials,  believes that Birmingham could actually be the next Silicon Valley!

Scott introduced this idea at Ignite Birmingham and his enthusiasm for its potential is contagious!  He got me thinking:   Is it the people, the climate, the award-winning restaurants, the beautiful rolling landscape, the emerging residential life downtown, or the new Railroad Park that provides our unique quality of life?  Is it the beautiful suburbs, the convenience, or the quality medical care and educational benefits provided by UAB?  While these are just a few of the reasons that immediately came to mind, I realized that my relationship with Birmingham is complicated and has evolved over the years.  Yes, all those things mentioned above are compelling,  but it hasn’t always been a love story for me and Birmingham!  And I realized the reason this city has kept me intrigued, interested, and involved  long enough to see the amazing changes occurring now, is analogous to one of my favorite stories, The Little Prince by St. Exupery.

To paraphrase, The Little Prince is asked by the wise old fox why he loves his grumpy old rose which is covered in thorns!  He points out that there are lots of beautiful roses in the world and many of them have a better attitude!  The Little Prince responds that it is special to him because it is HIS rose.  And he tells the fox that his rose needs him to protect it, and defend it, water and nurture it, and most of all to LOVE it above all others despite its thorns and its occasional attitude.

The wise old fox responds that The Little Prince has captured the secret–that you only love the things that you consistently nurture, defend, feed, and water – you only love the things you “tame” and that depend upon your consistent care.

So after 30 years, I guess this is why I love Birmingham!  It’s “tamed” me. Yes, I see its thorns…but I also see its amazing potential.  I always have!  And never more so than now, for all the reasons listed above!

For any detractors out there who can’t yet see what we have right here in Birmingham, my advice is to get involved (and here’s one way with a deadline of March 11th). Find something that you like about our city (if it’s art, some links to get started are HERE).  Write about  something that you want to see happen in Birmingham and nurture it (like this!).  I promise you, just like the rose, thorns and all, this city will take hold of you and never let go!  I believe in Birmingham…

“But my rose, all on her own, is more important than you altogether, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass. Since she’s the one I sheltered behind a screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except for two or three for butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

–from The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery