|City/Town: • Birmingham|
|Location Class: • Residential|
|Built: • 1907 | Abandoned: • 2016|
|Status: • Abandoned • Private Property|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
The Bradley-Smith House is a Greek Revival-style mansion constructed in 1907 for attorney Lee Bradley, located in a Jemison Company subdivision between George Ward Park and Glen Iris Park. The red brick house was designed by Thomas Walter III with Sydney Ullman, who built several notable homes in the area including the residence of Robert Jemison, Sr. inspired by his wife’s Louisiana heritage, Bradley’s home features a wraparound, two-story gallery supported on fourteen Corinthian columns, with a projecting four-column portico.
Thomas U. Walter III, Architect
Thomas Ustick Walter III was born on January 24, 1864, in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of engineer and photographer Thomas Ustick Walter Jr. and Laura Ashby. He was also the grandson of the famous and well-respected architect Thomas Ustick Walter who is notable for redesigning the U. S. Capitol as it stands today. He added the famous Dome and the East and West wings that house the Senate and Library.
Thomas Walter III came to Birmingham sometime in the late-1890s and took on his first major commission designing the first hospital building of the newly established St. Vincent’s Hospital. He opened an office as Thomas U. Walter & Co. Architects on the 4th floor of the Chalifoux Building where the Jemison Flats apartment building currently stands. He provided several designs for Edward Cullom’s Cullom Place development. Soon he was collaborating with landscape architect Samuel Parsons on the design for Glen Iris Park and was the architect of Robert Jemison Sr.’s residence there. He then joined Jemison as a partner in the Glenview Realty Company.
By 1908, Walter had largely given up architectural design in favor of real estate development. He acted as a sales agent for Mountain Terrace as an employee of Robert Jemison Jr.’s company, the Jemison Company. He and appraiser Jerome Tucker derived the “Tucker-Walter Rule” used to determine the depth of residential lots on Birmingham’s hillsides. Walter is also credited with establishing the limits of downtown Birmingham as the area between 13th and 26th Streets and between 8th Avenue North and 8th Avenue South.
In financial trouble, Walter borrowed a sum of money from fellow architect David O. Whilldon, secured by his grandfather’s drawing of the U.S. Capitol dome. Whilldon retained the drawings after Walter was unable to repay him, and donated the drawings to the Birmingham Museum of Art. Walter died on January 31, 1931, and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk, Virginia.
Lee C. Bradley, Attorney
Lee Carrington Bradley was born in Birmingham, Alabama on November 12, 1871, the son of Richard Carrington and Sarah Gurley Bradley, members of pioneer Alabama families. He graduated with a Master of Arts degree from Southern University in Greensboro, now Birmingham Southern College, in 1890, and in 1892, began practicing law in Birmingham. He was appointed Jefferson County’s assistant county solicitor in 1893 and became county solicitor in 1896. On June 24, 1896, Lee C. Bradley married Eleanor “Ellie” Lyons, and the couple had two children together; Lee Carrington Bradley Jr. and Thomas Lyons Bradley.
In 1904, he and John P. Tillman, Judge William I. Grubb, and Hugh Morrow organized the law firm of Tillman, Grubb, Bradley & Morrow. The firm went through a few changes in personnel over the years, becoming Bradley, Baldwin, All & White. Mr. Bradley was a member of the firm until his death.
Lee C. Bradley’s fame as a lawyer was not only confined to Alabama, so when President Woodrow Wilson began looking around for someone to serve as counsel for the alien property custodian, he selected the Birmingham native, who distinguished himself in that office. It was through the instrumentality of Mr. Bradley that the alien property custodian was given authority to dispose of perishable goods taken over by him, which were deteriorating in warehouses and other storage facilities. He suggested to the custodian that he asks Congress to pass the necessary legislation empowering the custodian to sell or otherwise dispose of the perishable property.
Bradley took the matter up with Senator Oscar W. Underwood, Democratic leader in the Senate, who attached an amendment to a bill coming up that day for passage. Senator Underwood explained the necessity and the urgency for the measure, and it passed without question, was sent to the House at once, and immediately passed by that body. Bradley served in this position without pay.
Returning home, Bradley resumed the law practice. He was appointed by Judge Grubb of the United States District Court in Birmingham as receiver for the Birmingham Railway, Light, & Power Company, owner and operator of the street railway, gas, and electric utility system. He was largely responsible for the successful termination of the receivership and the organization of the Birmingham Electric Company, which took over the assets of the Birmingham Railway, Light & Power Company.
Among his other business connections was that of director and member of the executive committee of the Birmingham Savings Bank & Trust Company. Bradley was one of the organizers and for several years a stockholder in the Birmingham baseball club, a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, the Birmingham, Alabama, and American Bar Associations, the bar of the City of New York, and the Birmingham Country Club. Lee Carrington Bradley Sr. died on May 31, 1942. His funeral was held at his residence on Idlewild Circle and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.
It is said that their favorite son, Thomas, was home from college and choked to death at the kitchen table on oyster shell shards in 1920. Since then, his mother always had a place set at the dining table for him. After her husband’s death, Eleanor continued to live in the home until her death in 1967, when the home was soon purchased by Ollie and Carolyn Smith.
Ollie D. Smith
Ollie D. Smith, Attorney
Ollie Dalton Smith was born on November 2, 1919, in Mobile, Alabama. He was the youngest agent in the Washington, D.C. office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and then graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1947. He married Carolyn Meadows, and they had four children; Dr. Logan Smith, Amanda Smith Vinson, Louisa Smith, and Dalton Smith. Ollie worked as an attorney at Martin, Turner & McWhorter which later became Balch & Bingham. He then became manager of the Land Department for Alabama Power Company, and eventually vice president of that company. Ollie Smith died on October 14, 2016. In 2022, the property was transferred within the family to an LLC.
Ollie and his wife Carolyn Meadows Smith owned the property that the former Bradley residence sits on as far back as the late 1960s. The Idlewild Circle subdivision had many large, fine houses, most of which were demolished to be replaced with apartment complexes and more modern construction.
Ollie Smith had an apartment complex built adjacent to the house in 1963, financed by a $53,000 loan from Mutual of New York arranged by Cobbs, Allen, & Hall Mortgage Company, Inc. The Smiths held many events at their home including the Annual House and Garden Pilgrimage and a New Orleans Jubilee where they renamed their home “Maison de Jubilee” for the event. The home was also added to the city’s Beautification Board honor roll in 1978. Today, the home remains in the family, although vacant with minor upkeep and repairs.
The Birmingham News. (June 1, 1942). Illness In Hospital Here Fatal To Lee Carrington Bradley, Sr.
Al.com. (retrieved February 4, 2023). Ollie D. Smith obituary
Well researched and written. Howard Weir author of “A Paradise of Blood, The Creek war of 1813-11814”