Homewood is located in southwest Jefferson County in the central part of Alabama. It has a mayor-city council form of government.
The first settlers arrived in what is now the Homewood area in the early 1800s. The area did not experience significant growth until the rapidly growing city of Birmingham suffered a major cholera epidemic in 1873. In response, many Birmingham residents began looking for a healthier environment in which to live. Speculators began buying up land and developing communities in the countryside surrounding Birmingham. A number of communities that eventually would merge to become Homewood sprang up during this period, including Rosedale, Grove Park, Edgewood, and Oak Grove. Edgewood saw probably the greatest amount of development, boasting its own Electric Railway to downtown Birmingham by 1911 and a man-made lake by 1915. It incorporated in 1920.
In 1926, Charles Rice, a local attorney often referred to as the "Father of Homewood," established a movement to merge several of the communities, and in September of that year, Rosedale, Edgewood, and Grove Park voted to merge and incorporate under the name Homewood. The first city hall complex was built in 1928, and the town of Hollywood became part of the city in 1929.
The Great Depression and a polio epidemic, which sickened 80 children, greatly damaged the city's economy and social fabric. The region's economy picked up after the outbreak of World War II and the accompanying boom in Birmingham's steel mills as they ramped up production for the war effort. During the 1940s, the police and fire departments doubled in size, and a new public library was built. The city's population increased by 74 percent between 1940 and 1950. Oak Grove was annexed into Homewood in 1955.
Homewood voters defeated a move by Birmingham to annex the city in 1959. A second attempt apparently succeeded by just six votes in July 1964, but voting irregularities and lawsuits kept the outcome of that election in the courts until September 9, 1966, when the Alabama Supreme Court ruled the 1964 vote null and void. In a special election on December 13, 1966, 65 percent of Homewood residents voted against the annexation.
Homewood escaped the worst of the violence that plagued nearby Birmingham during the civil rights movement of the early 1960s, although an apparently racially motivated bombing did take place in Homewood's Rosedale community in 1963. In 1970, the city created its own school system, breaking away from the Jefferson County system. The new Homewood High School opened in December 1972.
According to the 2010 Census, Homewood's population was 25,167. Of that number, 74.6 percent identified themselves as white, 17.3 percent as black, 7.3 percent as Hispanic, 2.2 percent as Asian, and 0.2 percent as Native American. The city's median household income was $54,689, and per capita income was $28,700.
The workforce in present-day Homewood is divided among the following occupational categories:
· Educational services, and health care and social assistance (30.6 percent)
· Professional, scientific, management, and administrative and waste management services (16.7 percent)
· Finance, insurance, and real estate, rental, and leasing (11.5 percent)
· Retail trade (11.4 percent)
· Arts, entertainment, recreation, and accommodation and food services (6.7 percent)
· Other services, except public administration (6.1 percent)
· Information (3.8 percent)
· Transportation and warehousing and utilities (3.6 percent)
· Manufacturing (2.9 percent)
· Construction (2.8 percent)
· Wholesale trade (2.6 percent)
· Public administration (1.1 percent)
· Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and extractive (0.2 percent)
Homewood is served by numerous roads, including U.S. Highway 31and Interstate 65 (both north-south). Interstates 20 and 59 lie just north of the city. The closest airport to Homewood is the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, approximately 10 miles to the north.
Schools in Homewood are part of the Homewood City School District; the town has approximately 3,211 students and 250 teachers in three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Four private schools have approximately 961 students and 63 teachers.
Events and Places of Interest
The Hollywood Historic District, the Rosedale Historic District, and the Rosedale Park Historic District are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition, the Gates-Ballew House is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage.
The Homewood Community Center includes fitness facilities and a swimming pool. The city also has a Senior Center with a computer room that offers instruction in basic computer skills, a kitchen, game room, and arts and crafts room. The Lee Community Center includes a basketball court and a computer room, and offers many youth programs and camps.
Sports venues include a soccer park, baseball and softball fields, and a youth football/lacrosse field. City parks offer two swimming pools, picnic areas and pavilions, walking and running tracks, playground equipment, and an amphitheater.
Annual events include an Easter Egg Hunt; a We Love Homewood day in early May with arts and crafts and food vendors, and musical
entertainment; a Fourth of July celebration with rides, food, entertainment, and city fireworks; A Back to School Bash held
at Homewood Central Park in late August that features rides, food, and entertainment; a Fall Festival in late October at the
Homewood Community Center with games, a costume contest, and concession stand; the winter Salamander Festival, sponsored by
the Friends of Shades Creek; and an annual Christmas Parade.
Jefferson County Heritage Book Committee. The Heritage of Jefferson County, Alabama. Clanton, Ala.: Heritage Publishing Consultants, 2002.
Summe, Sheryl Spradling. Homewood: The Life of a City. Homewood, Ala.: Friends of the Homewood Public Library, 2001.
James P. Kaetz
Published August 8, 2011
Last updated December 3, 2012