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Two Gems January 31, 2007

Posted by cbuchanan in Uncategorized.

By now it’s been established that I love vintage images on walls–ghostly painted ads, neon signs, etc. But I’m also fond of visuals on floors, and in the heyday of downtown Birmingham’s department stores, a few of them had elaborate, colorful images in terrazzo right at their front entryways. Tonight, as I was walking to Speakeasy, I discovered two of them. Well, “rediscovered” is the more accurate word, since I had seen them before, but they were always so dark and grimy, and for about the past two years, they’ve been hidden behind plywood as their buildings got renovated into lofts and apartments. Anyway, next time you’re downtown, go check these out:

On the 3rd Ave. N. side of the Blach’s Building (at 3rd and 20th St.), find the double doors, look down, and check out the old department store’s delicate but detailed “Fair and Square” logo. It’s too bad the terrazzo isn’t out in the open so everyone can see it closely (like it used to be–the doors originally were *behind* the terrazzo), but at least it looks untouched by the renovation. In another nice move, whoever restored the building kept Blach’s funky midcentury handles on the double doors.

Now for the stunner: Walk a door or two down 3rd Ave. and check out the entry to the Kessler Building. I never really noticed the unusual curved glass show windows until I saw them in a book and the real things were behind plywood–and I don’t recall ever seeing the floor–but both have been restored. And just look at that floor! A multicolored terrazzo swirl that brings to mind the spiral start of the Yellow Brick Road in the movie The Wizard of Oz! Where’s my camera?! The lights above also echo the swirl–I don’t know if that’s restoring anything, but I like it.

Kudos to the building owners for preserving those details! I swear that Kessler’s swirl has me hypnotized. :)



1. Dystopos - February 1, 2007

I think you may have walked right past an old “Parisian” logo in that dark-brown mosaic entranceway adjacent to the Blach’s building. Or maybe I’m a block off.

2. susannah - February 5, 2007

Wow, can’t wait to go observe this stuff! Great tips!

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