Mystery surrounding old Southside Birmingham building solved

Read Time 3 Minutes

Mystery letters, D. VK. D. Via- Cameron Balentine.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the mystery surrounding the cryptic letters, D. V K. D painted on the blacked-out windows of an old, purple building on Birmingham’s south side.

Maybe you’ve seen those mysterious letters at 12th Street and 1st Avenue South and wondered what they could mean. We asked our readers what those letters might stand for…I think I know!

Via-Google Earth.
Mystery solved?

Have you ever had a puzzle on your mind, like a tooth ache, you couldn’t quite get rid of…sometimes waking in the middle of the night with the answer, then forgetting it upon waking?

Those letters were kind of like that for me. After making some guesses, doing some digging and a little research, I’m certain I know what those cryptic letters :  D. VK. D. refer to!

Denham, Van Keuren & Denham 

It seems Denham, Van Keuren & Denham, was an architecture firm active in Birmingham in the 1920s. The firm was founded in 1924, with William Leslie Denham , E. B. Van Keuren and a Denham relative as partners.

Rickwood Field. Via-
Highland Plaza Apartments post card image.

They designed the Mountain Brook Elementary School, the Highland Plaza Apartments and the steel-framed roof to cover the infield bleachers of Rickwood Field, before ending their partnership in 1928.

Mystery letters
Mountain Brook Elementary School. Via-

E. B. Van Keuren went on to a solo architecture career designing the Slossfield Community Center. The art-deco styled poured concrete structures were built during the Great Depression, from 1935-1939, financed by the American Cast Iron Pipe Company, FDR’s Works Progress Administration and black workers who had pulled their earnings together.

Sloissfield Comunity Center 1939. Via-

The Slossfield Community Center campus consisted of a health clinic, maternity ward, a recreational center and an education building. It was officially shut down in 1954, then finally put on the National Historic Register in 2008.

Slossfield Community Center today. Via-
The “D” of D. V K. D.

William Denham, continued to design buildings with his Birmingham architecture firm Denham & Denham. Interestingly, according to BhamWiki:

Denham was awarded a patent, No. 1,366,067, in 1921 for his design for an “aeroplane” with two horizontally-mounted propellers, giving the appearance of a helicopter.- BhamWiki.

Denham design of his ‘aeroplane.’ Via- BhamWiki.
But why?

What does all this old information have to do with the purple building on 12th Street and 1st Avenue South?  Well THAT is still a mystery!

Atlanta real-estate developers, Third & Urban haven’t shared detailed plans for the old 1927 building yet. The renderings, and developments they feature on their website however, promise something really cool for this old Birmingham building.

The Denham Building. Via- Third & Urban.

The Denham Building is the western anchor of Birmingham’s explosive urban growth in the vibrant Parkside District. Positioned alongside Good People Brewery, Regions Field, and beautiful Railroad Park, the Denham Building blends office, retail, and upscale residential space with exceptional amenities to cultivate the perfect offering for businesses and young professionals eager to capture the energy of the revitalized west side of downtown Birmingham. Third & Urban.

The Denham Building. Via- Cameron Balentine.

The Third & Urban website says the Denham Building will be transformed into an exciting blend of retail, office space and unique upscale residential spaces.

Plan for The Denham. Via-

For now we wait...But surely I’m right; for some reason, Denham, Van Keuren & Denham have something to do with the future plans.

Solved ? Via- Cameron Balentine
Let Bham Now know what your theories are! We’ll share more information as we continue to investigate!