Chemical City School

Chemical City School is a former Birmingham City School that was founded in 1901. The school moved to a new building in 1908 and joined the Birmingham City School System several years later.

Chemical City School
This Geography classroom was still full of desks, even a globe.


The small school library is packed with books and other miscellaneous items.
Chemical City School
Microscopes and projectors were left behind in one of the Biology classrooms.


For the first ten years the graduating classes were small. Most consisted of less than a dozen students. In the 1920s, a major addition was added to the school increasing the capacity to over 2,000 students. Enrollment quickly ballooned as the neighborhoods grew.

Chemical City School
A closet in the Chemistry department was filled with dozens of dry chemicals including several bottles of Ammonium Nitrate.
Chemical City School
The dry chemicals were thought to have been removed 10 years ago when Chemical City School closed.

Chemical City School


Chemical City School
A large glass bottle of Sulfuric Acid was also found inside the Chemical City School.



In 1936, over a 100 students contracted food poisoning; which was traced back to cream puffs from a local bakery. The county health department, which had been unable to maintain their inspections during the Great Depression,  inspected the bakery and discovered conditions to be filthy.

Chemical City SchoolChemical City SchoolChemical City School

Chemical City School
Layers of dust cover the seats in the school’s auditorium.

Chemical City School


Previously an all-white school, Chemical City was integrated in 1964 without incident. However racial segregation in the Birmingham area was still prevalent, especially after the loss of the nearby steel industry. By the 1970s, the student body was predominantly African-American.

Chemical City SchoolChemical City SchoolThe school’s three-story, 185,000 square foot building was designed by a local architect. The campus occupies 8 acres, including the athletic fields and parking lots. A separate gym and weight room adds another 20,000 square feet. Chemical City School closed after the 2005-2006 school year.

Chemical City School

Chemical City School

After closing the school was used by the Birmingham Board of Education as a storage warehouse and garage space for the system’s transportation fleet.

Chemical City School



3 thoughts on “Chemical City School

  1. Hi there,
    First of all, your photography is amazing. Do you know of any website or photographer who captures similar types of images within the state of Texas? I’m always looking for these hidden or forgotten places and the story behind them.

    thanks, John


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