|City/Town: • Birmingham|
|Location Class: • Industrial|
|Built: • 1915 | Abandoned: • 2006|
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
The Finley Roundhouse was built in 1915 by the Southern Railway Company at its Finley Memorial Yard located in northwest Birmingham. The roundhouse was constructed of reinforced concrete with a tar and gravel roof a shop floor made up of creosoted wood blocks over a 5″ thick concrete slab. It featured 25 engine berths arrayed around an open-air turntable and an elevated central section that included a double band of clerestory windows to illuminate the work area with natural lighting.
As time went on, steam locomotives were replaced by diesel and railroads were losing business to the ever-growing popularity of semi-trucks. Finley yard was dismantled in 1952 as Southern Railway moved its operations to the Norris Yard in Irondale, selling the property and roundhouse to the American Cast Iron Pipe Company and the Alabama Farmers Market. In the mid-1950s, the roundhouse was then sold to the Shaw Warehouse Company to be converted into a cold storage warehouse and a rectangular warehouse was built adjacent to it. The interior floor was raised with the addition of a new concrete slab, converting the locomotive bay entrances into truck docks, and a spur track was constructed for refrigerator trucks to be unloaded at the rear of the building.
The warehouse closed in 2003 and was left abandoned three years later. A decade later, a tornado damaged the adjacent 1950s warehouse, but the reinforced concrete roundhouse remained unscathed. In 2017 the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alabama Historical Commission added the roundhouse to their annual list of “Places in Peril”. The roundhouse remains one of two surviving roundhouses in Birmingham and the largest structure of its type in Alabama.