Robert Jemison, Jr., 1878-1974
Personal and Business Papers
AR 006, 857, 882, 896, 1083, 1159, 1160, 1161
Jemison, Jr., was born on February 28, 1878, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. In 1884,
his father, Robert Jemison, Sr., moved the family to a new home on Sixth Avenue
and Twenty-First Street in Birmingham. Jemison attended Powell School and South
Highland Academy in Birmingham before enrolling in the University of Alabama in
1895 and finishing college at the University of the South, Sewanee, in 1899.
After graduation, Jemison returned to Birmingham where he began his career as a
hardware store clerk before establishing himself in the real estate business. He
and his wife Virginia Earle Walker married in 1901 and had three children.
Jemison was involved in many civic organizations throughout his life, including
service as the first president of the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, first
chairman of the Birmingham Chapter of the American Red Cross, and a chairman of
the Community Chest/United Fund.
In 1903, Jemison organized Jemison Real Estate & Insurance Company, and it was
as a real estate developer that Jemison would shape the landscape of the South’s
most prominent industrial city throughout the twentieth century. During his
early career, Jemison developed Ensley Highlands, Earle Place, and Central Park,
all communities and subdivisions in western Birmingham designed primarily based
on the grid system. Later Jemison developments, however, would take advantage of
natural contours and features of the land while providing modern conveniences
such as paved streets, sidewalks, sanitary sewers, and gas lighting. It is for
this vision of designing with the land to provide healthful and beautiful
environments both for the land and its inhabitants that Jemison is best
remembered. To help him translate this vision to reality on the landscape of
Birmingham, Jemison hired the best local and national practitioners. He hired
noted planner Samuel E. Parsons of New York to plan Mountain Terrace (now Forest
Park); distinguished Boston landscape architect George H. Miller to plan the
model industrial town of Corey (now Fairfield) and the estates of Altamont Road
and Valley View; the Joy brothers to design Roebuck Springs and Roebuck Terrace;
local engineer John H. Gladner, Jr., and landscape architect William H. Kessler
to design the upscale residential area of Redmont Park; and Boston landscape
designer Warren H. Manning to design Mountain Brook Estates, the culminating
achievement of the Jemison Companies.
Scope and Content
Robert Jemison, Jr., collections contain a wide range of materials related to
both personal and business matters. Jemison’s business papers contain
correspondence, legal agreements, maps, blueprints, photographs, promotional
materials, brochures, and other records related to Jemison’s real estate
development ventures. Copies of The Jemison Magazine for the years 1910-1914 and
1926-1930 covering the development of Fairfield (Corey) and Mountain Brook by
the Jemison Company are included in the collection. Jemison’s personal papers
include his collection of genealogical data pertaining to his family, newspaper
clippings and other printed material relating to the families, photographs,
memos, and reminiscences.
Jemison’s business papers are organized as Individual collections according to
the following company and organization names and include: Central Mortgage and
Trust Company Records; Central Park Land Company; Chamber of Commerce
Construction Co, 1909-1954; City Housing Corporation; Corey Land Company;
Crawford, George Gordon, Correspondence; Elmwood Corporation; Empire Improvement
Company; Fairfield Land Company; Forest Park Realty Company; Glenwood Realty
Company; Jemison and Company; Jemison Mortgage Company; Jemison Real Estate and
Insurance Company; Mountain Brook Club Properties Company; Mountain Brook
Estates, 1920s; Mountain Brook Land Company; Mountain Terrace Land Company,
1905-1914; Papers (General Business); Redmont Garden Apartments, 1938-1945;
Redmont Land Company; Ridgely Apartments; Smith, Ruffin, Correspondence; Spring
Lake Farms; Tanner, A. B., Correspondence; Thomas Bartee Correspondence;
Tuscaloosa Development Company; Tutwiler Hotel Company; Twentieth Street Realty
Company; and Woodward Iron Company, January 1924-June 1926.
Robert Jemison, Sr. Papers and W.H. Kessler Papers
Altamont, A Study for General Subdivision and
Arrangement, A Portrait of Red Mountain at Birmingham, Alabama, George H. Miller
Landscape Architect, Boston, Mass., November 27, 1911. File #126.96.36.199.30.
Jemison, Robert, Jr., Collection (Mountain Terrace Land Company). Birmingham
Public Library, Department of Archives and Manuscripts.
Map of Mountain Terrace from Advertising Brochures and Leaflets, undated. File
#188.8.131.52. Jemison, Robert, Jr. Collection (Mountain Terrace Land Company).
Birmingham Public Library, Department of Archives and Manuscripts.
Portrait of Robert Jemison, Jr. Portraits Collection (#1557). Birmingham Public
Library, Department of Archives and Manuscripts.
Morris, Philip A. and Marjorie Longenecker White, eds.
Designs on Birmingham: A Landscape History of a Southern
City and Its Suburbs.
Birmingham, Alabama: Birmingham Historical Society,