The history of Birmingham’s Edison Building [Photos]

Edison Building
1930’s photo of the Edison Building. (Dean Taitz)

Did you know that a historic Birmingham building was once owned by Thomas Edison’s Edison Electric Illuminating Company? We took a tour of the historic Edison Building in Downtown Birmingham to learn more.

Birmingham’s Edison Building

Edison Building
1960’s photo of the Edison Building. (Dean Taitz)

Established in 1880 by famed inventor Thomas Edison, the Edison Electric Illuminating Company developed some of the earliest electrical power generating stations in the United States. The company built facilities in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland and more before being purchased by Consolidated Gas in 1901.

Although the majority of the Edison Electric facilities were located in the northeast, the company constructed a three-story brick power generating facility at 1620 3rd Avenue North in Birmingham in 1886.

“It took almost seven years to build, and at the time it was one of only four buildings in Birmingham to have an interior lightwell.”

Dean Taitz, Owner, Edison Building

After Edison Electric vacated the space in 1901, historical records provided by the owner of the building show:

  • The building was used as an automobile dealer, and later an automobile repair facility. (c.1920 – c.1935)
  • Next, the building was home to a publishing company, which also included printing in later years. (c. 1940 – c. 1946)
  • Then, the building was used as a furniture facility. (c. 1952 – c. 1976)
  • Finally, the Edison Building was used as a blood bank and plasma center. (1986 – 2013)

After the blood bank moved in 2013, the building remained vacant until 2021—when a local developer purchased the space with big plans.

What is the Edison Building used for today?

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Dean Taitz, owner of the Edison Building. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Local developer Dean Taitz recently purchased the Edison Building in order to transform the structure into a mixed-use development, complete with residential and commercial space. Over an eight-month period, he worked with historic preservation consultant Linda Nelson to update the building while making sure it kept its historic charm.

“I’ve gotten some great feedback on the units; a few realtors have even told me that these are the best they’ve seen downtown. I want to provide a modern, spacious and comfortable home for my residents. That’s why my units are double the size of anything else you’ll find with laundry rooms to match.”

Dean Taitz, Owner, Edison Building
Edison Building
The exterior of the Edison Building on 3rd Avenue North. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Taitz hopes to lease out the 5,200-square-foot office space on the first floor to a local retailer or restaurant.

“I’d love to create an art gallery—complete with a bar—in the back of the first floor, but the front part would be perfect for a restaurant. When I first had this building under contract, I had several restaurants interested. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit three months later and those restaurants have all gone away.”

Dean Taitz, Owner, Edison Building
Edison Building
One of the available residential units in the Edison Building. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

On the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Edison Building, Dean has built out four large loft-style apartment units.

“I’m a big believer in creating spaces that people enjoy living in. Not a lot of people enjoy living in a 496-square-foot studio apartment. I didn’t want to turn this building into a bunch of micro-units; instead, we’ve got four units ranging from roughly 1,200 square-feet to 1,500 square-feet.”

Dean Taitz, Owner, Edison Building
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Want to learn more about living or working in the historic Edison Building? You can reach out to the owner via email or by calling 847.513.4688.

What is your favorite part about the Edison Building? Tag us @bhamnow to let us know!

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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