3 beautiful venues where you can host the perfect gathering in the future (PHOTOS)


The Florentine ballroom
The Florentine’s ballroom, restored to its former glory. Photo via Williams Blackstock Architects

Even though a lot of holiday gatherings won’t be happening this year, who’s dreaming about events in a post-COVID world? Whether it’s an office party, a family get-together or a wedding for a distant future you’re planning, we’ve got three venues designed by Williams Blackstock Architects that you need to check out today.

1. Cahaba Brewing

Did you know Cahaba Brewing is in an old factory that made cotton gins? The same location was home to a wartime ammo maker, a denim jean factory and at one point stored old fire engines. Now, they make beer.

If you look closely, you may spot some of the old spray painted numbers on the wall that they used to sort the jeans back in the day. You’ll also find reclaimed wood and American-made fixtures throughout, according to Lauren Gwaltney of Williams Blackstock Architects.

One of the coolest features of the space is the carefully and beautifully-designed brewhouse centered behind giant tempered glass windows. Another amazing feature of the space is the huge outdoor porch which makes outdoor socializing in pandemic times super-easy.

But don’t take our word for it. Here are a few of the design awards Williams Blackstock Architects have won for their work on Cahaba Brewing:

  • Merit Award: AIA, Gulf States
  • Merit Award, Commercial: AIA, Birmingham
  • Merit Award: AIA, Alabama

If you’re looking for a casual environment with plenty of space to spread out, both inside and out, Cahaba is the place you want to be.

Location: 4500 5th Avenue South, Building C, Birmingham, AL 35222
Contact: Website | (205) 578-2616

2. Dread River

So many gorgeous spaces at Dread River

From the first time we heard of Dread River at Bham Now, we were all so excited about the arrival of “the largest distillery in the history of Alabama.” The name, Dread River, evokes the mystery surrounding tales of a river running underneath Birmingham.

That sense of mystery carries through every detail of Dread River’s design. John Beason had a hand in the interior design, and said the deep saturated color palette was intentional. As you walk into Dread River, you can’t help but feel embraced by the rich purples, burgundies, blues and blacks with gold and brass accents for sparkle.

“We created the opportunity for people to have a favorite room when they go to Dread River, something they could think of as their very own.”

John Beason

Two must-see features at Dread River: the incredible chandelier that hangs over the bar and moves in the breeze, and the bathrooms. Trust us on that one.

Williams Blackstock Architects won an Honor Award from AIA, Birmingham for their work on this venue.

Food + drink you’ll remember for days

In addition to the surprisingly upscale feel that will make you forget you’re in an old warehouse that used to house an antique shop, Dread River does not disappoint on the food and drink side of things. I still remember how tasty last year’s holiday meal was. And the drinks. Oh my.

Bham Now + Williams Blackstock had holiday parties at Dread River last year

If you’re looking for a sumptuous setting with delicious food and a fabulous bar featuring incredible cocktails, book your next gathering at Dread River today.

Location: 2400 7th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233
Contact: Website | 205-588-1744 | info@dreadriver.com

3. The Florentine


Back in 1926, when The Florentine was built, it was quite a sight to behold, with its grand ballroom on the second floor. Believe it or not, it was originally designed to be ten stories taller than it actually ended up being, according to Joel Blackstock.

Sadly, the building had fallen into disrepair over the past 30 years, as you can see in the photos above. For a while it served as a club that had painted the windows black for privacy. Water damage and age had not been kind to the Italianate building.

When the Corretti family of Corretti Catering decided to renovate the building, their goal was to restore it to its original grandeur. For their work on The Florentine, Williams Blackstock was awarded an Honorable Mention from AIA, Alabama.

We can’t imagine a more gorgeous in-town venue.


The Florentine is just as stunning on the outside as it is on the inside.

If you’re looking for a gorgeous large venue with plenty of space for celebration, you need to check out The Florentine, with full-service catering by Coretti Catering.

Location: 2101 2nd Avenue North, Birmingham, AL 35203
Contact: Website | (205) 503-4470 | events@florentinebuilding.com

Curious to know more about how Williams Blackstock has been changing the face of Birmingham since the ’90s? Visit their website today.

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Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

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

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