F.D. McArthur Elementary was a former Birmingham city school located in the Druid Hills neighborhood. Originally called 17th Avenue School, the building was constructed in 1910. The school mascot was the Hornets, and school colors were green and white. The school was later renamed after local attorney and Birmingham Board of Education president F.D. McArthur.
An eight-room addition was added in 1941 after a neighboring school was destroyed by fire. F.D. McArthur Elementary was closed in May 1997 due to budget cuts and dwindling enrollment. The City of Birmingham tried to sell it in 2003 to a church but the deal fell through.
In 2008, former Mayor Larry Langford announced a South Korean-owned firm, which was interested in the adjacent medical center, would also purchase the school. They would also invest $3 million to renovate it into a nursing school for Korean students who wanted to work in the United States. The project was never realized. Today, like many closed Birmingham city schools, F.D. McArthur Elementary continues to rot away. The property is currently for sale by the city.
Founded in 1871 after the Civil War, Birmingham rapidly grew as an industrial enterprise due to the abundance of the three raw materials used in making steel–iron ore, coal, and limestone. Birmingham’s rapid growth was due to the booming iron and steel industries giving it the nickname “Magic City” and “Pittsburgh of the South.” The city was named after Birmingham, England, as a nod to the major industrial powerhouse. The iron and steel industries began to dry up by the early 1970s, leaving behind dozens of abandoned structures that now dot the city’s landscape. In the last several years, Birmingham has begun to experience a rebirth. Money has been invested in reconstructing the historic downtown area into a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use district. In Abandoned Birmingham, photographer Leland Kent gives the reader an in-depth look at the forgotten buildings and factories throughout the city. $24.99 retail price. Signed and includes shipping.