20-year-old Time Capsule opened at Concord Center in downtown Birmingham

Concord Center
Members of the original team behind the Concord Center reminisce over items they placed in a time capsule 20 years prior. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

On Thursday, June 9th, the original developers, contractor and architects of the Concord Center in Downtown Birmingham opened a time capsule sealed into the foundation of the building 20 years ago. Inside, they found newspapers about historic events, mementos from the past and even ancient technology.

Read on to learn more about the history of the Concord Center and the items inside the time capsule.

About the Concord Center

Concord Center
The Concord Center in Downtown Birmingham. (Williams Blackstock Architects)

Designed by Williams Blackstock Architects and built by Bill Harbert International, the Concord Center is an 11-story office building located on 3rd Avenue North next to the Downtown YMCA. Completed in 2002, the building was the first office tower completed in Downtown Birmingham in 13 years, and brought 150,000 square-feet of new office space to Birmingham’s central business district.

“The Concord Center was made possible due to work between the City of Birmingham, the YMCA, the Birmingham Parking Authority and our team. We wanted to create a building that was street-friendly to pedestrians, featured artwork in the lobby and was overall a timeless design and worked with the existing architecture of our surrounding neighbors.”

Charles Simpson, Senior Vice President, Graham & Company

According to Williams Blackstock Architects, the Concord Center’s lobby features Portuguese and Angola granite, White Thassos marble from Greece, polished stainless steel, rich cherry wood paneling and custom-designed light fixtures.

Concord Center
A photo of the 1889 Jefferson County Courthouse, which stood on the same block as the Concord Center from 1889 to 1937.(Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

The Concord Center is located on the same site that was once home to the Jefferson County Courthouse, a large building erected in 1889. After the Courthouse was demolished in 1937 (following the construction of the current Jefferson County Courthouse building), the empty lot was used as a parking lot for over 60 years.

When designing the Concord Center, Williams Blackstock Architect chose to pay homage to the 1889 Courthouse’s profile by capping the Concord Center with twin pyramid-shaped glass spires.

“The design of the building is sympathetic to the structures that were here before. We chose to give a nod to the historic Courthouse but with a modern, contemporary twist. The Concord Center has two towers with sleek glass pyramidal caps that light up at night to provide a dramatic image on the skyline. The other important thing about the design is it really embraces the street. A lot of the buildings down here that had been built in the 70s walled themselves off from the street. However, this building is full of glass and you can see into the lobby. We stepped the facade back so pedestrians can walk under the colonnade, creating a nice pedestrian plaza on the street.”

Joel Blackstock, Architect and Founding Principal, Williams Blackstock Architects

Opening a Time Capsule from 2002

Concord Center
Charles Simpson begins removing the plate protecting the Concord Center time capsule. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

During the dedication of the Concord Center in 2002, the developers, contractor and architects sealed a time capsule inside the building, to be opened 20 years later.

“Concord Center stands on the site of Birmingham’s first County Courthouse, constructed in 1875. The growth of a bustling town demanded the construction of a new Jefferson County Courthouse by 1888. Built on the same site, this second courthouse was
Birmingham’s first high-rise building, and the largest and most architecturally distinctive building constructed in the city for many years. The courthouse was designed in the Richardsonian – Romanesque style, featuring two square towers capped with pyramidal roofs that framed a central clock tower, as pictured in the historical photograph. The courthouse was razed in 1937 to encourage redevelopment, and the site remained a parking lot until the groundbreaking of Concord Center in June 2000. The distinctive
architectural design of Concord Center, reminiscent of the historic courthouse, restores this historical site a major landmark in the City. Concord Center was made possible through the concordance of the City of Birmingham, the YMCA, the building owners, and the developer.”

Concord Center Time Capsule

On June 9th, the same developers, contractor and architects met to unveil the time capsule, along with representatives from Cushman & Wakefield / EGS, the leasing and management agent for Concord Center and also a tenant of the building. Remarks were given by several people including: 

  • William Ledbetter of Cushman & Wakefield / EGS
  • Charles Simpson of Graham & Company
  • David Walker of Graham & Company
  • Joel Blackstock of Williams Blackstock Architects
Concord Center
Some of the items found inside the Concord Center time capsule. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

After the opening reception, it was time to peak inside the time capsule. In addition to original documents and personal mementos from the original Concord Center team, the time capsule contained:

  • A Special Report from The Birmingham News about the September 11 Attacks, as well as a copy of LIFE Magazine and Newsweek
  • A special greeting to the Concord Center from The Cathedral of Saint Paul
  • An invitation to “An Authentic Cinco de Mayo Party” in 2002
  • A part of the fastest computer at the time, a Dell Pentium 4 running Windows XP
Concord Center
Members of the original Concord Center team. L to R: Joel Blackstock, Billy Harbert, David Walker, Charles Simpson, Jim Rein. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

The project team behind the Concord Center included:

  • Owners — BLII Group, LLC; Brookmont Investors II, LLC; Spire Holdings, LLC
  • Developer — Brookmont Realty Group, LLC
  • General Contractor — B.L. Harbert International, LLC
  • Architect — Williams Blackstock Architects, P.C.

What was your favorite item in the Concord Center Time Capsule? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

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Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer with Bham Now | Originally from Tennessee, Nathan moved to The Magic City after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. Nathan is passionate about recognizing Birmingham's history and is thrilled to learn more about the big things planned for The Magic City's future.

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