Beyond the Build

Community Service

Local Art Reaching for New Heights

There is a new structure in our campus garden. Like most things around here, it has a story.

Green beans need a little guidance to grow properly. You’ve heard of “pole beans?” They got their name from their supports.

When our beans started to get gangly, our gardener Sam suggested we call his friend Lily Montgomery to help with a solution. She’s a metal artist at Sloss Furnaces, the landmark where she teaches a Summer Program for high school students. Each year, 21 kids from all around Birmingham spend 8 weeks learning about welding and making functional art. Lily spent two summers there as a student, and stuck around to share her passion with others.

For our bean trellis, Lily worked with Sam and the Stewart Perry team to design a structure that will become a living part of our garden. She wanted to keep it organic and cellular, but still functional.

To form our support, Lily welded small steel rods using an oxy-acetylene gas welder.

The result is a piece of art slight enough not to be visible from the road. As you approach the garden, the trellis lends structure and a little vertical beauty. We couldn’t be more pleased.

We are always looking for ways to support local artists. It doesn’t hurt that their craft makes our place more beautiful.



Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.