What Lies Beneath

By Roger Shuler

beneathTim Sullivan is both manager of UAB's Campus Services and Grounds department and the holder of a history degree from the university. So he takes special delight in the artifacts his crews regularly discover when performing excavation work on campus.

"We find horseshoes, tools, wrenches, and cogs from machinery," Sullivan says. "It's fairly common to find old home foundations, particularly in the 15th Street area, where we are building the Campus Green. We recently found a wooden wagon axle in that area."

The land near Bartow Arena and the Ullman Building also yields interesting finds, Sullivan notes. "When 7th Avenue was closed off in front of Ullman, we dug up the asphalt and underneath that found big, thick bricks that formed cobblestone streets."

beneath2Behind the Hill University Center is a line of magnolia trees that receive special attention. In 1991, Jeannetta Martin Scott contacted the university with their history. "Her parents had a store on the corner of 14th Street and 7th Avenue, and the family lived above the store," Sullivan says. "They planted five trees, one for each of their children.

"I still hear from her, concerned about the care of those trees. Being an urban tree is difficult. They are between the curbstone and the sidewalk, which is not an ideal environment. But we do all we can for them."

Another UAB location provides ample evidence of Birmingham's mining heritage. At Woodward House, the president's residence, "you can see where railways carried ore off the property and went up the south side of Red Mountain to the crest," Sullivan says. "We don't do a lot of digging up there because it's heavily forested. But the grounds are bound to be chock full of artifacts."