A History of the Public Schools in Birmingham, Alabama

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Birmingham was incorporated December 19, 1871. Two years later, 1873, the baby city was laid low by a financial depression and an epidemic or cholera which brought poverty, death, and despair to the inhabitants. In the midst of this adversity, plans were begun for establishing Birmingham’s first public school.

In October of that tragic year, a group of laboring men appealed to Col. J. T. Terry, then a prominent citizen of Birmingham, to help them in providing a school for their children. The problems surrounding the situation were too many and too complex for the average man. The town had neither money nor credit. In spite of this Col. Terry gave his promise to help them and boldly went to work. A site for the school had to be obtained, "through his solicitation, the lot 100x 90 feet (southwest) corner of sixth avenue and twenty-fourth street was donated for that purpose by the Elyton Land Company through its president, Col. James R. Powell.” One of the chief objections raised at this time was that it was "out in the country.”