Alabama State University (ASU)

ASU from Carter Hill

…as viewed down Carter Hill Road toward the famous Acadome, of Joe Reed fame. When I moved here almost 60 years ago, ASU did not have any frontage on Carter Hill. I-85 came along and blocked its growth North, so the campus grew South on the wings of civil rights litigation, ultimately securing exposure to that highly traveled street along a 5-block strip. It is expected that the ASU campus will keep growing until it is bounded by Union, I-85, Forest Avenue and Carter Hill. The school was founded near Marion, Alabama by William Burns Paterson in 1870 under the name Lincoln Normal School. After almost 20 years, Paterson secured State support for his school provided it would move to Montgomery and become the State Normal School for Negros. Paterson remained as president, and his interest in teaching his students horticulture led to his founding of Montgomery’s renowned Rosemont Gardens.  Paterson’s Rosemont Gardens grew into a leader in all divisions of the flower industry: research, growing, wholesale and retail. Its retail outlet and operations center stood on Perry Street directly opposite First Baptist for over a half-century, and its greenhouses and flower beds were located just off Carter Hill on the land now known as the gated community Rosemont Place.

ASU ArchAbove is a picture of the recently completed Hall Street Entrance Aech leading onto the Alabama State Campus, taken from the bridge over I-85. The arch, along with impressive development beyond, evidences the millions of dollars poured into the institution by State and Federal governments.

ASU Acadome

(Above) ASU Campus as seen from Carter Hill near Hall Street. In the distance you see the C J Dunn Tower, a dormitory built some 20 years ago amidst much legal wrangling over no-bid public works contracts. Just this side of the Tower is the old Dunn Arena, where ASU’s onetime basketball coach, James Oliver, held forth. And up close is the renowned, 7,400 seat, Dunn-Oliver Acadome.

ASU Bookstore

(Above) The ASU Bookstore now grandly protected in a wrought iron fenced compound (carded electric gate) at the corner of Carter Hill and Hall Streets. Who would know (but me) that the poor structure lurking behind the planted-on shingled mansard, was built in 1955 as an IGA Grocery Store (later a “Big Bear”). It was the first element of the Carter-Hall Shopping Center developed by Dr. B W Cobbs, the worst skin-flint a struggling beginner architect ever dealt with. He would have upstaged Jack Benny. The store cost an extravagant $5.00 psf, and even using adjusted dollars, I’m afraid the new fence cost more than the store did. In later years, Dr. Cobbs added a Laundromat, drug store, beauty shop and bakery to his plunge.

-Charles Humphries

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