Chemical City School

Chemical High 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 of the classes consisted of less than a dozen students. In the 1920s, a major addition was added to the school which  increased the capacity to over 2,000 students. Enrollment quickly ballooned as the nearby 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.

34729199090_5b301116e8_kIn 1936, over a 100 students contracted food poisoning; which was traced back to cream puffs from a local bakery. The Jefferson 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 SchoolPreviously an all-white school, Chemical High School was integrated in 1964 without incident. However, racial segregation in the Birmingham area was still prevalent, especially after the collapse 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 High School closed after the 2005-2006 school year due to declining enrollment.

Chemical School

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

Chemical SchoolChemical School



8 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


    1. Another disgusting example of tax payers’ money squandered yet again not to mention letting a historical beautiful building fall to ruins. Shame on the the Alabama Governor and Alabama State Educators.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It has nothing to do with the Alabama Governor. It’s the ignorance of the feckless Birmingham, AL Board of Education. They have plunged the school system into complete disarray. It is so bad that the State of Alabama is stepping in to correct this mess.


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