Not long ago, the once-grand home Dr. John R. Drish built in Tuscaloosa was in imminent danger. Long vacant, the place was home to assorted varmints, a favorite haunt of the homeless, a target of condemnation by the city, and an eyesore to many locals. Today, thanks to the generosity of the Southside Baptist Church and the foresight of the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society, preservationists are breathing new life into the historic structure, and its future looks promising.
This year marks a year-long centennial celebration of the Rosenwald rural school building program. This program has been described as “one of the most ambitious school building programs ever witnessed in the United States.” And it all began in Alabama as a collaboration between a nationally renowned educator and a prominent businessman.
Free blacks in the antebellum South led precarious lives. Respected by slaves, with whom they shared skin color but not bondage, free persons of color were often feared by whites, who suspected they might be the fuse with which Northern abolitionists ignited a slave rebellion in the South. To prevent such an occurrence, Southern whites passed a series of laws throughout the first half of the nineteenth century restricting the actions of free blacks.
Not so long ago, scores of country stores were scattered across rural Alabama—at dusty crossroads or along a lonely stretch of blacktop knifing through fields and tangled woodlands, or huddled beside an isolated railway crossing. Mostly they were humble, expedient buildings, devoid of pretension, built to serve a plain agrarian society while enriching the coffers of some enterprising local merchant.
From the Vault
Read complete classic articles and departments featured in Alabama Heritage magazine in the past 35 years of publishing. You'll find in-depth features along with quirky and fun departments that cover the people, places, and events that make our state great!