Alabama Theatre concept

This rendering shows what the Birmingham Landmarks Inc. will do with the Alabama Theatre after winning the National Geographic VoteYourMainStreet.org competition.
Photos contributed by Birmingham Landmarks Inc.

Bella Tylicki
Community Reporter

The Alabama Theatre will once again shine down on 18th Street with the restoration of its vertical marquee. With $120,000 from American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Main Street America, Alabama Theatre will regain its 1957 glory.

The Alabama Theatre is one of 11 historic sites to receive a chunk of the $1.5 million after winning the popular vote in the Partners in Preservation: Main Streets campaign.

“These grants will enable main streets to preserve the historic features that make these districts so special,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “When we support our local historic sites and main streets . . . we drive development, preserve character, attract visitors and propel commerce.”

Brant Beene, president of Birmingham Landmarks, the nonprofit owner of the Alabama and Lyric Theatres said they received over 54,000 votes from Facebook friends, customers, employees of the major contributors and customers.

“We have found that Alabama Theatre customers are a dedicated bunch,” Beene said. “They love this theatre, have many great memories here and want to keep the Alabama [Theatre] preserved and operating so their children and grandchildren can enjoy it the way they did. That’s what we want, too.”

Sign fabrication has begun, and plans call for the new 18th Street sign to be unveiled and lit on the stroke of midnight this new year’s eve in celebration of the theater’s 90th birthday year, according to REV Birmingham, the local economic development agency that nominated the theater.

“The volume of local votes and, of course, local donations show strong support for historic preservation in our beautiful city with no shortage of historic charm in need of preserving,” said David Fleming, CEO of REV Birmingham. “The Alabama Theatre has been a pillar of the city center throughout its seasons of change, and we look forward to seeing its exterior restoration projects return the theater to its fully original splendor.”

The grant will supplement funds pledged by Birmingham’s corporate donors such as Altec, Bradley Arant, Gray Construction, Cindy & Ken Rhoden, ServisFirst Bank, Southpace, Wells Fargo and Wiggins Child Pantazis.

Bella Tylicki can be reached at btylicki@uab.edu and on Twitter @_belty_.

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