9 things to know and love about Birmingham’s Cahaba Community, including Lake Purdy


Barber Motorsports Vintage Museum is in the Cahaba community of Birmingham.
Pictures can’t even begin to do justice to the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Chances are, you didn’t know Birmingham’s Cahaba Community was a thing. It’s made up of one neighborhood: an old coal-mining area called Overton. Once you finish reading, you’re going to want to visit because there’s a lot going on.

This is the sixth in a 23-part series on Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods. To date, we’ve featured these communities:

1. Where is the Cahaba community?

The Cahaba community has borders that look like they were drawn with an Etch-a-Sketch
The borders of the Cahaba Community look like they were drawn with an Etch-a-Sketch. Map from the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham

Here’s my best shot at telling you where it is: most of it is South of I-20 (near Leeds), East of 459 (near Mountain Brook), and Northeast of 280. Next, take out the following:

  • Liberty Park
  • Church of the Highlands
  • Pine Tree Country Club
  • Parts of Overton Road, 119 and Brook Highland

The Cahaba community / Overton neighborhood is what’s left. Clear as mud, right?

Parts of the Cahaba River are in the Cahaba community.
This swimming hole on the Cahaba may or may not technically be within the bounds of the Overton neighborhood. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Let’s look at what is in Birmingham’s Overton neighborhood. This is actually the only neighborhood in the Cahaba community. Not to be confused with Cahaba Heights.

Stewart Perry's campus is in the Cahaba community of Birmingham
Part of Stewart Perry’s campus, facing Overton Road. They also have fabulous gardens and a big red barn. Photo from Facebook

From east to west (roughly):

  • The Barber Motorsports Park
  • The Southern Museum of Flight‘s future home
  • The Grand River Technology Park (parts of it will be in Birmingham, parts in Leeds)
  • All of Lake Purdy, the source of much of Birmingham’s drinking water
  • Stewart Perry’s beautiful campus
  • The Historic Bethel A.M.E. Church
  • Some swimming holes on the Cahaba River
  • The Summit
  • Pappadeaux
  • Target on 280. Yep, not kidding.

Bet you didn’t even know most of that was in Birmingham, did you?

Adamson Ford is one of the sponsors of this piece on the Cahaba community of Birmingham, along with Brik Realty.
If you want to check out the Overton neighborhood for yourself, why not go in style in your own Ford Truck from Adamson Ford? March is Ford Truck month, and you could save up to $7140 on a 2018 Ford Flex.

2. The Overton neighborhood of the Cahaba community: a little history

The Overton No. 2 mine was once an important part of the Cahaba community of Birmingham.
Mine portal at Overton No. 2 mine. Photo by Jeff E. Newman

According to Diamonds in the Rough: A History of Alabama’s Cahaba Coal Field, “Operations began in 1908, and Henry DeBardeleben named the coal town for Jesse M. Overton, the Nashville capitalist who financed the venture.” At one point there was quite a thriving community on both sides of Overton Road.

On December 11, 1925, the Overton mine No. 2 made the front page of the New York Times. On that date, an explosion killed somewhere between 53 and 61 miners. They never did find out what caused the blast.

The now-abandoned Bethel A.M.E. Church was once an important part of the African American part of the mining town of Overton.
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, circa 1907. This church part of the African American side of the mining community of Overton. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

The Overton mines and many others lie underneath this community. Much of the land has been reclaimed and put to new uses. Liberty Park, to the North, sits on top of an abandoned mine, as will the new location of the Southern Museum of Flight.

3. Why do people live in the Cahaba community?

Lake Purdy is within the Cahaba community of Birmingham.
Lake Purdy is one of my all-time favorite spots in Birmingham. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

First, some people enjoy being near the water—the Cahaba River or Lake Purdy. Second, some people enjoy the convenience of being near the shops at The Summit or on 280. Third, longtime locals remember when 280 was a country road. Finally, some like the country feel parts of the neighborhood provide.

4. Where do locals in the Cahaba community go to eat?

Miss Myra's BBQ is next door to the Cahaba community of Birmingham, in Cahaba Heights.
Miss Myra’s, in neighboring Cahaba Heights, has some tasty local barbecue. Don’t believe us? Ask the Wall Street Journal or Andrew Zimmern. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Restaurants on 280 and at The Summit are national chains. If you want to eat local, head to Cahaba Heights—right next door. There you can stop in to Miss Myra’s Barbecue. The white sauce alone is worth the trip. That and the pigs.

Miss Myra's BBQ is next to the Cahaba community of Birmingham, in Cahaba Heights.
Pigs are a thing at Miss Myra’s. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

5. Want to check out a house near the Cahaba community?

3524 Lakeside Drive
3514 Lakeside Drive, Vestavia, AL 35243. Photo from Brik Realty

This yellow house with a lakehouse feel is literally a stone’s throw from the Cahaba community. It’s in Vestavia, right next to Blue Lake. If you’re driving from 280 toward Cahaba Heights on Blue Lake Road, it’s on the right-hand side across from the lake.

6. What is one thing everyone who visits the Cahaba community has to see?

I couldn’t pick just one:

  • Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, hands down. This place was named “Best Alabama Attraction” by USA Today readers, and all you have to do is step inside to see why. Put this one on your must-see list now.
  • Lake Purdy is, to me, one of the most beautiful places in the entire Birmingham area. Rent a boat and spend a few hours on the lake and you’ll see what I’m talking about. For a simple boat, it’s $18 per day, $22 per night. Want something fancier? It’ll cost you a bit more. Find all the details here. Look for wild turkey and great blue herons. Note: you can’t bring your own boat to Lake Purdy.

7. Any events coming up in Cahaba / Overton?

8. What’s the best Instagram spot in Cahaba?

The Summit is in the Cahaba community of Birmingham.
You’ll find this mural by Abby Little down near Saks at The Summit. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

9. Open jobs?

Have you considered a career in real estate? Flexible hours and unlimited income potential! Check out what Brik Realty’s looking for—maybe it’s you.

Ready to take a trip out to the Cahaba community? There really is something for everyone. Love eating and shopping—check out The Summit. Adore the outdoors—the Cahaba and Lake Purdy are waiting. Finally, if fast cars and motorcycles are your thing—Barber Motorsports has more than you could possibly imagine.

Sponsored by:

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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