Empire Building

The Empire Building is of the most ornate buildings in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. Constructed in 1909, it is also one of the city’s oldest skyscrapers. After completion, the sixteen-story Classical Revival skyscraper became the tallest building in Alabama. A local paper called Birmingham View documented its construction monthly. Foundations were set by January, the first column of the top tier of structural steel was in place three months later. By May 1909, the exterior terra cotta block had been mortared and anchored. By June 1909, the building was almost finished. Teams of expert craftsmen, using limited machinery, hand-carried the construction materials needed to build the tower. The exterior of the building is covered in a molded terra-cotta with pink granite columns showcasing the First Avenue entrance. Four years later, the American Trust and Savings building across the street, took the “tallest building in Alabama” title. These two buildings along with the Brown-Marx Tower and the John Hand Building were proclaimed the “Heaviest Corner on Earth.” Today, it remains the most prominent corner in downtown Birmingham.

The Empire Building was sold in 1964. After a remodel, the building reopened with City National Bank occupying the ground floor the following year. Originally, a drug store occupied the ground floor, with offices and businesses on the upper floors.  In 1982, the Empire Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places. After sitting vacant for three years the Empire building was purchased by investors in 2012. A $27 million renovation revamped the 107-year-old building into a five-star boutique Marriot hotel. The Elyton Hotel opened in 2017 with 117 guest rooms, a restaurant, and a rooftop bar.

16808892819_fb25dff275_k

img_5086

16995086455_5bb9e592d1_k

16787715247_9721d3b9ed_k

16817460837_71dd50db80_k.jpg

21391064999_7b0b7547b1_k.jpg

21251110936_556fbe0526_k

21679938425_f077e0c65b_k.jpg

17024873385_53a7d6bf74_k.jpg

img_5085

Thanks for reading. For more photos of the Empire Building and other abandoned places around Birmingham check out my book, Abandoned Birmingham. Would you like to support Abandoned Southeast? Please consider making a donation or signing up for the mailing list on the main page. You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

15 Replies to “Empire Building”

  1. Gorgeous architecture. The craftsmanship in this building is amazing….they surely don’t make them like this anymore. Would love to see it after the renovation! By the way…love your site and your instagram! Keep it up!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. As skyscrapers go, this one’s a beauty, strange thin shape and the ornate top floors. The artistic details are striking. Though you do “abandoned” it’ll be interesting if you took pictures once it’s renovated 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Are the upper floors empty atm? Gorgeous building, I hope your work capturing this level of quality craftsmanship in Birmingham helps make sure we preserve, re-invigorate with life these beautiful buildings that can not be built again in America. The woman in the moon, Thank you for that shot!!!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: