Neighbors try to save historical abandoned houses

Birmingham spends time and resources dealing with the growing number of abandoned properties within the city limits.{}But ABC 33/40 got a peek into the past through history-filled homes now sitting empty.

It's not the way anyone would want to describe their childhood home.

"It's really an eyesore," Andre Brown, Fountain Heights Neighborhood President said. "You ride around and see these houses that are just falling apart. Nobody lives in them, and then the homeless might come in and they start destroying them."

Fountain Heights has certainly seen better days.

"We don't want the burning down thing to go on in our neighborhood," Johnny Summerville, lifelong Fountain Heights resident said. "We want to try to save them before we get to that point."

"Rats, roaches, diseases, it creates all types of problems," Brown said.

So why would they want to save this street full of abandoned houses? Local history buffs tell us, back in the early 1900's, this area was home to some of Birmingham's most prominent and wealthy business leaders.{}

"Those with wealth lived in the higher property - it was cooler!" Marjorie White, Director, Birmingham Historical Society said.

'These were some of the most beautiful houses in the city!" Brown said.

The historical society's research shows that back in 1898, there were only two streets running through Fountain Heights. But in the early 1900's the street car came roaring up the big hill and bringing with it the city's most influential.

"An area of Jewish settlement extended from there up to 13th Ave. And then to the West," White said. {}"One of its claims to fame was it had a weather station for Birmingham for 40 years and the weatherman did his broadcasting from there."{}

"They were in isolated grandeur!" she said.

"We have some beautiful homes here that have been abused that could be brought back to life!" Summerville said.

"Fountain Heights is a wonderful area to live in now, it's a cleaner and safer area to live in, and we have to keep moving forward along with the city," Brown said.

The Fountain Heights neighborhood President says he plans to petition the city's historical preservation department to have a survey conducted -{}that's a first step toward saving the homes.