United States of America -- Alabama -- Jefferson County -- Birmingham
Vestavia was the 20-acre country estate of George B. Ward (1867-1940) located on the crest of Shades Mountain about six miles from Birmingham, Alabama. Ward was the 13th Mayor of Birmingham from 1905 to 1909, as well as a successful businessman and financier. As the mayor, Ward worked to establish city parks for the citizens to enjoy during their leisure time. Using plans designed by the Olmstead Firm and adding athletic fields, Ward developed Green Springs Park, which was renamed George Ward Park following his death in 1940.
Wards home, built in 1925, was a replica of the Temple of Vesta inspired by his interest in the classics and travels to Greece and Rome. The home's location on Shades Mountain afforded an exceptional view overlooking the city of Birmingham and the surrounding countryside. The grounds were beautifully landscaped and carried the carried the Greco-Roman theme with doghouses shaped like miniature Roman temples, models of ancient ships floating in the pond, and a gazebo-type Temple of Sibyl, which was copied from a structure twelve miles from Rome in Tivoli. Ward opened the house and gardens to the public for tours on special occasions. He was also known to host elaborate themed parties complete with servants costumed as Roman Soldiers, young ladies dancing as the barefooted Vestal Virgins, and the guests dressed in togas.
A residential community grew around the estate and is now a large suburban municipality known as Vestavia Hills. The image of home became so iconic to the people of the city that its image was used in the design for the city's logo. Following Ward's death in 1940, the home was sold. After nearly a decade of neglect the home was converted to a restaurant and tourist attraction for a brief time before being sold to the Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. The once pagan temple was used to hold church services until 1971, when it was razed and replaced with a new sanctuary. The Sybil Temple gazebo was donated to the Vestavia Hills Garden Club, who had it installed above US Highway 31.
Persons associated include: George B. Ward (former owner, 1923-1940), William Leslie Welton (architect, 1923-1925), Vestavia Hills Baptist Church (former owner).
Vestavia, Country home of Mr. Geo. B. Ward, Crest of Shades Mt., BBirmingham, Ala.--63
Postcard circa 1930-1945.
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Lorenzo Dow Turner took this image in Raccoon Bluff, Sapelo Island, McIntosh County, Georgia while doing research in the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia between 1931 and 1933.
Mary Bell was born on May 22, 1887, at Raccoon Bluff, Sapelo Island, to William Bell and Chloe Handy. Her family was part of the group that moved to the Raccoon Bluff settlement in Sapelo Island when it was developed by three African American men in 1871. She married her first husband, William Green, on March 4, 1905, when she was 18 years old. She had five children from this first marriage: Alfonzo and Nellie, born 1907; Clara, born 1908; Thomas, born 1912 and Lula, born 1915. Her husband William worked as a longshoreman in Savannah, Georgia, and passed away there on February 23, 1922.
Around 1924-25 she married Eddie [Edward] Hall. Her daughter Mary L. Hall was born on November 17, 1925. Mary passed away on September 3, 1958. She was buried at Behavior Cemetery in Sapelo Island.
Mary E. Hall spent her life taking care of the family and working on the family farm. She passed away on February 7, 1959, at 71 years of age. She was also buried at Behavior Cemetery in Sapelo Island. Eddie Hall would survive his wife for almost ten years, dying on January 29, 1968, in Savannah, Georgia.
When Curator Alcione Amos was at Sapelo Island in 2011 researching to identify photographs taken in the Island by Dr. Turner in 1933, she was surprised when she saw how Mrs. Hall was dressed. She was by far the best-dressed person in the photographs Ms. Amos had seen. Mrs. Cornelia Bailey, who knew Mrs. Hall, as a child, explained that her daughters had migrated to New York and would send her packages of clothes, shoes, and other gifts. Mrs. Bailey remembered that the arrival of these packages was a time of great excitement for the children.
Mary E. Hall [aka Mary Bell and Mary Green].
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