Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Simpson Building

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Institution Name: Birmingham-Southern College
Original/Historic Place Name: Simpson Preparatory School
Location on Campus: sw of Academic Quad facing 8th Ave. West
Date(s) of Construction:
1923original construction Whildin, D. O.
Designer: D. O. Whildin
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Other (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, education
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: stucco over brick
Walls: stucco over brick
Roof: concrete tile
ca. 1923classrooms
ca. 1923other (built as a preparatory school for teachers in training at the college)
ca. 1940other (Birmingham College of Music, which became a part of the college in 1953)
ca. 2004-present (2006)other (abandoned, except as a storage site)

The Simpson School is typical of the educational facilities of its time. It is a two-story, U-shaped structure with a gymnasium facility built into the courtyard. The building's primary facade runs along Eighth Avenue and is side-gabled with a slightly projecting gabled central entry bay. It is defined largely by its generous windows: on the first floor they are metal casement, and on the second floor they are wood casement with deep multipane transoms above them. The gabled end bays have attic vents in the form of cartouches in limestone, and the main portals are surrounded by a coursed limestone facing with a somewhat Egyptian entablature and surmounting Palladian window.

Simpson was built as a preparatory school teaching facility for teachers in training at the College and also alleviated a crowded classroom situation in the old Rose Owen Hall. In 1940 it became the home of the Birmingham Conservatory of Music, which leased it from the College; and in 1953 the Conservatory became part of the College. Like the other buildings on this list, Simpson School was built during the presidency of Dr. Guy Everett Snavely, whose administration opened the mission of the College beyond the classical and ministerial studies offered by Southern University and Birmingham College. Simpson School represented a major part of that initiative.


Nelson, Linda, and Michelle Crunk. Birmingham-Southern College. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1999.

Parks, Joseph Howard, and Oliver C. Weaver. Birmingham-Southern College, 1856-1956. Nashville, TN: Parthenon Press, 1957.

Stayer, Samuel N., and Robert G. Corley. View from the Hilltop: The First 125 years of Birmingham-Southern College. Birmingham: Birmingham-Southern College, 1981.


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Last update: November 2006