Beyond the Build

Conservation

L.E.D. Zeppelin

(Jim Sulley/newscast)Every city has its symbols. Here in Birmingham, many associate Vulcan with downtown, but we are seeing the revival of many other icons that got lost in history. We’re pleased to be a part of one such restoration at our Thomas Jefferson Tower project on the west side of the city’s central business district.

Mooring Mast 1Originally completed in 1926, the Thomas Jefferson is home to the last rooftop zeppelin mooring mast in the world. After World War I and before the Hindenburg disaster, travel by dirigible was considered the next great trend in intercontinental transport. Cities around the world began building docking stations as a part of their infrastructure. Birmingham’s station atop the Thomas Jefferson was located right across the street from the city’s main train station, making 2nd Avenue and 17th Street–the Thomas Jefferson Tower–the gateway to the Magic City.

Through the years, the unused docking station deteriorated. Judging by photos, the top was either removed or fell off some time in the 1950s. As part of our restoration, it’s our mission to recreate the missing piece and light it as a modern symbol of our city. 

Our team was able to replicate the original design from old photographs, and we are having the top half of the frame fabricated. We have procured an LED lighting system that replicates stage lighting. Much like the Empire State Building, the driver will be connected to Internet so we can change the color and intensity of lighting remotely. It’s our hope that the tower atop the Thomas Jefferson will again be a Birmingham icon, acknowledging our past, and becoming a beacon for our city’s future.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

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