A postcard image of Terminal Station.
Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives A postcard image of Terminal Station.


Terminal Station, demolished in 1969, is an often mourned and sorely missed architectural relic for residents of Birmingham, Ala., who recall tales of the terminal’s heydey. Designed by Atlanta architect P. Thornton Marye, the Beaux-Arts brick structure was constructed in 1909 and cost nearly $3 million at the time—which currently translates to approximately $78 million. A former, buzzing hub of Southern rail travel, the station was torn down following the decline of train travel.

A month-long exhibition highlighting Terminal Station’s historical significance, Great Temple of Travel: The Design and Legacy of Birmingham’s Terminal Station, will run from March 10 to April 10 at the Alabama Center for Architecture as part of AIA Birmingham’s 50th anniversary celebration. Through historical drawings, photographs and postcards, guests will be offered a window into the station’s architectural and local history.

“Once old buildings are gone, they’re gone forever and cannot be rebuilt,” said Carey Hollingsworth, AIA Birmingham president. “We wanted to show that something good came from losing the Terminal. Many old structures have been saved since then because we did not want to see the Terminal tragedy repeated.”

The exhibition will aso preview plans for Rotary Trail, a new linear park following a depressed rail bed along First Avenue South from 20th Street to 24th Street. By the 1950s, Terminal Station’s iconic “Magic City” sign had deteriorated, grown hazardous, and was removed. The new trail will include a replica of the original sign at its entrance, paying homage to the city’s past while looking toward the future.

The exhibition will open with a cocktail reception on Tuesday, March 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. For more information, and to RSVP for the reception, please follow the link.

Terminal Station main building by P. Thornton Marye, 1905
Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives Terminal Station main building by P. Thornton Marye, 1905

Terminal Station floorplan of main building by Thornton Marye, 1905
Terminal Station floorplan of main building by Thornton Marye, 1905

Terminal Station under construction, 1906.
Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives Terminal Station under construction, 1906.

An aerial view of the Terminal Station in 1958, photographed by A. C. Keily.
Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives An aerial view of the Terminal Station in 1958, photographed by A. C. Keily.


In segregated Birmingham, the train station had two waiting rooms, one for white travelers and one for African-American travelers. The Main Lobby and “white” waiting room featured a dome with detailed tilework and ornamental glass. Photographed by Bill Ricker in 1969.
Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives In segregated Birmingham, the train station had two waiting rooms, one for white travelers and one for African-American travelers. The Main Lobby and “white” waiting room featured a dome with detailed tilework and ornamental glass. Photographed by Bill Ricker in 1969.

Terminal Station in the 1930s, photographed by O. V. Hunt.
Courtesy Birmingham Public Library Archives Terminal Station in the 1930s, photographed by O. V. Hunt.


A watercolor rendering of the proposed 20th Street entrance to the Rotary Trail.
Courtesy Goodwyn A watercolor rendering of the proposed 20th Street entrance to the Rotary Trail.