Want a history lesson? Here are 5 more of Birmingham’s oldest establishments

rickwood field
Rickwood Field is the oldest baseball park in the US. Photo via Bham Now

We’re back with another roundup of five more of Birmingham’s oldest businesses, from a mattress store to an engineering firm. Keep reading to learn about the history of each business and how they have changed (and changed the Magic City) over the years.

1. Walter Schoel Engineering

schoel engineering
The current home of Schoel Engineering. Photo via Claire Hancock for Bham Now

The oldest engineering firm in Birmingham is Schoel Engineering. Founded in 1888, the company provides a bevy of engineering services to the Birmingham area. From the beginning, Schoel Engineering has been family-owned, starting with Herman Schoel and continuing to the current Walter Schoel III. In 2007, the firm was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame.

See some of the projects they recently supported:

  • Shops at Grand River
  • Children’s of Alabama
  • UAB North Pavilion

Find them:

2. Rickwood Field

rickwood field
The historic Rickwood Field. Photo via Bham Now

Rickwood Field isn’t just Birmingham’s oldest baseball field, it’s the oldest surviving baseball field in America. Barons owner Rick Woodward built the stadium for the Birmingham Barons in 1910, and served as home base for the Barons and Black Barons until 1987. On its first opening day, August 18, 1910, Rickwood Field welcomed 10,000 visitors to watch the Birmingham Barons defeat the Montgomery Climbers. All of Birmingham closed for business that day to celebrate the first game.

The field is currently undergoing renovations, with plans to erect a museum to the Negro and Southern Leagues Hall of Fame next door to the park.

3. Alabama Power Company

Alabama Power Electra
Electra atop the Alabama Power Building – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Alabama’s oldest utility company, and thus Birmingham’s oldest, Alabama Power has been lighting up Birmingham since 1925. Founded in 1906 in Gadsden, they moved their official headquarters to the current building in downtown Birmingham in 1925. In case you didn’t know, Alabama Power hired their first woman engineer, Maria Whitson, in 1923.

4. City Paper Company

city paper company
City Paper Company is now located off Montclair Road. Photo via Claire Hancock for Bham Now

City Paper Co. is Birmingham’s oldest source for retail packaging, promotional material and printed products. The business, run by the Friedman family, was founded in Birmingham on July 23, 1897. City Paper really started to make waves in Birmingham after World War II, when commercial expansion was booming. It has worked with a wide variety of businesses and stores in the our area, including Bromberg’s and Cracker Barrel.

5. Ensley Fairfield Mattress Company

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Ensley Fairchild Mattress Company in 1930. Photo via Ensley Fairchild Mattress Company

In 1915, Louis and Dixie Hotzclaw opened a mattress factory on Avenue E in the Ensley/Fairfield area and aptly named the new company Ensley Fairfield Mattress. The building had dirt floors, and they used a Model T to make deliveries all around Birmingham. Now, three generations have owned and operated one of Birmingham’s oldest stores.

At Ensley Fairfield Mattress’s current homes in Pelham and Homewood, you can see some of the relics of mattress making of old, like a Toledo scale used to weigh cotton and the Model T.

Who should we include in our next roundup of Birmingham’s oldest stores? Send me a message at claire@bhamnow.com and let us know!

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Claire Hancock
Claire Hancock
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