Photos from inside the old vaults of one of Birmingham’s newly renovated historic buildings.
Photos by Cody Owens.
Renovations on the historic Federal Reserve Building in downtown Birmingham began in 2014 after Harbert Realty and Capstone Real Estate Investments decided to breathe new life into the building that was once a hub for economic activity in the city.
From 1927 until 2000 the bank was a key component for economic development in Birmingham, until the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta branch moved operations to Liberty Park, south of downtown.
In January the first tenants will begin to move into the third floor space, the first to be completed. Each floor will be leased separately, according to the developers. Weld was offered a tour of the newly finished —and, in some places, unfinished — building in the heart of Birmingham’s financial district.
In the subbasement, there is an old firing range that officials used to put to good use. The original sign still hangs above the area where officers would practice shooting targets 30 feet below ground.
Portions of the two-story vault, half of which is located underground, served as a temporary jail for inmates coming from the federal courthouse across Fifth Avenue North. A tunnel that runs under the street connecting the courthouse to the holding cells has since been walled off from the vaults.
Large windows overlook the federal courthouse across the street and offer similarly unique views of the city throughout the various spaces in the building.
The vault doors are so heavy that the foundation had to be reinforced beneath them. The developers were unable to remove them, so instead have repurposed them for the space. On the first floor, one of the old vaults has been converted into a bathroom for the restaurant, Urban Cookhouse, and other tenants that will eventually occupy the space.
The original doors leading to the ramp where money trucks would drive from the street to the bank’s vaults are still in place. The developer decided to refinish them, much like other historical components of the property, as opposed to replacing them.
The original atrium was three stories tall but had been redone at some point, walling off the top two floors from the one below. The space will now serve as an office.