62 year old Alabama Theatre sign to be removed for repairs and complete restoration on February 1

Birmingham, Alabama, Newcomers' guide to Birmingham, Alabama Theatre, Sidewalk Film Festival
Birmingham, Alabama, Newcomers' guide to Birmingham, Alabama Theatre, Sidewalk Film Festival
The historic Alabama Theatre is one of many Sidewalk Film Festival venues. Photo by Bham Now

One of Birmingham’s most beloved and iconic landmarks, the Alabama Theatre sign, will be taken down on February 1, for repairs and complete restoration.

The 1800 block of Third Avenue North will be closed to all traffic starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1. The street is scheduled to reopen on Monday, Feb. 4, pending the safe removal of the sign and all attendant equipment.

“This refurbishment brings us closer to completing a three-phase plan for the total restoration of the Alabama Theatre exterior,” says executive director Brant Beene. “Phase one was the replacement of the 18th Street vertical sign. Phase two will be the refurbishment of the Third Avenue sign. Phase three will be the replacement of the marquee, returning the ornate design of 1927 and improving on the original with use of LED bulbs and other 21st century technology.”

Birmingham Alabama
Alabama Theatre sign on 18th before 1957 – photo by Bham Now

According to Birmingham Landmarks, in 1927, the Alabama Theatre had two vertical signs — one on Third Avenue and one on 18th Street. Both were removed in the mid-1950s, and the original 18th Street sign was scrapped. A new 18th Street sign was erected in 2017, after generous donations from the corporate community and a Partners in Preservation grant from the National Trust.

Here is a Bham Now video of the 2018 New Year’s Eve lighting of the 18th Street Alabama Sign.  The lighting countdown begins at the 4:00 mark.

The Third Avenue sign was replaced in 1957, with new “instant-type neon” replacing screw-in lightbulbs. After 62 years in service, the refurbished Third Avenue sign will feature LED lighting on letters fabricated by Fravert.

The Third Avenue sign refurbishment follows two meaningful milestones — the grand reopening of the Lyric Theatre and 90th birthday of the Alabama Theatre. Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. recently launched an endowment campaign to sustain both theatres for the next century.

“This sign removal is temporary, but we know the repair will last for decades,” Beene says. “This is a perfect example of why we launched the endowment campaign; it demonstrates the urgent need for patrons who love these theatres to fund it.”

The Birmingham Landmarks Endowment fund has a goal of $5 million. All gifts are tax-deductible and will be deposited in an endowment account at Regions Bank.

Birmingham Alabama
Alabama Theatre’s iconic 3rd Ave. North sign

To make a cash gift or include Birmingham Landmarks in your estate planning, go to:

www.alabamatheatre.com and click on “Support us.”

For more information about the Alabama or the Lyric, please call 205-ALA-BAMA (205-252-2262).

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.