One of Birmingham’s most beloved and iconic landmarks, the Alabama Theatre sign, will be taken down on February 1, for repairs and complete restoration.
The 1800 block of Third Avenue North will be closed to all traffic starting at 9 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 1. The street is scheduled to reopen on Monday, Feb. 4, pending the safe removal of the sign and all attendant equipment.
“This refurbishment brings us closer to completing a three-phase plan for the total restoration of the Alabama Theatre exterior,” says executive director Brant Beene. “Phase one was the replacement of the 18th Street vertical sign. Phase two will be the refurbishment of the Third Avenue sign. Phase three will be the replacement of the marquee, returning the ornate design of 1927 and improving on the original with use of LED bulbs and other 21st century technology.”
According to Birmingham Landmarks, in 1927, the Alabama Theatre had two vertical signs — one on Third Avenue and one on 18th Street. Both were removed in the mid-1950s, and the original 18th Street sign was scrapped. A new 18th Street sign was erected in 2017, after generous donations from the corporate community and a Partners in Preservation grant from the National Trust.
Here is a Bham Now video of the 2018 New Year’s Eve lighting of the 18th Street Alabama Sign. The lighting countdown begins at the 4:00 mark.
The Third Avenue sign was replaced in 1957, with new “instant-type neon” replacing screw-in lightbulbs. After 62 years in service, the refurbished Third Avenue sign will feature LED lighting on letters fabricated by Fravert.
The Third Avenue sign refurbishment follows two meaningful milestones — the grand reopening of the Lyric Theatre and 90th birthday of the Alabama Theatre. Birmingham Landmarks, Inc. recently launched an endowment campaign to sustain both theatres for the next century.
“This sign removal is temporary, but we know the repair will last for decades,” Beene says. “This is a perfect example of why we launched the endowment campaign; it demonstrates the urgent need for patrons who love these theatres to fund it.”
The Birmingham Landmarks Endowment fund has a goal of $5 million. All gifts are tax-deductible and will be deposited in an endowment account at Regions Bank.
To make a cash gift or include Birmingham Landmarks in your estate planning, go to:
For more information about the Alabama or the Lyric, please call 205-ALA-BAMA (205-252-2262).
Author: Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama’s Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama’s cancer risk and mercury standards. View all posts by Pat Byington
The brutal cold gripping Minnesota made itself felt in tens of thousands of living rooms Wednesday as Xcel Energy resorted to asking customers to turn their thermostats down to 63 degrees to conserve natural gas.
The request to Xcel’s more than 400,000 customers came as the utility strained in the sub-zero temperatures to keep up with heating demand.
And a few Minnesotans dealt with the nightmare of having no heat at all.
About 150 homes in the Princeton area, about an hour north of Minneapolis, lost natural gas service about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. In response, Xcel asked about 12,000 customers in nearby Becker, Big Lake, Chisago City, Lindstrom, Princeton and Isanti to turn down their thermostats to 60.
Later in the day, the company expanded that request to all of its 460,000 gas customers in Minnesota, although Xcel expected to keep the advisory in place only until Thursday.
The heating issues weren’t the only challenge posed by the once-in-a-generation chill, as Minnesotans also suffered new frostbite cases, broken water lines and transportation breakdowns.
In the Princeton area, police and fire officials went door-to-door to inform residents about the gas shut-off and that Xcel would put them up in nearby hotels. About two-thirds of those affected by the outage accepted the offer, said company spokesman John Marshall.
According to the Sherburne County sheriff, Xcel also distributed heaters.
Jason Camarena woke up Wednesday morning to find his natural gas service was out and the temperature in his Princeton home had dropped to 54 degrees. He and his wife and two children headed to the nearby AmericInn, but took it all in stride.
“How can you be mad?” Camarena said, noting that Xcel power crews had been out in the bitter cold since 3 a.m.
“I mean they have that, and we have this,” he said, gesturing toward the pool where his children were swimming. To show his appreciation, Camarena brought coffee and hot chocolate Wednesday to the crews at work on the outage near his home.
Greg Butler got the temperature in his home up to 60 degrees with the help of six space heaters.
“I feel like we’ll be all right,” he said.
While Xcel works to restore the heat, the company enlisted the help of licensed plumbers to keep residential pipes from freezing.
“The unprecedented cold and wind that we’re dealing with in Minnesota has customers running their heat almost nonstop which really increases demand on our system,” Xcel said in a statement. “Because we’ve had some outages due to this in central Minnesota, we’re taking further steps and exercising an abundance of caution to help conserve natural gas so the system can continue to operate well throughout the state.”
An engineer with the Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety is in Princeton working with Xcel to ensure that the company follows proper procedures to restore gas service to customers, Jen Longaecker, a department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
CenterPoint Energy, the largest gas utility in Minnesota with nearly 870,000 customers, has not had any major problems, said company spokeswoman Alicia Dixon. “We are not experiencing any low-pressure issues on our system and are not issuing any calls for conservation.”
Meanwhile, the toll from the lingering deep freeze continued to mount. Water pipes burst and cars got stuck with dead batteries and flat tires.
Some schools, including those in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Anoka-Hennepin, Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan, Robbinsdale and Duluth, will remain closed Thursday.
Minnesota hunkered down Wednesday as temperatures bottomed out at 28 below in the Twin Cities and negative 30s and 40s in northern Minnesota. When the wind was factored in, the windchill made it feel like 50 to 66 below, depending on where you were in the state.
The dangerous cold sent dozens to local hospitals. Hennepin Healthcare (HCMC) in Minneapolis has treated 22 patients for frostbite since Friday, including 13 admitted to the hospital, said HCMC spokeswoman Christine Hill. The hospital also has treated numerous other people for cold-related injuries, she added.
Regions Hospital in St. Paul said it has treated 15 cases of frostbite, including some patients who had to be admitted to its burn center.
Meanwhile, the cold has put a crimp in blood donations, leaving just a one-day supply of many blood types, Memorial Blood Centers reported Wednesday.
The organization cancelled its blood drives on Wednesday and many community blood drives this week were also cancelled or postponed, said Larry Silber, Memorial Blood Center spokesman.
“No one here can remember when we had to cancel drives because of the weather,” he said.
Although the organization’s 10 donor centers remained opened, many donors stayed home rather than venture out in the cold, Silber said.
He is hopeful that the organization will get a bump in donations Friday and Saturday when temperatures jump above zero.
Others in Minnesota were mopping up after pipes burst overnight.
When a heating mechanism failed in a White Bear Township water tower, freezing water caused a burst and more than 100,000 gallons of water leaked from the tower’s base, said Patrick Christopherson, the township’s clerk and treasurer.
“No one’s water use or water pressure was affected because we caught it before the water all drained out,” he said.
But about 4 to 6 inches of water that flooded Birch Knoll Drive created an instant skating rink a block long, he said. A garage door on one home that backs up to the water tower was frozen shut.
Crews spent most of the day repairing the heating mechanism and scraping the street of ice, Christopherson said.
In St. Paul, Park Square Theatre employees came to work Wednesday morning in the Hamm Building to find water raining down from the ceiling in the scene shop and seeping down into the dressing and green rooms and tech offices below, said executive director Michael-jon Pease. A couple other pipes on the second and third floors also burst, he said.
When the theater staff inspected the dressing rooms and tech offices in the basement, they discovered that the sewer pipes also froze and sewage had backed up, Pease said.
“So we were a tier-three biohazard for the most of the day,” he added with a laugh.
The set pieces for its upcoming “The Skin of Our Teeth” performance that begins Feb. 7 will have to be rebuilt and painted but should be ready for the start of its run, Pease said. The theater’s spaces in the basement likely won’t be cleaned up and repaired until later, he added.
Outreach workers in the Twin Cities continued to scramble to provide warm clothing to homeless people and direct them to warming stations. Though several shelters said they would remain open around the clock, advocates say the system is not sufficient to house everyone who needs it.
“We’re always in a crisis,” said John Tribbett, street outreach program manager at St. Stephen’s Human Services, a nonprofit serving vulnerable and homeless adults. But efforts “kicked into overdrive” this week when temperatures plunged below zero, which could be fatal for those on the street.
A biannual report conducted by St. Stephen’s and the Hennepin County Office to End Homelessness last July estimated there were between 400 and 532 homeless people sleeping outside of shelters — most of whom spend their nights at transit stops or on light-rail trains.
Each winter, a number of those people lose fingers, toes and ears due to exposure, Tribbett said. During daily welfare checks at known encampments, his team ensures people have survived the night. This week, they found a man in a wheelchair sleeping at a bus station.
At First Covenant Shelter, workers have put down additional sleeping mats so they don’t have to turn people away.
As dusk fell Wednesday, around 60 people sought refuge inside its warm basement to sleep or converse as volunteers cooked a batch of chili.
“This place is a godsend,” said 33-year-old Bernadette Charlton, who hasn’t had permanent housing for over a year. Charlton and her husband, Otis Edwards, say they’ve been hopping from place to place — sleeping in cars, garages and apartment complex hallways. “This is the hardest winter I’ve ever experienced,” she said.
Staff writers Liz Sawyer and Paul Walsh contributed to this report.
The Alabama Theatre’s iconic “blade” sign on Third Avenue North will be taken down on Friday for refurbishment, and could be gone for up to 18 months, theater organizers said today.
The sign, a beloved landmark in downtown Birmingham, has been in service for 62 years, drawing folks to the 2,150-seat theater at 1817 Third Ave. North.
Fravert Services, a local company that specializes in architectural signage, will start work on Thursday, organizers at the theater said. Dismantling and removal of the sign will start on Friday, and the 1800 block of Third Avenue North — the street in front of the theater — will be closed starting at 9 a.m. that day.
The street is scheduled to reopen on Monday, once the sign and its equipment have been safely removed, theater organizers said. The main entrance to the Alabama Theatre will be closed throughout the weekend. During that time, people can enter the theater through the stage door on 18th Street North or doors in the alley off 18th Street, between the theater and the parking deck of McWane Science Center.
Sprucing up the sign is part of a long-term plan to restore the exterior of the historic theater, which was built in 1927. The theater is owned by Birmingham Landmarks, a nonprofit organization that also owns the nearby Lyric Theatre.
“This refurbishment brings us closer to completing a three-phase plan for the total restoration of the Alabama Theatre exterior,” Brant Beene, executive director of Birmingham Landmarks, said in a press release. “Phase one was the replacement of the 18th Street vertical sign. Phase two will be the refurbishment of the Third Avenue sign. Phase three will be the replacement of the marquee, returning the ornate design of 1927 and improving on the original with use of LED bulbs and other 21st century technology.”
When it opened, the Alabama Theatre had two vertical signs, marking the building on Third Avenue North and 18th Street North. Both signs were removed in the mid-1950s, and a new sign on Third Avenue was installed in 1957. That sign, which features what organizers called “instant-type neon,” will have LED lighting when it returns to the building.
The Alabama lacked a sign on its 18th Street side until 2017, when a replica of the previous sign was created and installed. The theater received a financial boost for the sign that year, winning a $120,000 preservation grant in an online contest sponsored by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The new 18th Street sign made its official debut on New Year’s Eve 2017, illuminated at midnight during a celebration that marked the Alabama’s 90th anniversary. More 150,000 people visit the theater each year for concerts, movies, dance recitals, theater performances and other events, organizers said.
Now up for grabs in Los Feliz is a fanciful time capsule from Hollywood’s heady early days.
Located north of Los Feliz Boulevard on Cromwell Avenue, the Mediterranean Revival estate was built in 1921 for Victor Schertzinger, a director of silent and sound films, screenwriter, and composer credited with bringing music to the movie screen.
The home was designed by Frank L. Meline, the (unlicensed) architect of numerous homes in moneyed enclaves such as Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and Hancock Park, while its lush gardens and landscaping were done by renowned landscape architect Mark Roy Daniels, whose body of work includes Pebble Beach’s “17 Mile Drive” and the layout of Bel Air.
Per the listing, the property’s main residence measures 6,655 square feet, contains five bedrooms and five baths, and is packed with extravagant details. Among the home’s notable features: scalloped doorways, coffered woodwork, ornate moldings, wrought iron sconces, carved marble fireplaces, a sizable ceiling fresco, and a “full pipe organ relocated from the Monterey Theatre in 1925.”
On the palm-tree-shaded grounds, you’ll find a lute-shaped pool, pool or guest house, tiled fountains, and a lovely dining pavilion with kitchen.
Asking price for the .67-acre property is $5.25 million, which presumably reflects the need for restoration. However, the listing notes, “recently completed plans to restore this magical estate by Richard Manion Architecture Inc. are available.”
Surgeons at Kenyatta National Hospital have successfully reattached a teenager’s severed manhood after a seven-hour operation.
Led by Prof Stanely Khainga, the team of urologists and plastic surgeons worked to reattach the teenager’s organ which was severed after an attack at his home.
The 16 year old teenager, only known as A.M. for reasons of protecting his privacy, was assaulted by unknown people at around 1 a.m. on the night of December 18, 2018.
During the horrifying night attack that took place at the Form Three student’s home, the assailants severed his male reproductive organ or penis.
“We received the case as a referral from one of the county hospitals at around 9 a.m. on December 19, 2018. His penis had been amputated at the base using a kitchen knife,” said Prof Khainga.
“Upon arrival, the patient was sick looking, confused and slightly pale but stable. He was received by a team of urologists and plastic surgeons,” the medic said.
“After initial examination and resuscitation, we immediately prepared him for theatre where we began the process of re-implantation of the penis,” said Prof Khainga.
The team, which included University of Nairobi lecturer and blood vessel or microvascular surgeon Dr Ferdinand Nangole, Dr Jujo and Dr Were, first examined the stump left behind when the organ was cut off.
“On examining the stump, we noticed it had been dressed to stop the bleeding that occurred immediately after the incident. It also had minimal soiling, with the blood vessels around the base and urethra, which passes urine, exposed,” he said.
The surgeon said the knife had sliced clean through the base of the penis, in an act he termed as “a guillotine-like amputation through the organ’s base”.
A guillotine is a device consisting of a large knife blade that fell on the victim’s neck that was invented during the French Revolution to cut off the heads of condemned prisoners.
Such as an occurrence is known as a total penile amputation in medical terms.
In the surgical procedures carried out to manage total penile amputations, patients are managed by re-suturing or restoring the penile structures while repairing the vessels.
The US National Library of Medicine reports that there have been some few cases of failure of the organ to recover sensory abilities, despite the penile shaft surviving the operation.
This is the first time an operation of this kind was successfully carried out on Kenyan soil.
Prof Khainga said the goal of the procedure was to achieve normal function.
“Our management goal was to restore normal function, which consists of urination, or passing urine, sexual gratification, improved self or body image and reproduction. We also sought to achieve adequate aesthetic appearance or normal appearance of the organ, including length,” he said.
During the seven hour procedure, the surgical team inserted a catheter into the severed organ to act as a support or stent during re-implantation.
They then proceeded to carry out the delicate process of repairing the urethra or passage used to pass urine and semen out of the penis, known as urethroplasty.
Urethroplasty is an open surgical reconstruction or replacement of the urethra that has been narrowed by scar tissue. The procedure is done to increase the size of the urine channel to improve urine flow.
Doctors also carried out debridement of the penis and the stump. This is the removal of necrotic tissue to promote the healing of a wound. This is because the affected area can sometimes end up getting covered with dead or necrotic tissue. This can be harmful to the body’s ability to recover and develop new skin, making debridement a necessary to remove all that dead material.
Another procedure that doctors successfully completed was the repair of the corpus spongiosum, which contains spongy erectile tissue.
Still working on the affected organ, medics surgically repaired the corpus cavernosus, which is a band of tissue that helps to facilitates penile erections.
The repair of the penile shaft included the restoration of normal blood flow and function in the blood vessels known as cavernosal arteries that run along the middle of each corpus cavernosa.
Prof Khainga said the patient was now stable and doing well on the road to recovery.
“” He has done well and is reporting erections with adequate length. His wounds have also healed, he said.
The surgeon said the patient is due for discharge in a fortnight.
“A.M. is due for a discharge in the next two weeks after the removal of the urethral catheter, which was placed in the urethra to facilitate the passage of urine as he recovers,” said the medic.
The referral facility has so far refused to reveal details of the teenager’s identity and the circumstances of the attack, citing the need to protect the patient’s privacy and confidentiality.