December 26, 1927, The Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, dubbed “The Showplace of the South” opened its doors to the public for the first time. This lovely piece of history is a great single-day destination.
A Star Attraction
The Alabama was a star attraction in the bustling downtown scene that was Birmingham, and on any given night it was a virtual who’s who of Birmingham society.
But, as time wore on and the populace began an ever-increasing exodus for the suburbs, The Alabama was forced to close its doors, along with many other downtown businesses. The early 1980s looked especially grim for the once-grand movie palace.
Then a small group of citizens decided they wanted to preserve the historic theater and began a campaign to revitalize The Alabama and turn it into a performing arts center. That group of citizens eventually turned into Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. and took ownership of the building in May of 1987.
In the past 27 years, The Alabama has seen a resurgence and revitalization greater than the volunteers could have imagined. The theater hosts a wide variety of public and private events such as:
- National touring shows
- Classic movies
- Opera and symphony presentations
- An ever-growing film festival
- Popular Christmas movie extravaganzas
A Must-Have Experience
If you have never had the pleasure of attending a movie or event in a “grand movie palace” it is truly a must-have experience.
Walking down to the front rows or climbing the stairs to one of the many balconies overlooking the stage, you can feel yourself stepping back in time and experiencing the opulence that is missing from our modern-day venues.
Once you have picked a seat you realize that, by design, no matter where you sit, there is not a bad seat in the house.
As you admire the design and the architecture from your seat, chills run down your spine as the notes from the largest Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ in the south fill the theater as the organist begins to play. The sound seems to encompass you, providing an auditory delight, which is only heightened when the crowd begins to sing along. All of this and the movie has not even begun.
Once the movie starts and the hush falls over the crowd, you realize that you are truly experiencing the movie and not just watching it. You and everyone in the theater are transported back to a slower time as you are gathered together in a collective enjoyment of not only the movie, but also the atmosphere.
Explore The Alabama Theatre
If you decide to make a trip to The Alabama, be sure to come for more than just the movie.
Your experience starts in front of the theater where you can see some of Alabama’s brightest stars remembered on the Alabama Walk of Fame. Once inside the theater, there is plenty to explore.
The architecture, the design, the decorations, and what one volunteer refers to as “the nicest bathrooms in Birmingham” (which is true by the way).
All of the staff are very friendly and are more than happy to tell some tales about The Alabama, or provide a wealth of information on the historic location.